While there are many iconic food destinations throughout the nation, a must-visit destination for iconic eats, quintessential barbecue and all-around tasty meals in Kansas City. Here are a few dishes that represent the best in Kansas City and where to find the best meals in the city. These lunch catering ideas will inspire you to find the best food in Kansas City. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a proud resident, here are some of the tastiest dishes in Kansas City. From incomparable barbecue and classic Southern vegetable dishes to local favorites, fine dining, elegant cocktails, and craft beer, it’s not hard to find a meal you won’t forget in this food mecca.
The Best BBQ
While Memphis, Austin, and a few other big names try to compete for the title of the best barbecue in the nation, Kansas City barbecue is the undisputed champion. Few sauces have the sweetness, spice or thickness of this beloved sauce, and few slow cooking with wood chips was basically invented in the city.
In order to make barbecue that turns heads on a national level, you need a few special ingredients. These are the ingredients that make up classic Kansas City barbecue:
- Slow-cooked, smoked meats over hickory and oak
- Classic tomato, molasses, pepper and spices to create Kansas City barbecue
Of course, there’s lots of variation, inspiration, and innovation surrounding Kansas City barbecue. From the variety of meat and wood used to smoke the meat to the spices and other ingredients in the sauce, chefs around the city are looking for fresh ways to reinvent these unforgettable dishes.
Since the early 1900s, Kansas has been a place to enjoy the best barbecue in the nation. In the 1920s Henry Perry first-served piles of meat cooked right in an outdoor pit near his barn. Since then, barbecue has propelled Kansas City’s extensive stockyard and meat-packing industries to the forefront of this nation-wide cooking phenomenon.
Because of the international fame of Kansas City barbecue, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. However, many locals love chefs who focus on the classic skills, techniques, and recipes that put Kansas City on the map. While there are endless variations available for a unique twist, the best in the city is still the hearty combination of molasses, tomato, pepper, and unique spices that have been there for generations.
Few types of meat are off-limits for Kansas City barbecue. The same tried-and-true slow-cooked method and tasty sauce can turn nearly any cut of meat into a new sensation. Be sure to try out all of the classics on your next trip to Kansas City:
- Burnt ends
- Pulled pork
- Pork shank
- Pork belly
- Chicken wings
After you’ve sampled the obligatory barbecue, it’s important to expand your horizons. The Kansas City culinary scene didn’t make a name for itself simply from the barbecue. Despite the unbelievable flavors and textures of barbecue, there’s plenty more excitement where that came from.
The next dish to inspire your taste buds and give you a window into Kansas City cooking is chicken. Whether you choose fried chicken or chicken wings, you’ll love the juicy meat, crispy outside and you can even find it with a generous layer of barbecue sauce. Try a few and discover why so many residents are convinced that Kansas City is the best place for classic barbecue wings.
Bring on the Beef
If you haven’t fallen in love with Kansas City meat yet, it’s time to check out burnt ends. This mouth-watering dish is a staple of some of the greatest Kansas City restaurants. Burnt ends are the ends of brisket, which is another cut of meat worth visiting the city to sample, which is cooked twice. These crispy ends are typically cut into pieces. Whether they’re served coated in barbecue sauce, covered in a rub or served as a brisket sandwich, it’s worth having again and again.
Just like burnt ends, the entire brisket is a tasty classic of Kansas City. Everyone has their own guarded recipe for brisket. Sample brisket that’s been slowly cooked, uses the highest quality of beef and is generously layered with classic barbecue sauce.
Pulling Out the Pork
There’s nothing like tempting pulled pork, Kansas City barbecue sauce and fresh, zest apple slaw to create a tasty sandwich for lunch or a light dinner. If you haven’t noticed yet, Kansas City takes its meat seriously. After the beautiful brisket and out-of-this-world chicken wings, you shouldn’t be surprised that pulled pork is another crowd favorite throughout Kansas City.
A unique apple slaw or a more traditional southern-style slaw balances the flavor and texture of barbecued pulled pork and gives you a fresh crunch. It’s a perfect way to spend a leisurely lunch hour or a memorable meal for dinner.
Don’t Forget Your Veggies
While these meat-centered entrees certainly highlight the fame of Kansas City barbecue and slow cooking, few barbecue dishes would feel complete without a generous side of vegetables. Choose from a variety of classic Southern vegetable dishes to balance out your meal and add a little green to your diet.
From the staples of Southern cooking, like okra and collard greens, to more innovative options like apple slaw, cucumber salad, and bean cassoulet, you’ll find inspirational dishes to prove that Kansas City chefs can cook more than just barbecue.
For a more filling side dish, add a helping of baked beans. Baked beans, particularly when cooked with burnt ends, offer you a rich and tasty way to complete your meal. When you’re craving something besides meat and barbecue sauce, you’re in luck.
Thanks to the ingenuity of locals and a tremendous supply of wheat, Kansas City produces some excellent wheat beer. American wheat beer comes in a variety of colors and flavors. Many wheat beers are known for being light and refreshing, making them an excellent addition to your hearty barbecue dishes.
Grab a pint and kick back for a leisurely lunch, or go for a late-night appetizer of chicken wings or spare ribs as you sample the latest offerings of Kansas City microbreweries. Look for pleasant pairings to balance the sweetness of your barbecue, or go for something totally new to experience all the innovative options in this bustling city.
Whether you’re a fan of wine, beer or something a little stronger, Kansas City restaurants offer more than enough quality beverage options to complement your meal. Select your favorite drink or pair your classic Kansas City cooking with classic cocktails or wheat beer for an unforgettable evening.
Find it All at Q39
In the end, there’s nothing like a traditional barbecue in Kansas City. If you’re looking for tasty burnt ends or unbelievable brisket and pulled pork, come to Q39. Since 2014, Q39 has been serving barbecue prepared by classically trained chefs and has been delighting families and foodies in Kansas City. Whether you’re stopping by for some comfort food or creating an entire barbecue-themed road trip, you need to stop by Q39.
Discover why this friendly restaurant and open kitchen are a favorite of locals and travelers alike. Make a reservation or check out our menu today to learn how you can sample all of the best food in Kansas City thanks to our executive chef. If you’re searching for the best places to eat in KC, come to one of our two locations and discover for yourself why we’re one of the most highly-rated barbecue joints and restaurants in Kansas City.
For more information about the Kansas City area, see our locations.