Kansas City BBQ is way more than just a menu item or a method of cooking. It’s a historic institution, rich with tradition that shapes how and what people in the city eat every day—and has done so since the early 1900s.
Considering that KC has well over 100 dedicated BBQ joints, we’ve decided to make it that little bit easier for you to decide where to order some mouthwatering ribs. You might have to queue for your grub, but these places will always be worth it.
And don’t forget: the main thing Kansas BBQ does better than anywhere else is their smokey burnt ends, so don’t leave without an order on the side…
Gates is one of the longstanding original barbecue spots in KC, and knocks it out of the park time and time again when it comes to smoky meats and droolworthy sides. Famous for their burnt ends – crispy, caramelized ends of meat – this is a must-try for carnivores in the city.
Hickory smoked meats and barbecued beans are highlights of the legendary Jack Stacks chain, which has several locations throughout Kansas City. The barbecue here never lets you down – cooked to perfection in a brick oven with fully loaded portions.
Arthur Bryant, the legendary King of Ribs, is one of the most renowned barbequers in history. This iconic KC BBQ spot has attracted the likes of former Presidents Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama for a feast, so you know it’s food worth traveling for.
Owner Danny comes from a long line of BBQ masters, so it makes sense that his own joint is now one of the city’s top spots for a barbecue meat platter. This lunch-only cafe is known for its insanely tender beef brisket, so don’t forget to throw in an order of that next time you visit.
This little barbecue joint in the gas station at the corner of 47th & Mission is world famous for its tasty BBQ. The late Anthony Bourdain even proclaimed Joe’s worthy of a spot on his list of “13 places to eat before you die.” If you only order one thing make it the Z-Man Sandwich: a toasted Kaiser roll with slow-smoked beef brisket, provolone cheese and crispy onion rings.
Q39 is a 21st-century spin on the traditional Kansas City BBQ, and it’s out of this world. Basically, it’s a unique hybrid of wood-fired grilling and fresh, award-winning barbeque that’s chef-driven by national champion barbeque pitmaster, Rob Magee.
7. Slap’s BBQ
Slap’s BBQ (Squeal Like a Pig) has only been around for a few years but is already storming ahead on the barbecue scene. They serve only the freshest BBQ daily, until they run out of meat. And, btw, they sell out every day so get down early.
This old favourite of Andrew Zimmern, Guy Fieri and the late Anthony Bourdain began as a woodyard, serving other area barbecue restaurants before it got into the game itself. Safe to say, these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to meat. Their burnt end chilli is droolworthy.
9. Char Bar
This southern-inspired smokehouse is one of the only places where vegetarians can enjoy the same level of BBQ as meat-eaters, with smoked jackfruit on the menu. Not only is it delicious, there’s also a 10,000-square foot Beer Garden with backyard amusements, such as lawn croquet, bocce and ping-pong.
10. Plowboys BBQ
This local gem is known for its speedy service and no-fuss take on Kansas City’s signature cuisine. Order the same as the owner for guaranteed perfection: “Brisket and sausage sandwich topped with KC Crossroads sauce. Add a side of fries and a Diet Dr Pepper.”
Meat here is smoked for 12 hours over Cherrywood for a full flavour. Feeling up to a challenge? Try tackle their Full Dresser, which has allll the meats: Brisket, Sausage, Burnt Ends, Pulled Pork, Turkey, & Ham On Texas Toast, weighing in over 1lb.
12. LC’s Barbecue
This old school joint is full to the brim of barbecue delights for hungry punters. Loved locally for their crispy fries, tangy burnt ends (many folk say they’re the best in the city) and tasty meat combo sandwiches. You won’t ever leave LC’s disappointed.
RJ’s KC BBQ Shack has rightly earned its place among the Kansas City BBQ greats since opening in 2003. It’s a master in country style cooking with some unique menu options, including bison empanadas and brisket steak soup. The Denver lamb ribs are especially good.
14. Jones BBQ
The recent stars of an episode of Queer Eye, the Jones sisters carry on their family’s legacy of smoking meats and making their family’s secret BBQ sauce from scratch daily at their restaurant. The meats are tender and that sauce is tangy and sweet.
15. Wyandot Barbeque
A local favourite spot, Wyandot serves up mouth watering BBQ. The meaty ribs are falling-off-the-bone tender, the home-made sauce is delicious and the crinkle cut fries are perfectly crisp. One to add to your BBQ bucket list for 2019.
16. Smokehouse BBQ
With three locations in KC, Smokehouse has you well looked after when it comes to all your barbecue needs. As well as hickory smoked beef and wings, they do some super sides. Fresh-made coleslaw, smoky and sweet barbecue beans, and some of the smoothest, richest sauces you’ll ever taste.
BB’s Lawnside BBQ combines two great Kansas City traditions – Barbecue and Blues. For more than 20 years, B.B.’s has served slow-smoked meats (sausage, beef, chicken, pulled pork and ribs) from its 60+ year-old pit with live Blues entertainment. A winning combo.
18. Smokin’ Guns
With award-winning barbecue rubs, slow smoking, and delectable sauces, Smokin’ Guns BBQ is consistently one of the most popular places in Kansas City for a meat-fest meal. Lines may be long at peak times, but the rooftop views of the city and juicy meats make it worthwhile.
19. Brobecks BBQ
They do things a little differently at this small-but-mighty smokehouse – they use their special rub recipes on the meats and then smoke them and serve ’em dry (without sauce). There are several choices of sauce you can use, including some local favourites, so you can DIY.
Rosedale Bar B Que boasts over 70 years of delicious barbecue experience, and the classic restaurant is still ran by the founder’s family members. They keep things simple but perfect, with the meat still full of flavour and fries gold and crispy. Order at the counter, take your food to one of the tables or booths and dig in.
21. Burnt End BBQ
Known for their signature bowls, Burnt End BBQ serves up thick and juicy plates of beef, steak, pork and chicken. The portions are big and their barbeque is beyond delicious, so come hungry and leave happy.