As a well-known meat packing city with large stockyards, Kansas City became a destination for barbecue pit masters. It attracted the families of Bryan, Gates, Boyd, Harris and Thompson. Therefore, a barbecue culture emerged that is still prevalent today with over 100 restaurants in the metro area. Now, each time I head back home, I try to make a point to check out new spots on each trip.
As I read recently, “BBQ is a food group. It does NOT mean grilling burgers, and hot dogs outdoors.” LOL!
My favorites include:
Changing its name to Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que is the former Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que. This popular barbecue restaurant is located in a working Shamrock gas station at 3002 West 47th, at the corner of Mission Road, and is one of the most famous of the Kansas City barbecue restaurants. Make sure to go early as the line starts forming well before they open at 11am. There are two other locations in town, but I would recommend the original for the atmosphere. They have a wide variety of sandwiches and dinners. I loved the BBQ Beef Brisket and the baked beans, while my friend enjoyed the combination brisket and pulled pork sandwich with the red beans and rice. Make sure to add this to your list of to-dos in KC. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Putting it in the company with the French Laundry and El Bulli, Anthony Bourdain named Joe’s one of the 13 places to eat before you die”.
Q39: Make sure to book your reservation beforehand online, since this new restaurant featuring barbecue and wood-fired grilling, is packing them in. I loved the casual, contemporary atmosphere and the great food. Open for lunch and dinner, I enjoyed a business lunch. They offer a large selection of sandwiches, salads, soups, brisket burgers, BBQ lunch plates and sides. I really enjoyed the Judges Plate with three meats, pulled pork, sliced brisket and smoked chicken along with an apple coleslaw. I liked their traditional molasses based KC barbecue sauce, but two spicier options were available to try as well. 1000 W. 39th.
I just went to Q39’s latest addition, Q39 South at 11051 Antioch Rd. in Overland Park, KS. It is a rustic space with a large dining room and porch. It is a popular spot so make sure to book online before you go. At this location I enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich and two sides of baked beans and cole slaw. I will definitely go back as the food and atmosphere were great!
Arthur Bryant’s is a must for its famous KC barbeque. The original location is at 1727 Brooklyn and has a casual, diner atmosphere. Be patient, as the lines can be long.
It is North of the former Municipal Stadium, located at the corner of Brooklyn Ave. and E. 22nd, that hosted both the minor-league Kansas City Blues of the American Association and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues from 1923 to 1954. It was then home of the Kansas City A’s from 1955 to 1967, the Kansas City Royals from 1969 to 1972 and the Kansas City Chiefs from 1963 to 1971. I went there many times as a child!
Danny Edward’s Boulevard BBQ. This is a great new find on my most recent trip to KC. At 2900 SW Boulevard, they feature a number of BBQ sandwiches, plates and sides. The atmosphere is casual and fun. I thought the pulled pork sandwich was really great!! They have been featured in Saveur and Bon Appetit Magazines.
Jack Stack Barbecue: Not to be missed is the original Martin City location at 135 & Holmes. It has a casual, rustic atmosphere with great food. I enjoyed the combination hickory smoked brisket and pulled pork with great baked beans and their cheesy corn bake with corn, smoked ham and cheese. They feature a number of sandwiches, soups, salads, ribs, seven types of smoked meat plus barbecue chicken.
On a recent trip, I enjoyed having dinner at their Jack Stack Barbecue – Freight House which is located in the Crossroads Arts District in an historic building. I really liked the brisket and the baked beans. 101 W 22nd St #300.
Scott’s Kitchen and Catering at Hangar 29: At 11920 N. Ambassador Dr., just east of the airport, this is a newer spot created by Scott Umscheid. He opened this casual spot in 2017 after competing in and excelling in a number of local barbecue competitions. I thought the pulled pork sandwich was very tasty. I had a great visit with Scott. His father-in-law used to work for TWA nearby at the airport, therefore, there is an airplane theme with pictures of the old TWA planes and jets that I used to fly on as a child. They feature a number of breakfast items, sandwiches, ribs, smoked meat plates, tacos, burritos and bowls and sides.
Woodyard Bar-B-Que: At 3001 Merriam Lane in Kansas City, KS, near the intersection of I-35 and I-635, Woodyard is a rustic BBQ spot that should be high on your list to try. They feature a number of sandwiches, sides, hot wings, ribs and plates with an emphasis on pulled pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, ham and burnt ends. It has both indoor and outdoor seating. It has been featured in a number of articles and on some of the best food and travel TV networks.
LC’s Bar-B-Q: 5800 Blue Parkway, east of the Country Club Plaza, this is a popular spot that has been featured in a number of articles on the best BBQ in KC. I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and the food. Their meats include beef, ribs, ham, turkey and pork along with sausage, chicken, shrimp, burnt ends and chicken wings. The menu includes sandwiches, sides and combination platters.
Rosedale BBQ: This is a casual BBQ restaurant at 600 Southwest Blvd. in Kansas City, KS. It was started in 1934 as neighborhood hotdog and beer stand. The following year the family started the barbecue business nearby. Today it is the oldest barbecue restaurant operated by the same family. They offer a number of dinners, sandwiches, ribs and sides. It is a really fun experience.
Slaps BBQ: Having seen this casual BBQ spot on several lists, I had to try it on my last trip to KC. I thought it was a fun spot with great food. You know it is popular when people are lining up outside! I had the brisket combo with pulled pork and two sides. I highly recommend it. 553 Central Ave. Kansas City, KS.
Located in Westport, Char Bar is a casual restaurant featuring BBQ and Southern dishes with a modern twist. It located in a big space with a retro vibe and colorful mural, plus a large outdoor beer garden featuring games. I went for lunch on a Saturday and really enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich. My friends loved the brisket and rib tips. I recommend going for a fun experience. It is a perfect family oriented space.
On a recent trip I enjoyed my lunch with a friend at Hawg Jaw Que & Brew. Located north of the river in North Kansas at 900 Swift St., it is a casual spot with an large menu of barbecue and craft beer. I chose the daily special which was a pulled pork sandwich with a side and drink. There are three different sauces you can choose from depending on your taste. I recommend the experience.
On my last trip for my nephew’s wedding, I enjoyed Justin Easterwood’s CHEF J BBQ in the West Bottoms at 1401 W. 13th St., Suite G. Kansas City Magazine recently listed it as #2 in The 10 Best BBQ Spots in Kansas City Right Now. I enjoyed my pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and rich banana pudding in the vintage space. The menu has a number of meats, platters, sides and sandwiches to choose from.
You might check out the KC Barbecue Tours if you want to explore several spots. Visit KC has launched a BBQ app, KC BBQ Experience, which will give you suggestions, special events, local BBQ trails and more.