Barbecue is a polarizing topic. So many regions lay claim to America’s best, but the pitmasters of Kansas City have as strong a claim as anyone. And, there’s unspoken rule, you don’t leave town without inhaling some serious grub. It should be noted, locals take their meats, especially burnt ends and ribs, with all the fixings and dressed in a sweet, spicy and tangy sauce as gospel. From casual roady-style pits to white tablecloths, below, a sampling of our favorites.
This airy Westport restaurant with a wall of pit master trophies doles out plates like the Pitmaster Brisket with classic sauce, provolone cheese and onion straws on a toasted bun or the firebird chicken with spicy slaw and chipotle mayo. The wood-fired grilled plates like the juicy KC Strip Steak pair well with an icy cold pint.
No one should leave Joe’s Kansas City without a helping of either burnt ends (served on Mondays and Saturdays) or the epic, well-documented sandwich called the Z Man which is packed with slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese and topped with two crispy onion rings on a toasted Kaiser roll (a vegetarian version uses smoked Portobello mushrooms) and paired with a cold Boulevard Pale Ale.
Since the 1920’s, this nationally revered barbeque spot has served legions of fans, many of them U.S. Presidents (Barack Obama, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter) in a no-frills space. Sandwiches like the short end ribs served on white Wonder bread or the pulled pork with a full order of French fries, a heaping side of pickles and fountain soda are the only way to go.
The slogan of the longstanding Gates Bar-B-Q is “Hi, May I help you?” which is uttered every time one struts though the famed doors. To complete your experience, order a combination of beef, ham and turkey, beans, cole slaw and potato salad. If by some miracle you’re still hungry, the yammer pie, a triangle of sweet potato goodness, does the trick every time.
What Slaps lacks in atmosphere, it makes up in taste and flavor. This cool, no-frills roadstop is perfect for brisket and sausage (arrive early as these items sell out quickly) doused with spicy sauce. For sides, pick a potato casserole and delicious cheesy corn with pickled jalapenos and two slices of white bread.
Since 1957, this small chain has catered to a crowd craving all things meat: pork, ribs, turkey, and sausage. For dinner, split a full slab of Pork Baby Back Ribs with classic sides like hickory pit beans, cheesy corn bake, and creamy coleslaw. The signature sweet colossal onion rings are hand-breaded daily as are the fried mushrooms with horseradish sauce.
Dine in or carry out at this drive-in style shack with either the Bob-Be-Que chicken served with Texas toast or the largest sandwich on the menu – the Shack Stack with a whopping nine ounces of your favorite meats on a light-toasted white bread.
On Sundays, before the beloved Kansas City Royals or Chiefs take the field, many tailgaters and meat food lovers drop by this old-school, bare bones, midtown joint (est. 1989) which doles out a burnt tip bbq sandwich a3nd ribs galore accompanied by white bread and thick cut French fries.