Burnt ends are the crown jewel of Kansas’ barbecue scene, next to Texas’ brisket and Carolina’s pulled pork. Since its inception in the 1920s, Kansas City BBQ has not only been Kansas City’s most recognizable culinary offering (and one of the top things to do in Kansas City) but has influenced the entire country’s gastronomical landscape. (How Henry Perry used an old streetcar barn as a smoker to cook meat.) Today, more than 100 restaurants serve BBQ in the KC area, along with BBQ-themed events and festivals. (The sauce is an old family recipe, thick, sweet, and slightly spicy.) Do you want to find the best BBQ in Kansas City? We got you covered. If you’re craving Kansas City’s legendary barbeque, you’ll find plenty of options for tasting it.
We have listed below 10 popular BBQ in Kansas City that will surely amuse your taste buds during your visit.
You’re going to have a great meal here if you’ve got the time in KC for one. The original gas station location, where Joe’s is located, is the place to go for some of the best burgers in Kansas City and throughout the country. It is one of the best BBQ in Kansas City.
While the line might be long, the wait will still be worthwhile. You don’t have to take our word for it: Anthony Bourdain counts Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que among his 13 must-eat places before you die. Pull pork sandwiches are a great choice as well as combination plates, which consist of ribs, brisket, turkey, ham, sausage, and a quarter of a chicken. Depending on your meat, you may need to serve onion rings as a side dish as well. There are additional locations nearby.
In Kansas City, Kansas, this barbecue restaurant thrives on consistency. It’s the same great taste every time you order a meal at Joe’s.
Tip- They also offer to-go Z-Man sandwiches and half slabs of meat, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with crowds. In addition to beef brisket, Joe’s also sells pulled pork, turkey, ham, and sausage by the pound, which is enough meat to feed three people.
Enjoy the barbecue and immerse yourself in the barbecue history of Kansas City. In the neighborhood, an antique red and white awning and barbecue smoke mark the original location of Arthur Bryant’s restaurant. It is one of the most famous BBQ in Kansas City. There are a handful of celebrities who have dined at the restaurant in its more than 80 years of operation, including Harry Truman, Steven Spielberg, and Wilt Chamberlain. Service is sometimes uneven at this no-frills, weathered counter-service establishment. Popular items include burnt ends, pulled pork sandwiches, and whole briskets. Try baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad for a barbecue side. These legendary joints are known for their smoke rings and tangy sauces (though there are now three sauces to choose from). Fries are served in massive portions, often enough to satisfy two to three people; and long lines sometimes form outside.
After Arthur passed away, Gary Birbiglia and Bill Raushelbach purchased the restaurant and carried on Arthur’s tradition of flavor and service.
Tip- You can pick up food from the restaurant or order takeout. Their twenty different sandwiches consist of beef, ham, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, burnt, and long ends. The meat you choose will be priced per pound regardless of the variety. There are also single, pint, quart, or gallon servings of classic sides.
During less than two years of operation, Q39 has achieved national recognition for its innovative barbecue. From Certified Black Angus Beef Brisket to Smoked and Char-Grilled Chicken or Housemade Chipotle Sausage, their Competition BBQ Plates showcase Magee’s three decades of expertise. Standard parts of these hefty plates include fresh rolls, coleslaw, potatoes, and beans. The burgers feature three types of ground brisket, grilled over oak wood and served with toasted buns. Cobb and salmon salads, as well as Mexican chicken wraps, also boast smoke and fire. On their Wood-Fired Grilled Plates, you can choose from salmon, steak, fresh vegetables, smoked chicken, or Magee’s white bean cassoulet. You can dine at the restaurant’s small tables, as well as the patio, which provides views of the city; or enjoy a craft cocktail from the bar.
This Westport barbecue restaurant has developed a large following of loyal customers in less than two years.
Tip- A helpful tip is its gluten-free side dishes, including baked beans, apple coleslaw, and house-cut fries. There are also gluten-free options including Salmon Filets, Smoked Salmon, Chicken Cobb Salads, and many of the competition BBQ plates.
Danny Edwards has been barbecuing ever since his dad started Jake’s Barbecue during the Depression. Edwards opened Lil’ Jakes a decade after moving the business to Kansas City, which had several locations and a name change before it settled in its current location. Aside from sweet potato fries and spicy jambalaya, brownies are also a big draw. On Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, the pull-apart brisket and pulled pork sandwiches were among the fall-off-the-bone favorites. The sauce trends from Danny Edwards are sweet with a hint of spice. Since the restaurant only operates between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and closes on Sundays, it is often packed and parking is difficult.
If a barbecue tradition has been handed down from generation to generation for more than 80 years, it’s obviously something special.
Tip- The Big D sandwich is not listed on their website menu, despite the fact that many customers rave about it. The popular ‘special’ is now available every day, offering a tasty combination of lightly salted burnt ends, cheese, and an onion ring between two slices of rye bread.
Jack Stack Barbecue is known for its consistently good quality over five decades and for its wide selection of food. Hickory-smoked meats include ribs and burnt ends, which are tender and delicious. If you’re looking for a change from conventional restaurant fare, try the Lamb Ribs, the trout entree, or the vegetable kabob. The upscale Freight House location in Kansas City near Union Station offers 25-foot ceilings, brick walls, natural wood, and rustic decorations. There are also options available for people with gluten intolerance.
Grilled ham and cheese, pork rib dinners, and fried chicken tenders, plus a drink and a side, are recommended for Barbecue.
Tip- From a menu featuring an extensive selection of 7-ounce pours, individual glasses begin at $6. California selections are also included, as well as a Pinot Noir from Oregon; several Malbecs from Argentina; Italian sparkling wines, and several white wines; and a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
There is a crimson roof and an art piece of a dapper man in a top hat to welcome you to Gates Bar-B-Q. It is known for serving the best BBQ in Kansas City.
The cafeteria-style restaurant is also known for having long lines (especially on Saturday nights), so guests should expect to order almost immediately after entering. The Gates family founded the restaurant in 1946, where their hickory wood fire is a key element. It was, however, Gates barbecue sauce that brought this restaurant to prominence, beginning in the 1940s. Now there’s a classic tangy version as well as a sweeter one to choose from. Customers praise the beef brisket, the French fries or onion rings, and the beef on bun sandwich.
Mutton is an unusual offering at this location, and their chili is available with or without beans and with or without cheese, and with fries. Tip- In addition to receiving training at the Gates College of Bar-B-Q Knowledge (also known as Rib Tech), employees at Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q attend an on-the-job school.
Begin with a good barbecue. The KC barbecue spot has even been featured on the Food Network as a one-of-a-kind destination with beer and live blues performances. With more than 5,000 blues recordings on display, BB’s is owned by Lindsay and Jo Shannon and features minimal decor. This diner is famous for its pork ribs, other succulent meats, and battered fries, as well as baked beans.
As well as Jambalaya and Gumbo, Louisiana Swampman Boudin Balls (deep-fried battered rice balls) are other Louisiana favorites. A real Kansas City landmark for ‘que and entertainment, this restaurant is known for its great service and large portions. The restaurant is the only one in the area that offers live blues along with dinner.
Tip- Don’t miss B.B.’s savory Sundae. These unique dishes include smoky pit beans, creamy coleslaw, and pulled pork in Mason jars. You can serve it instantly on your plate.
The Liquid Cafe operates inside a former gas station in Kansas City, Missouri, and has disposable tableware and limited seating. At the counter, customers can order, pay, and take in the smell of the legendary smoker. LC’s is usually busy when you arrive, so you may want to order quickly. A classic barbecue, from smoky brisket with crisp, chewy burnt ends to huge sandwiches smothered in sauce and served on white bread. A cold, cheap beer sits in the refrigerator and crisp, tender fries are served in big portions. This sauce combines sweet and spicy flavors without being overpowering. Customer favorites include spicy fried green beans and baked beans. The food is still worth a trip despite uneven service and an uneven menu.
The food here is great for tailgating or for takeout; just be sure to arrive early so you can pick up the order.
Tip- L.C.’s BBQ Restaurant is not afraid to put a price on its food. Buying a sandwich meal for $13 involves so much meat that it could serve several people and/or be enough to carry over to lunch the next day.
Enjoy the mouthwatering burnt ends and the brisket and hickory-smoked ribs at Gladstone’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q with Texas toast and coleslaw. Besides the savory and smoky beans, the corn nuggets or the mushrooms with ranch dip turn out to be great side dishes, too. With a menu just for kids and a price of $5, parents will appreciate this menu. Every meal, from a cheeseburger to a steak sandwich, comes with a side dish, pickles, and a small drink. Additionally, there are other locations nearby.
The Smokehouse offers several two-person options that include a slab of ribs, a combo plate that includes meats of various kinds, and three sides.
Tip- Smokehouse Bar-B-Que also offers online delivery in addition to its brick-and-mortar locations. Members of Smokehouse Club also receive an in-store coupon booklet, as well as event information and announcements.
Woodyard BBQ is the best way to experience old-school authenticity. Originally a wood yard, the business has evolved into an easy-going, casual joint that has been featured on Food Network’s On the Road. Outback are numerous woodpiles, where three enormous brick-encased smokers grind their magic from Monday to Saturday (there’s no such thing as too much rest!).
They have been described as having the best barbecue chicken in the metro area. Guests can enjoy a multitude of freshly prepared side dishes including coleslaw, smoky and savory baked beans, and cheesy corn. The best barbecue wood stash is at Woodyard Bar-B-Q near the parking lot. Lots of apples, cherry, pecan, hickory, and oak woods can be found there.
Tip- Among its daily specials is an $8.45 deal from Woodyard Bar-B-Que. Tuesdays you can enjoy a smoked Angus burger, Wednesday you can order half a smoked chicken, and Thursday you can order the Ultimate Club Sandwich which is smoked ham, turkey, and bacon sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayonnaise. If you love ribs, you should get there as early as you can on Saturdays.
There are several BBQ in Kansas City area. From USDA-certified beef, pulled pork, and brisket, to Polish sausages, lamb ribs, mutton, or trout, they have a wide range of options available on a grill or smoker. With barbecue, you can’t forget baked beans and coleslaw. A cheesy corn bake is another popular accompaniment to Kansas City barbecues. There are also Louisiana boudin balls at top barbecue restaurants, as well as gumbo and jambalaya. KC’s best barbecue restaurants were repurposed from old gas stations and Freight Houses, as well as old dive bars where seating is limited and lines begin outside the door. Even a barbecue with live music is possible. So what’s your wait? Put that bib on and get eating.