Top 24 Barbecue Joints in Kansas City – 435 Magazine

 Home to the World Series of Barbecue, the nation’s largest barbecue society and topper of national barbecue lists, it’s no question that Kansas City knows barbecue best. Naysayers aside — we’re looking at you Carolinas, Tennessee and Texas — we are confident that the following restaurants serve the best smoked meats in the country. We compiled the ‘cue community’s votes on which joints wear the ‘cue crown in this town. But don’t think of it as a best barbecue list; think of it as 24 more reasons why KC is the place to get your ‘cue fix.

 

   1. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que

   Opened: 1996

   Pitmaster: Smokehouse crew

   Method: Missouri white oak; low and slow in Old Hickory and Southern Pride smokers

   Competition Team: Slaughterhouse Five (still active)

Are you surprised? This stalwart of new-school ‘cue has been topping barbecue lists —USA TodayThrillistand the New York Post, to name a few — since Jeff and Joy Stehney opened the original location in the gas station on 47th Avenue and Mission Road. Now Joe’s ships nationwide, which means barbecue lovers here and far can savor fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, succulent pulled pork and burnt ends, and perfectly smoke-ringed brisket of the signature Z-Man sandwich. Three area locations, joeskc.com

Joes KC Z Man


   2. Q39

   Opened: 2014

   Pitmaster: Alberto Martinez

   Method: Hickory and oak blend; Low and slow on a Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: Munchin’ Hogs

Quickly rising to Kansas City barbecue fame, Rob Magee’s new-school concept keeps ‘cue lovers packing into the now two metro area locations. The secret? Combining an upscale, “gourmet barbecue” ambiance with competition barbecue-level flavor and quality. Sink your teeth into classics like brisket and burnt ends or opt for dishes like the pulled pork tacos or the “best wings on the planet.” Two area locations, q39kc.com

Q39 Sandwich


   3. Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue

   Opened: 1974 (then as Smokestack Barbecue)

   Pitmaster: Tommy Kupczyk

   Method: Hickory; seared/tenderized and then low and slow

   Competition Team: None

Every barbecue joint has a calling card, and at Jack Stack it’s the succulent ribs, offered in six varieties: pork spare ribs, baby back ribs, lamb ribs, crown prime beef ribs and smoked prime rib. The Fiorella name is also synonymous with the upscale, white-tablecloth experience and as diverse a menu as they come. Here, not only can you get bubbly, hot and heavenly cheesy corn bake, burnt ends and baked beans, but also seafood, filet mignon and a generous wine list. Five area locations, jackstackbbq.com

Jack Stack BBQ Kansas city


   4. SLAP’s BBQ

   Opened: 2013

   Pitmaster: Joe and Mike Pearce

   Method: Missouri hickory and oak; low and slow all night, hot and fast in the morning

   Competition Team: Squeal Like A Pig (still active)

Taking too long to decide if you’re going to visit SLAP’s BBQ makes the difference between leaving hungry and leaving happy. This downhome, brother-owned restaurant serves up barbecue the old way, meaning they’re open until they sell out. So come early to get a taste of their moist and flavorful brisket and to-die-for hush puppies. 553 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan., (913) 213-3736, slapsbbqkc.com

SLAPS BBQ Kansas City


   5. Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque

   Opened: 1958

   Pitmaster: Timmie Brown

   Method: Hickory and oak; brick/concrete pit

   Competition Team: None

This legendary “grease house” is where you’ll find quintessential KC barbecue, which means the meats are low, slow and long smoked, served up on a slice of fluffy white bread. Bryant’s boasts a direct tie to Henry Perry, a.k.a. the father of KC barbecue. In fact its bright orange, gritty and tangy sauce was born from Perry’s recipe. This legendary spot has a history of famous guests, from Count Basie to Barack Obama. Take a journey through taste and time with a combo plate and ribs. Three area locations, arthurbryantsbbq.com


   6. Johnny’s Bar-B-Que

   Opened: 1977

   Pitmaster: Johnny White, Brian White

   Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: None

This barbecue destination, which was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, is home to fall-off-the-bone tender smoked meats, the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s monthly luncheon and The Remus sandwich. Named after barbecue aficionado Ardie Davis’ alter ego, Remus Powers, PhB, the masterpiece sandwiches pulled pork, pimento cheese and crunchy slaw between two fluffy buns. Two area locations, johnnysbbqkc.com


   7. Smokin’ Guns BBQ & Catering

   Opened: 2003

   Pitmaster: Kevin Hopkins

   Method: Traeger pellet smoker

   Competition Team: Smokin’ Guns BBQ (still active)

Traditional smoked meats, tasty sides, live music and great people are what keep ‘cue lovers journeying across the river for this North Kansas City 50-seater. Owners Phil and Linda Hopkins still hit the competition barbecue circuit on weekends, which guarantees they’re always serving competition-quality ‘cue. 1218 Swift St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 221-2535, smokingunsbbq.com


   8. B.B.’s Lawnside Blues & BBQ

   Opened: 1990

   Pitmaster: Mike Nickle

   Method: Hickory; 65-year-old granite pit, low and slow

   Competition Team: Nickle Boys BBQ (still active)

Atmosphere is an important aspect of barbecue, and BB’s features a unique experience that we like to call blues-b-cue. Getting to know your neighbor is a breeze with communal seating, which is a good thing since you’ll want to tell everyone around you about offerings like BBQ meatloaf, the BBQ sundae and Louisiana favorites. And Thursday through Sunday, BB’s is where you want to be to catch world-class blues. 1205 E. 85thSt., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 822-7427, bbslawnsidebbq.com

BB's Lawnside Blues & BBQ


   9. LC’s Bar-B-Q

   Opened: 1986

   Pitmaster: L.C. Richardson and pit crew

   Method: Blast and simmer with hickory in a brick pit

   Competition Team: None

LC’s is a true KC hidden gem. Known for its no-frills approach to barbecue, the shack features all the markings of an old-school barbecue joint: treacherously greasy floors, an indoor pit in the in dining room and generous portions of tender fan-favorite burnt ends. What’s the best way to find LC’s? Look for the billowing chimney smoke. 5800 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 923-4484

LC's BBQ Kansas City


   10. RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack

   Opened: 2003

   Pitmaster: Bob Palmgren

   Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: None

What began as a hobby for owner Bob Palmgren has grown into one of Mission’s most unique barbecue spots. Profoundly flavorful ribs and creative starters like bison empanadas and smoked jalapeño sausage pair well with live bands like The Magpies and the Gumablaya Cajun Trio on the Mission City Limits stage. Don’t miss the weekend barbecue breakfast featuring burnt end hash. 5835 Lamar Ave., Mission, Kan., (913) 262-7300, rjsbbq.com


   11. Jones BBQ

   Opened: 1980s

   Pitmaster: Deborah and Mary Jones

   Method: Hickory and oak mix; homemade pit

   Competition Team: None

In an industry that’s dominated by men, sisters Mary and Deborah Jones are rare gems. Throughout their 38-plus years in the ‘cue biz, they’ve garnered quite a following, with customers lining up well before they open just to get first dibs on offerings like ribs, rib tips, house-made sausage, sauce and beans. Barbecue is in their blood, and they’re all about sharing the love. 6707 Kaw Drive, Kansas City, Kan., (913) 788-5005

Jones BBQ


   12. Rosedale Bar-B-Q

   Opened: 1934

   Pitmaster: Arnulfo Celaya and Bill Smith

   Method: Hickory; indirect heat

Traditional barbecue in Kansas City wouldn’t be complete without this Southwest Boulevard standby, which taught Johnny’s BBQ owner, Johnny White. More than eight decades later, Rosedale is still owned by Anthony Rieke’s family and is known for its reliably tasty ribs and crispy crinkle-cut fries served in a waxed paper bag.600 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kan., (913) 262-0343, rosedalebarbeque.comHome to the World Series of Barbecue, the nation’s largest barbecue society and topper of national barbecue lists, it’s no question that Kansas City knows barbecue best. Naysayers aside — we’re looking at you Carolinas, Tennessee and Texas — we are confident that the following restaurants serve the best smoked meats in the country. We compiled the ‘cue community’s votes on which joints wear the ‘cue crown in this town. But don’t think of it as a best barbecue list; think of it as 24 more reasons why KC is the place to get your ‘cue fix.

Rosedale BBQ Kansas City

   13. Burnt End BBQ

   Opened: 2011

   Pitmaster: Stephen “Smokey” Schwartz

  Method: A secret wood combination; smoked to perfection

   Competition Team: PB&J Smokin’ Old Men

Thanks to longtime pitmaster “Smokey” at the helm, this best-kept secret barbecue joint uses its signature bowls to elevate traditional ‘cue in a way that reimagines it without being pretentious. The burnt end bowl features signature melt-like-butter burnt ends on a bed of hickory pit beans, topped with sweet cornbread and garnished with crispy peppered onion straws. We’re sold. 11831 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 451-8888, burntendbbqkc.com


   14. Brobecks Barbeque

   Opened: 2007

   Pitmaster: Doug and Dean Brobeck

   Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: None

Owner Doug Brobeck hails from East Tennessee, which explains the restaurant’s Carolina-style barbecue with Kansas City flair. It’s all about the meat, not the sauce, but they don’t mind if you drizzle a bit on. Just be sure to savor the smoky flavor and dry-rub seasoning beforehand. The most popular item is the ham salad that’s said to be so good you’ve got to call and order it in advance. 4615 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, Kan., (913) 901-9700, brobecksbbq.com


   15. Plowboys Barbeque

   Opened: 2013

   Pitmaster: Todd Johns

   Method: Missouri white oak; rotisserie, wood smokers with gas assist

  Competition Team: Pork Pullin’ Plowboys

This past winner of 435 Magazine’s barbecue smackdown knows a thing or two about being the talk of the town, especially after owner Todd Johns was crowned American Royal Grand Champion in 2009. Now Plowboys makes everyone feel like a winner with thick slices of brisket, smoky pulled pork and signature barbecue nachos. Two area locations, plowboysbbq.com


   16. Woodyard Bar-B-Que

   Opened: 1950s

   Pitmaster: Mark O’Bryan

   Method: A blend of oak, hickory and pecan; brick smoker

   Competition Team: None

This family-owned KC treasure doesn’t have roots in the competition barbecue circuit. Instead, it began as one of the wood suppliers to ‘cue joints around town, practicing the things they learned on homemade smokers on the front patio. Don’t let its downhome looks fool ya; there’s succulent, smoked goodness inside. 3001 Merriam Lane, Kansas City, Kan., (913) 362-8000, woodyardbbq.com

Woodyard BBQ Kansas City


   17. Gates Bar-B-Q

   Opened: 1946

   Pitmaster: Staff trained at the Gates College of Bar-B-Que Knowledge

   Method: Hickory; flamed, seared and slow smoked

   Competition Team: None

Marked by its signature red roofs, “struttin’ man” logo and startling “Hi, may I help you?” greeting, Gates has been a notable stalwart in Kansas City since it first opened on 19th and Vine streets in 1946. It’s one of the few places that still offers mutton on the menu, and you just can’t leave without picking up a yammer pie. There’s plenty to choose from, just be sure to know what to order when you hear those magic words. Six area locations, gatesbqq.com


   18. Hayward’s Pit BBQ

   Opened: 1972

   Pitmaster: Alex Thompson

   Method: Hickory pit

   Competition Team: None

After 45 years of being on College Boulevard and Antioch Road, the iconic barbecue joint moved to Lenexa. Though the new space — now owned by Eric Sweeney — is smaller, the taste remains, and fans still drop in to the lodge-style restaurant to catch the game and get a helping of hickory-smoked perfection. 12894 Santa Fe Trail Drive, Lenexa, Kan., (913) 808-3078, haywardsbarbq.com


   19. Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ

   Opened: 1980

   Pitmaster: Danny Edwards

   Method: Hickory; low and slow

   Competition Team: None

Danny Edwards just screams barbecue joint, from its eclectic decor and distinctly smoky flavor to its red checkered tablecloths and pink pig mascot. The eatery’s owner grew up in a barbecue joint — his dad is ‘cue legend Jake Edwards — and he spent his years honing the art of the slow-cooked meats. The proof is in his “never trendy, just tasty” dishes like the beef point, rye and Swiss cheese Big D sandwich. 2900 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 283-0880, dannyedwardsblvdbbq.com

Danny Edwards Boulevard Kansas City BBQ


   20. Smokehouse Barbecue

   Opened: 1990

   Pitmaster: Smokehouse crew

   Method: Hickory; low and slow

   Competition Team: None

When Smokehouse first opened its doors, the goal was to provide Kansas City diners with the highest quality of barbecue and unparalleled service. More than two decades later, that standard is going strong, and the now famous ‘cue house is well-known for its delectable sides, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs and rich sauces. Three area locations, smokehousebbq.com


   21. Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements

   Opened: 2014

   Pitmaster: Mitch Benjamin and Jeremy Tawney

   Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: Meat Mitch

After the success of their other restaurant ventures, Mark Kelpe and James Westphal teamed up with legendary barbecue competitor Mitch Benjamin to bring a Southern-inspired take on the ‘cue that KC knows and loves. The menu offers something for all, from the smoked and pulled jackfruit that’s a dead ringer for pulled pork to the smoked brisket CBGB burger. Best of all is the amusements aspect, which features a dog-friendly beer garden, fire pit, bocce ball and more. 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 389-8600, charbarkc.com

Char Bar Kansas City BBQ


   22. Jon Russell’s Kansas City Barbeque

   Opened: 2012

   Pitmaster: Luther Salisbury

   Method: Hickory and apple woods; Old Hickory rotisserie smoker

   Competition Team: Jon Russell’s BBQ

Fork-tender and delectable describe the smoked offerings found at competition barbecue chefs Jon Niederbremer and Russell Muehlberger’s restaurant. It’s not just the meats that get a new twist, but also the sauces, which come in non-traditional yet tasty flavors like pineapple poblano, cherry chipotle, smokin’ ghost and blueberry habanero. Grab a Blue Ribbon Combo Platter and get to sampling! Note: May add mention of burrito. Waiting for more info. 12094 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 213-6944, jonrussellsbbq.com


   23. Zarda Bar-B-Q

   Opened: 1976

   Pitmaster: Harry Brummell

   Method: Ozark hickory; slow-smoked in a Southern Pride smoker

   Competition Team: Zarda BBQ

Zarda might be known for its world-famous beans, but it definitely has more to offer. Family recipes are still used to make top-notch smoked meats like chicken, turkey and ribs and rich sides like the vinegar-and-oil coleslaw. If you have the chance to order from the “off-the-menu” Limited Reserve, do so. The Carolina pulled pork and burnt end sandwiches are to die for. Two area locations, zarda.com

Zarda BBQ Kansas City


   24. Snead’s Bar-B-Q

   Opened: 1956

   Pitmaster: Matt Gfeller

   Method: Hickory; brick pit-smoked

   Competition Team: None

At this historic landmark in the heart of Belton, burnt ends are known as brownies, and it’s not just the name that sets them apart from the rest. The burnt ends are smoked to perfection and feature the right amount of char. Original owner Bill Snead had a reputation for quality traditional barbecue, and 60 years later that standard is still upheld. Taste it and see. 1001 E. 171st St., Belton, Mo., (816) 331-7979, sneadsbbq.com