Kansas City barbecue bleg

What is the best barbecue in Kansas City?  It was once Arthur Bryant's but is that really still the best?  I mean The Best.  Many people — not just me — will benefit from your correct answer to this question.


Oklahoma Joe's

I lived in KC for many years. Please, I need more detail. What do you want? Lamb ribs (my personal fave)? Burnt ends (my second personal fave)? Ribs? Depending on what you like, there are different places in KC that specialize in these.

Then there are the side issues: do you care about the fries? How do you feel about white bread? How far are you willing to travel outside the KC limits?

If you love BBQ, these questions are profound. Overall, just for style and tradition, you still won't go wrong at AB's.

But you can search Chowhound for yourself too.

I second Gates, though Arhtur Bryant's is still great.

Visiting KC a couple years ago, I had Jack Stack and I can attest that it was truly excellent. Then I saw Curt Schilling go out and throw a horrible baseball game.

I'm a KC native and I will second Fiorella's Jack Stack in Martin City. True, it is a bit high brow, but the sides are just as important as the meat for a full BBQ experience. Get a stack of rings, spinach salad, and a baked potato to go with meat and make a couple hour visit out of it.

having come of age in the long fall shadows of the american royal, i can speak authoritatively as to the best bbq in kcmo. of course, calvin trillin is never wrong: arthur bryant's is the best, but has such a unique taste that many people from outside the area do not like it. a much more popular choice and an almost equally unique kc experience is gates bbq. this #1-#2 punch is unsurpassed. a recent competitor for the upper echelon is oklahoma joe's. their quick rise to prominence in a very saturated and mature market is proof that they have something valuable. outside of these "big 3," let me offer a few diamonds in the rough:

1. the wabash - located a stone's throw from the historic elms hotel & spa (where truman was staying the night dewey defeated him) in excelsior springs, mo, this restaurant is out of the way, but a local juggernaut.

2. the smoke stack bbq - many heartlanders will tell you that the smokehouse bbq chain is their favorite. i prefer the unique atmosphere and food of the family owned smoke stack. not only is the table service reminiscent of the rendezvous in memphis, the location on wornall road will give patrons a sense of the real kansas city. the last time i visited after a lengthy soccer tournament weekend, a lone hubcap rolled through the intersection of 90th and wornall road, like a sagebrush in the august dusk.

3. parker's - this watering hole in a parkville strip mall serves up great barbeque with real local color.

Grew up in KC: one of my favorites was Snead's BBQ in Belton, MO, quite a ways outside the town limits. Remember: all the best ethnic food is in the suburbs, right? :)

Oklahoma Joe's. The original location, in the gas station. The Z-Man Sandwich. With a side of fries that's bigger than your head. Heaven.

Oklahoma Joe's is good.

Smoke Stack BBQ has excellent sandwiches as well.

There's also a place in Spring Hill, KS (south of KC) called K & M BBQ (http://www.kandmbbq.com/), which is my personal favorite.

Trust me - Oklahoma Joe's pulled pork sandwich.

Gates. Hard to go wrong.

And if you're going, see if they're serving McRibs at the local McDonalds' franchises. Seriously. They're unique among McDonalds' regional fare.

The only worthy BBQ suggestion in this thread is LC's: 5800 Blue Pkwy, at Coal Mine Rd, Kansas City, MO 64129

If you don't go there you are missing out on Kansas City Barbeque.

They focus on the meat, as they should, and the fries, rings and beans are pretty much the best, short of homemade.

Depends on your taste. Bryants is better in my opinion, but Gates's is a little more mainstream. The place which no one else has mentioned is the Rosedale Barbeque. Be sure to order an RC Cola at Rosedale.

The really fantastic thing about KC barbeque is the sheer number of quality joints, and the fact that it's never gone upscale. Most of the quality joints are still in their original locations, although a few have opened up satellites. You can get a (huge) sandwich, fries and a coke at Bryant's for about $10. The guy who said KC is a middle class paradise is right.

It's been mentioned a lot, but Oklahoma Joe's is my favorite sandwich. I would take any out-of-towner there over any of the others mentioned. The Z-man is a delicious, though non-traditional, BBQ sandwich.

Worrying about the possible differential utility between the very good place you are and the very good place you otherwise might have gone may well be a greater disutility than the difference, whatever it was.

I'm a fan of LC's, but the atmosphere just isn't quite right. I think I need to be screamed at ("Hi, may I help you?") and be afraid to use the restroom facilities in order to achieve the proper barbeque experience.
Burnt End Sandwich @ Gates - there is nothing else.

Although I have a soft spot for a paper bag full of greasy fries from Bates City Barbeque, assuming they're still around.

Anyone that suggested Gates should be promptly IP-banned from the site, as all future intellectual contributions of theirs are called into question.

LC's. Maybe Oklahoma Joe's for the fries or if you want provolone on your sandwich for some godforsaken reason.

Order the burnt ends "sandwich," a combination brisket and pork sandwich, ribs, or all 3.

1. Arthur Bryant's
2. Oklahoma Joe's
3. Gates

We happen to live in the middle of all the legendary bbq places mentioned - just down the road from Okla Joe's and not far from LC's, Gates off the plaza, two Jack Stacks and Gates. The family votes as others above - Okal. Joes, Gates and then Jack Stack.

But here are two of my favorite underrated local places. First is Wyandotte 2 - good ribs and great fries. And Hayward's has always been very good. So try both of those for a little local flavor.

It is possible, just maybe, that there is no one best place.

Happy birthday!

My vote goes to LC's.

Oh, he also lists Rosedale, which one person mentioned here.

So the wall of Willard's in Chantilly is an excellent guide to BBQ joints throughout the country.

From my perspective in exile in Colorado, I'd take Gates or ABs any day. The best I can muster these days is a bottle of KC Masterpiece and a great imagination!

I don't know why it pains me to say that the best BBQ in KC comes from a place with "Oklahoma" in the name, but Oklahoma Joe's is hard to beat. The ribs and the pulled pork are the best in town.

I recommended Oklahoma Joe's earlier, but I ought to qualify that: I didn't discover truly good BBQ until I found Lockhart, TX. In Lockhart, sides and sauces are either unavailable or an afterthought to the meat. In KC, the sides and sauces are essential because the meat can't stand on it's own.

Gates, then Jack Stack - both excellent and much better than the dog food passing for barbeque I now eat here in Indiana...

i don't remember the name but it's at 51st and i think main, across from the caberet, if that's still there. best sweet potato fries w/ sauce i know of.
no, my mistake, google says it's closed and for sale. so the answer is that the best barbeque in kc isn't there any more, it's a memory.

I love this thread. Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the BBQ in KC. But I went to school not too far from there and remember Arthur Bryant's with great fondness, both for the food and the atmosphere. And some of my friends that live in and around KC, or are from there, seem to swear by Gates. But, obviously, there are multiple comments here already that answer your question far better than mine.

1. AB's for the atmosphere and history. Go on a Monday night and then hit the Blue Room in the Historic Jazz district for the free Monday Night Jam. Pure KC
2. Smokestack on Wornall for lunch.
3. Oklahoma Joe's on the weekend.

Why limit yourself!

Good comments above. I'd second Bryant's as the best. OK Joes is right behind- gotta get the brisket at OK Joes it's so good you barely even need the sauce. One that I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned- Hayward's, down on Antioch and College. Their sauce is GREAT with chicken. Also try sausage when in KC- not pork, sausage. Also try the spicy barbeque sauces, kind of unique to the KC region.

LC's is also a surprise hit but bring your appetite, it makes the portions elsewhere look small (and they ain't small anywhere!).

Someone else said that Kansas City is a middle class paradise. Almost true- it'd need a mountain range and a beach for that, but other than that life is remarkably good here. I moved 2 1/2 years ago from the east coast and live in Prairie Village. It is an awesome place and the homes would sell at 2-3x the value back east. The longer I live in the midwest, the less I ever want to live on either coast again. Life is great out here!

ps- if you ever come back in the spring make a note to check out a small town rodeo or, if you want some fantastic barbeque, the Lenexa barbeque cook-off. In theory, they're not supposed to let you sample. Just show up after 2, once the contestants have submitted their recipes. That's all I have to say about that.

There ARE lots of good choices. I might suggest a breakfast-lunch-dinner trifecta of Bryant's (the location at the casino boat, not the original one), Oklahoma Joe's (hands down, the best in town - especially if you order a pulled pork sandwich with the fries and beans) and Jack Stack. If you go to Jack Stack on the Plaza, they will give you a tour of the kitchen. Way cool.

Have fun in my hometown.

Gates!!! Bryants sucks.

Just came back from KC. Jack Stack was excellent for burnt ends and angus rib. Burnt ends were just tasty in a unique way. Angus ribs were very rich, beefy, and melt in your mouth. Brisket was mediocre--kind of dry and thin and insignificant.

I am a big BBQ fan and travel the country on business, and always take the opportinity to test new places. If Jack Stack is representative of your BBQ, then KC is VERY overrated. Disappointing to say the least. I'll try some of the others, but that place is crossed off the list.

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