Kansas City has established itself as a cultural and entertainment center, rivaling the Chicagos and Austins of America. But this is a more recent development. The only thing KC has had On Lock for over a hundred years is their barbecue, arguably the best in the country.
In the early 1900s, Henry Perry moved from Memphis to Kansas City. He had been a cook on a steamboat on the Mississippi River, but at KC he started cooking huge slices of meat in a pit over oak and hickory, and wrapping the meat in newspaper for them. clients. For over twenty-five cents, people devoured Perry’s meats, which were known for their harsh, peppery flavors. , and the raccoon. Look, KC will put barbecue sauce on anything … although you won’t find those gameier meats in barbecue joints here.
After Perry’s death in 1940 his business passed to Charlie and Arthur Bryant, one of Perry’s former workers founded the competitor Gates Bar-BQ and a whole generation of Kansas City barbecue institutions have established themselves. Collectively, they turned to a palette of equally sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors, often based on thick sauces that use lots of tomatoes and molasses. KC BBQ is defined by its wide variety of meats. While the Carolinas are famous for their pulled pork, Memphis for their ribs, and Texas for their brisket and sausages, they are all part of the Kansas City fold.
That said, the Burnt Ends, tasty and fat cuts that come from a brisket, have a special place in the heart of the city.
And here’s, uh, the catch: KC BBQ is your best bet when you want to try amazing cuisine from the full spectrum of flavors. This is also why the sides are just as important to the KC experience as the meat itself.
There are more than 100 barbecue joints in the Kansas City metro area alone, so we tried to cut some of that noise down and highlight the best:
A focused menu with roots going back to KC’s barbecue ancestors
Bryant? Kansas City Bryants? Indeed. This is one of those elite bloodline sites. With roots going back to Henry Perry himself, it is an undeniable cornerstone in KC BBQ history. The sauces are rich and spicy or original, and the portions are plentiful. Fortunately, the choices here are exceptionally streamlined. There are six meats, ribs, fries, onion rings, and a few choices for the kids. Throw a dart at the menu and there’s a good chance you’ll be happy with what you bring home. They are also so proud of their white bread that you can just buy a loaf of it. It’s really worth it.
What to order: Try mixing the meats on the sandwich. You can’t go wrong with half a bust, half burnt ends.
Like you’ve been wandering around in someone’s kitchen
Masterpiece KC sacrificed quality with their decision to mass produce their sauce, but Gates has been selling several sauces and seasonings since the 1970s and this has only helped their business. With locations all over town, Gates is the people’s barbecue, for the people. You can always come in and have a no-frills, family-style dish: minced beef on white bread with your choice of sauces ranging from mild to sweet to hot. Gates has a universal nature, which is why the walls are covered with photos of world leaders stopping to eat.
What to order: Honestly, just take anything. Just be sure to try the steak fries, which are seasoned to perfection.
Look, it’s hard to play favorites here, but a lot of places you could watch go this one in the first place. We’re not here to spit against conventional flavor wisdom. Jack Stack is very good. While there are a few places, you should definitely visit the Freight House, where the 25-foot ceilings in a former freight yard are complemented by mood lighting… and one of the best meals you’ll ever have. Like everywhere else in KC, burnt ends are a must, but the hot sauce that will dip everything on your plate is so perfect you’ll lap it up with your fingers. When it comes to sides, cheesy corn, fries, BBQ shrimp, and cornbread are all equally must-have.
What to order: One order of Jack’s Best gives you prime rib, ribs and burnt tips. Don’t know what else to ask for?
The best barbecue you’ll ever find prepared at a gas station
There’s a reason Joe’s made our list of the best barbecue places in the country. It is a barbecue located inside a functioning gas station. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you’re going to miss out on the most Midwestern meal you can imagine. The menu here is separated into meat and “other stuff”. We highly recommend both. Most full barbecue dinners are based on availability, so it’s best to show up at Joe’s with no plans but a tummy that needs to be filled. Also, be prepared to wait a bit. You are strongly encouraged to slice up your meal and then step aside for the next guests. And if you don’t make it to KC soon, Joe’s shipped frozen meats heat up surprisingly well.
What to order: The Jumbo Rocket Pig is one hell of a pulled pork sandwich.
A newcomer to a scene dominated by heritage
Just founded Four years ago, Q39 uses techniques that classically trained chef / owner Rob Magee has perfected over a decade on the competitive barbecue circuit. The wood-fired grill and the smoker turned on at every meal ensure that you get the freshest meats possible. And the meats, they are plentiful. Championship-grade plates filled with baby back ribs are just part of what you need to be prepared for. The sausages are some of the best in town and the chicken is just as impressive.
What to order: Take the judge’s plate and as many sides as you can. Don’t skip the mac and cheese.
The best terrace experience at KC
A two minute drive from Q39 you will find Char Bar. This joint has a huge outdoor area with terraces, fire pits, children’s games and a very dog friendly lawn. It’s hard to have a drink here with a plate full of barbecue while the sun is setting. There’s also a beer garden and plenty of options for people with food allergies.
What to order: burnt tips. But if you’re here to do it all, ask them about The Whomp Platter.
The perfect place for early risers.
You have a countdown on Slap. Every day, Slap’s BBQ opens in the morning and sells its award-winning dishes until it’s sold out. And it sells out every day. So if your plan is to try and show up after 2pm, you don’t need to bother. Everything they do is fantastic, and it’s the only barbecue on this list that also deserves a recommendation for their Tuesday tacos. Yes. I’m serious. Slap’s can’t hurt, and the competitive nature of trying to beat the rest of KC at this food is a great reason to make this place your second breakfast, even if you’re not completely in the mood. .
What to order: The Sampler plate (add the ends and the burnt ribs.)
For a bit of everything
Burnt ends are a delight, but the real range of meat options is Hawg Jaw Que & Brew’s raffle. The breasts, the French dip, the loaded fries, the wings – they have everything you need to dip into their signature sauces. If you are a beer lover, they also have over twenty craft beers to choose from.
What to order: For $ 17, the Hawg Trough Sampler lets you taste ALL the meats here, then add some sides for good measure. But don’t skip the nachos to the chest. Sorry, they are not in the sampler.