There’s no food more closely tied to the heritage of Kansas City than barbecue. Undeniably, the two are practically synonymous, with barbecue restaurants lining virtually every street in Kansas City. From USDA-certified beef to mutton and house-made sausages, there’s no limit to what the barbecue enthusiasts of Kansas City will try to cook on a grill or a smoker. Restaurants push the boundaries of barbecue every day to come up with new ideas or recipes that will have customers lining up all the way down the block just for a taste. If you’re keen on trying the best that Kansas City has to offer, you definitely have to stop by one of these top barbecue restaurants.
1.Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
© Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
There’s no denying how wildly popular Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que has become since it first opened under the moniker of “Oklahoma Joe’s” many years before. Joe’s has grown into such a sensation that it has even earned a spot on Anthony Bourdain’s list of 13 places to eat at before you die. Many national and regional publications have also published many praises for the top-ranked restaurant, making it a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.
The secret to Joe’s to-die-for barbecue lies in their use of contest-quality meat. Pulled pork, burnt ends, smoked chicken, and many more types of meat are cooked low and slow for hours until the meat falls off the bone. One of the most popular offerings on the menu is the Z-Man Sandwich, which is composed of mouthwatering sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone, onion rings, and their house barbecue sauce, all served in a delicious Kaiser roll. The fare at Joe’s has also won many competitions, such as the American Royal Barbecue competition, the Jack Daniel’s World BBQ Championship, and the World Brisket Open.
3002 West 47th Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66103, Phone: 913-772-3366
2.BB’s Lawnside BBQ
© BB’s Lawnside BBQ
There are three things that BB’s Lawnside BBQ does exceptionally well: Live blues, beer, and barbecue. A one-of-a-kind barbecue restaurant in Kansas City, BB’s is owned and operated by Lindsay and Jo Shannon, self-proclaimed blues and barbecue lovers who frequently showcase their outstanding music collection to a full-house of diners and music enthusiasts. Blues paraphernalia cover the walls of the restaurant, creating a lively atmosphere despite the bare-bones setup of the joint.
BB’s has built a top-notch BBQ reputation on their pork ribs and other succulent meaty offerings cooked in a smoker from circa the 1950s. Popular sides at this restaurant are the battered fries and baked beans, which pair well with their perfectly seasoned barbecue. Other must-tries at BB’s also include Louisiana favorites like their Swampman Boudin Balls, Smokey Jo’s Gumbo, and Dirty Red’s Jambalaya. Need more of a reason to visit this joint? Their food and lively atmosphere are so good that BB’s Lawnside BBQ has even been featured on shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
1205 E. 85th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64131, Phone: 816-822-7427
3.BBQ restaurants: Q39
You know you’re in for a treat when you’ve got a national barbecue champion at the helm of a restaurant. This is exactly the case for Q39, which has enjoyed plenty of attention thanks to Chef Rob Magee. Magee has a penchant for pushing the boundaries of barbeque and, with three decades of experience at the pit, he certainly has a distinct flair to his cooking style. The busy restaurant marries rustic charm with modern design and promotes coming together as a community, with features like a large communal table and a patio with beautiful urban views.
Crowd pleasers at Q39 include the certified Black Angus beef brisket and the house-made Chipotle Sausage. Diners also enjoy the distinct smokiness and flavor of the chargrilled chicken. Hefty plates of meat are a standard at Q39 and are served with mouthwatering sides like apple coleslaw, a choice of potato salad or beans, and fresh rolls. Burger enthusiasts shouldn’t miss out on the ground brisket burgers either.
1000 W. 39th Street, Kansas City, Missouri, Phone: 816-255-3753
4.Danny Edwards Boulevard Barbecue
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Barbecue is more than just a family business for Danny Edwards. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if barbecue sauce ran through his veins instead of blood. It was Danny’s father who sparked his love for the Kansas City staple when he opened the family’s first barbecue joint, Jake’s Barbecue, during the years of the Great Depression. While working with his father, Danny developed his appreciation for the craft. He later took family recipes and ventured off to start his own restaurant.
With 23 long years of experience in slow cooking and smoking meats, Danny Edwards’ Boulevard Barbecue has become a fixture in the industrial district. Danny hand-cuts the meat himself with dishes like the tender pulled pork and brisket sandwich sending people to foodie heaven. How busy can this barbecue joint really be? The restaurant has been featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. You won’t regret a visit to this hot-spot.
2900 SW Boulevard, Kansan City, Missouri, Phone: 816-283-0880
5.Jack Stack Barbecue
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Over five decades of consistently mouthwatering barbecue and a fantastic menu are a few of the reasons why Jack Stack Barbecue has enjoyed overwhelming success in Kansas City. At their core, Jack Stack Barbecue has been committed to delivering remarkable experiences through traditional Kansas City barbecue since 1957. Their hard work and commitment have resulted in immense popularity amongst locals and a total of five regularly packed locations in the metro. These branches can be found at Lee’s Summit, Overland Park, Freight House, the Country Club Plaza, and Martin City.
While classic menu items like the beef brisket, roasted ham, and hickory-smoked meats are typical favorites, offerings like their lamb ribs have garnered national attention. Other house favorites include their trout entrees, wood-fired chicken, and sausage gumbo. Let’s not forget mouthwatering sides like the cheesy corn bake, hearty Hickory Pit Beans and treats like Mom’s Carrot Cake. Guests can enjoy all of these delicious delights in a setting decorated with antique brick and natural wood for a rustic environment.
Country Club Plaza, 4747 Wyandotte Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64112, Phone: 816-531-7427
6.BBQ restaurants: Slap’s BBQ
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Short for “Squeal Like a Pig”, Slap’s BBQ started back in 2013 as a competition cooking team comprised of two brothers, Mike and Joe Pearce. After phenomenal success in barbecue competition circuits and a second-place finish in Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, Slap’s BBQ finally opened their first humble restaurant in Kansas City. With a passion for perfection and traditional barbecue, the brother duo was greeted with instant success, selling out of hundreds of pounds of product in just a few hours on opening day.
Today, Slap’s BBQ’s commitment is evident as they still sell out every day. They are also still very active in the competitive circuit of Kansas City, competing in up to 35 contests per year out of sheer passion for barbecue. When dining at Slap’s BBQ, make sure to try a pound or two of the burnt ends, the certified Angus beef brisket and their fall-off-the-bone pork. Without a doubt, each bite will like utter meaty heaven.
553 Central Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66101, Phone: 913-213-2726
7.Smokin’ Guns BBQ
© Smokin’ Guns BBQ
When Smokin’ Guns BBQ claims that their food is award-winning, they aren’t playing around. Owned by the husband-and-wife duo of Phil and Linda Hopkins, Smokin’ Guns BBQ has been in the business of slow-cooked meat since 1997. They started out in the competitive circuit with 400 contests (and counting) across 15 states under their belts. One of their most prestigious wins was at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue Contest in 1999, where they took home the title of Grand Champion.
The Smokin’ Guns BBQ legacy lives on in their restaurant, where they serve up their award-winning recipes to hungry customers daily. Taking pride in using only the best quality meats, each dish provides incredible flavor with many claiming that additional sauce isn’t necessary at all. Savvy foodies ought to try the Big Gun Combo Platter, a heaping plate of four baby back ribs and your choice of beef brisket, ham, pulled pork, sausage, or turkey. The platter also comes with three side dishes of your choice, bread, and delicious pickles.
1218 Swift Street North, Kansas City, Missouri 64116, Phone: 816-221-2535
8.BBQ restaurants near me: Char Bar
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Barbecue is a century-long tradition at Kansas City and Char Bar goes to great lengths to pay homage to the many incredible pit masters who have gone before them, with their own version of low-and-slow smoked meats. With legendary barbecue competitor Mitch Benjamin running the show, Char Bar dishes up expertly wood-charred, smoked, and grilled meat at their 10,000-square-foot beer garden. While guests wait for their meals to come out, they can enjoy backyard amusement in the form of bocce, ping-pong, and lawn croquet.
House recommendations include signature trays like the Naked Burnt Ends, The Whole Hog, and The Holy Trinity, all of which are served with pickles, toast, and a choice of fixings. Ravenous patrons with a hankering for all kinds of low-and-slow can try taking on The Whomp! Platter, which comes with every kind of meat the Char Bar has on hand, along with a whole bucket of fries, a jar of pickles, and two sides. They don’t call the Char Bar the “House of Meat” for nothing. Things to Do in Kansas City
4050 Pennsylvania Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111, Phone: 816-389-8600
© Woodyard Bar-B-Que
If you’re looking for authentic old-school Kansas City barbecue, you just can’t beat Woodyard Bar-B-Que. This no-frills barbecue joint lets their food do all the talking, which usually results in long lines of eager patrons snaking around the block. All of the magic happens in the back, at the wood yard, where three brick-encased smokers work day and night to produce some of the best barbecue that Kansas City has to offer.
The ribs at Woodyard are a particular favorite and have been voted the best ribs in Kansas City by locals. Other lip-smacking dishes to try include the chili, which has been raved about by The Pitch and Food & Wine in the past. Large groups, or a small group of extra-hungry diners, can also sink their teeth into the mammoth platter known as the Merriam Mixer, which features eight different kinds of smoked meats including turkey, sausage, burnt ends, pulled pork, and brisket.
3001 Merriam Lane, Kansas City, Kansas 66106, Phone: 913-362-8000
© Rosedale Barbecue
Fired-up since 1934, Rosedale Barbecue is home to bone-a-fide Kansas City barbecue and has been family-run ever since the shop first opened. Often joking that the entire family has smoke running through their veins, the joint is run by the Rieke family and stays true to barbecue tradition. Spectacular food combined with exceptional and fast service is what has kept Rosedale Barbecue in business for decades alongside a passion for juicy smoked meat.
To maintain the quality of their dishes, Rosedale Barbecue sticks to the basics and serves only brisket, ham, pork, turkey, chicken, and their ever-popular ribs. Having started as a hotdog shop in the beginning, the family stays true to their roots and still has their quality dogs on the menu up to this day. Regulars swear by the barbecue-style chili and urge newcomers to try a generous serving of the delicious fare alongside their meat of preference.
600 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, Kansas 66103, Phone: 912-262-0343
11.BBQ restaurants near me: Gates BBQ
© Gates BBQ
With several locations in and around Kansas City, it’s no surprise that the crimson roof and sculpture of a man in a top hat have become symbolic of incredible barbecue. Established in 1946 by the Gates family, the restaurant serves their signature barbecue cafeteria style at every location. Long lines are a common occurrence at Gates BBQ, especially during the weekends, but don’t be discouraged. There’s plenty of food to go around.
Hickory-wood fire is the key ingredient in the signature meaty offerings at Gates BBQ, but what really has people coming back for more is the house barbecue sauce. Today, two versions of the sauce are served, the tangy classic that got people hooked to begin with and the sweet variation for those who want a little less tang in their sauce. The beef brisket is the unquestionable favorite at Gates BBQ, while the beef on bun sandwiches also receive high praise from regulars.
1325 Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri 64110, Phone: 816-531-7522
12.Arthur Bryant’s BBQ
© Arthur Bryant’s BBQ
With past clientele including names like Steven Spielberg, Wilt Chamberlain, and Presidents Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, there’s no denying that there’s something truly special about the food at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ. The barbecue joint sends mouthwatering smoke wafting throughout the neighboring, beckoning meat lovers to their antique red and white awning establishment for over 80 years. As a piece of Kansas City’s barbecue history, the restaurant has a lot to live up to; they certainly deliver, with a no-frills attitude and heaping serving sizes.
Popular menu items include the burnt ends, pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket, and whole slabs of ribs. Meanwhile, sides like the baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw add a delicious element to every meal. Make sure to dip the meat into the tangy sauce, made with plenty of vinegar, to get the full experience and to fully understand what makes Arthur Bryant’s BBQ one of Kansas City’s greats.
1727 Brooklyn Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri 64127, Phone: 816-231-1123
13.Papa Bob’s BBQ
© Papa Bob’s BBQ
The culmination of a lifelong passion for all things barbecue, Papa Bob’s BBQ features recipes developed by Papa Bob himself with the uncanny flair and flavor of Kansas City-style barbecue. Situated in Bonner Springs, the restaurant serves meat that been hickory smoked in a family owned state-of-the-art Southern Pride smoker. Daily menu offerings include brisket, baby back ribs, burnt ends, smoked corned beef, and pastrami, to name a few. They’ve even got smoked catfish on Wednesdays for those who want to take a short break from red meat.
Diners looking for a challenge can try the signature Ultimate Destroyer Sandwich, which is comprised of 4.5 pounds of meat on a 12-inch hoagie bun along with 6 slices of bread, tons of pickles or peppers, and a pound and a half of french fries. If you haven’t quite got that big of an appetite, the sandwich makes a great shared meal between family friends as well. Don’t forget to try Papa Bob’s horseradish pickle chips for a real explosion of flavor.
11610 Kaw Drive, Kansas City, Kansas 66111, Phone: 913-442-4210
14.Georgia’s Back Porch Restaurant
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Half barbecue joint and half bar, Georgia’s Back Porch Restaurant greets eager guests with a hand-tagged sign outside an unassuming brick-walled building. There’s a very hole-in-the-wall feel to the restaurant, which draws curious visitors into the establishment as well. Despite this, the richly flavored food keeps patrons coming back for more. The restaurant is owned and operated by Miss Georgia, who started cooking at the age of 6. Raised on a farm in Mississippi, Miss Georgia takes decades of cooking know-how and applies it to each and every one of her stand-out dishes.
An apparent crowd pleaser is the pulled pork sandwich, which is served on buttery and toasted white bread. Barbecue staples like ribs and beef brisket are also available on the menu. Curious foodies can try some of the dishes that Miss Georgia herself grew up eating, listed on the non-barbecue menu. What makes the dining experience even better are the people that frequent the restaurant. Friendly and easy to talk to, you’ll walk into the restaurant hungry and leave with new friends in addition to a content belly.
5912 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64129, Phone: 816-982-9785
15.BBQ restaurants near me: LC’s Barbecue
© LC’s Barbecue
Don’t let the disposable tableware and limited seating space fool you, LC’s Barbecue doesn’t play around when it comes to good old-fashioned low-and-slow cooked meat. LC’s staff only have one thing in mind, and that’s producing incredible barbecue from their legendary smoker. Being situated near the sports stadiums in the city, LC’s is almost always packed with sports and barbecue enthusiasts eager to get a bite of their signature dishes.
Customers swear by LC’s humongous burnt end sandwiches, which are smothered in their house-made sauce, and are also eager to recommend the tender and complexly flavored beef brisket. Huge portions of fries are also a must with every order, and cold beers are at the ready to help you wash everything down. In terms of sides, customers recommend classic baked beans and also recommend trying the spicy fried green beans. Just make sure to decide on your order quick or risk impatient stares from the dozens lined up behind you.
5800 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64129, Phone: 816-923-4484
15 Best BBQ Restaurants in Kansas City
- Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Photo: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
- BB’s Lawnside BBQ, Photo: BB’s Lawnside BBQ
- BBQ restaurants: Q39, Photo: Q39
- Danny Edwards Boulevard Barbecue, Photo: Courtesy of exclusive-design - Fotolia.com
- Jack Stack Barbecue, Photo: Courtesy of weyo - Fotolia.com
- BBQ restaurants: Slap’s BBQ, Photo: Courtesy of PhotoEd - Fotolia.com
- Smokin’ Guns BBQ, Photo: Smokin’ Guns BBQ
- BBQ restaurants near me: Char Bar, Photo: Courtesy of igishevamaria - Fotolia.com
- Woodyard Bar-B-Que, Photo: Woodyard Bar-B-Que
- Rosedale Barbecue, Photo: Rosedale Barbecue
- BBQ restaurants near me: Gates BBQ, Photo: Gates BBQ
- Arthur Bryant’s BBQ, Photo: Arthur Bryant’s BBQ
- Papa Bob’s BBQ, Photo: Papa Bob’s BBQ
- Georgia’s Back Porch Restaurant, Photo: Courtesy of wideonet - Fotolia.com
- BBQ restaurants near me: LC’s Barbecue, Photo: LC’s Barbecue
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of anaumenko - Fotolia.com