July 31, 2015 8:00 am • Jenny Vergara
Q39 was voted the best new restaurant in Kansas City in the 2015 Feast 50.
Kansas City is purported to have the greatest concentration of barbeque joints in the U.S. Experts estimate that we have more than 100 barbeque restaurants concentrated in and around the city’s metro area alone. Ask anyone who lives here where to find the best barbeque, and you will get a different answer from every person.
With so much great ‘cue to try, what is the secret sauce that chef Rob Magee, owner of Q39, used to create his award-winning competition barbeque concept? First, you have to start with great barbeque.
“When you go into a project and sink everything you have into it, you hope and pray that success will follow,” Magee says. “I can tell you that we have been three times more successful than I ever thought we would be, and I am proud of that.”
At Q39, Magee serves his two-time national championship, award-winning barbeque from recipes learned during more than a decade of leading the award-winning and championship Munchin’ Hogs competitive barbeque team as pitmaster. The restaurant also features wood-fired grilling.
There is a big difference between grilling (quick-fire searing) and barbecuing (low and slow), and Magee’s decision to combine the two methods in one restaurant is a truly brilliant extension of his Q39 menu and brand. Menu items such as spare ribs, beef brisket, housemade chipotle sausage and the “best wings on the planet,” are proof positive.
The restaurant’s location and décor are also part of its charm. Magee was the talk of 39th Street when he announced his plans to take over a tired Chinese buffet to open Q39. Working with Realm Architecture + Design, Magee gutted the more than 5,000-square-foot space, giving the interior a casual but stylish, “urban rustic” feel with exposed brick, stained concrete floors, dark wooden furniture and industrial accents, and an open kitchen. He also added a separate to-go area called Q2Go. A welcoming outdoor patio is located in front of the restaurant with a giant garage door that is opened when the weather is nice.
Service also sets Q39 apart from almost all of the other barbeque restaurants in Kansas City, as it is a full-service, sit-down restaurant with professional waitstaff who takes your order at your table. There is no standing in line to order or paying for your food before you snag your seat. At Q39, there is also a large bar area where you can wait to be seated serving fresh, seasonal cocktails and a wide selection of local craft beer.
To add to his arms-length list of awards won leading the Munchin’ Hogs, Magee’s Q39 has been featured on Eater’s Kansas City Heatmap: Where to Eat Right Now as one of the hottest openings of 2014, and the Huffington Post included it on its list of Five of the Hottest Barbecue Trends for 2015. Due to Q39’s success, Magee has announced plans to possibly open a second location in the coming year.
“It was always in my plans to expand the concept, and every time I think I know what I need in my next location, the original restaurant hits another milestone, and we grow again,” Magee says. “It makes me have to continue to re-evaluate what my needs really are going to be for the next Q39.”
Not too shabby for someone whose restaurant has only been open for 16 months.
Q39, 1000 W. 39th St., Westport, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.255.3753, q39kc.com