Kansas City (KC) is popular for many things, and when it comes to BBQ, there’s no shortage of restaurants to satisfy your longing for juicy, well-spiced, flavorful meals. It is what I call the home of the sauciest BBQ, with several spots opened up in recent years. At the moment, the number is well above 100, and none of them seem to be closing down anytime soon.
The traditional way of cooking BBQ in KC is as a large, dressed meat with spices and tangy sauces to keep you wanting more with every bite. But how can you talk about Kansas City without mentioning burnt ends? It was in this city these meat candies got introduced to the BBQ world.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a quick snack or a large steak to keep your mouth busy for the whole night. KC has got you covered. The city has a BBQ festival where pitmasters and lovers of everything grilled meet (pun intended) to have a nice time. Like the cofounder of the Barbeque Society puts it, ‘As long as it moves, you’ll see it on the menu of KC’s restaurants.’
There are lots of options to pick from, so what are the best restaurants to get the best BBQ? Here are my favorite BBQ spots in Kansas City.
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Charles Picks For The Best BBQ in Kansas City – Quick Links
Can’t wait to read why I think these spots are the best BBQ in Kansas City? Click straight through to each joints website to check out the menu!
If you are just starting out with grilled or cooked meat, then I think Fiorella’s Jack Stack is the best joint to try out in Kansas City. I love eating in all five restaurants, not just because of the diverse menu but also the quality of food. I’m more of a tender meat-loving griller, and the ones I get from Fiorella’s Jack Stack is all I can ask for. It is well-cooked on hickory wood, tasty, and with just the right tone of Mr. Brown.
Even though I love all five Jack Stack’s restaurants, I’ll suggest you try out the Freight House first. It has the perfect setting of an old freight yard and 25-foot ceilings to put you in the right mood to eat the best meal of your life.
I’m really impatient when kept on a line, so having the option to order my juicy grilled meals makes me love this place more. But not just that, there’s also an option to get a nationwide delivery to any location. You can order anything you desire in Fiorella’s Jack Stack, but don’t forget to get it with some tangy sauce. And like every other joint on my list, their burnt end stew is delicious.
Must Eat: Brisket and beef ribs
Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue
If you find yourself in a gas station, but still savoring barbeque, then Joe’s Kansas City Bar-b-que is the right place to be. The spot also has three other places in Kansas City to get delicious food. Midwestern meals are close to the top of my checklist of the best Barbeque to eat monthly, and this joint is my go-to spot for it. The reason why you’ll often meet a queue outside is that it’s a world-class joint that even pitmasters go to learn a thing or two.
I’m all for trying out new things, and the Rocket pig is one delicacy I don’t regret eating. Like the Z-Man brisket and Carolina Pork sandwich, the delicacy has nice char lines everyone likes in food. But the list doesn’t end there; there are so many things you can try out in Joe’s Kansas City Bar-b-que.
The joint is really good that I have to agree with Pitmaster Anthony Bourdain that Joe’s is one of the 13 places to eat before you die. But if you are not convinced of how good Joe’s is, the option of getting a meal from the spot without stepping out of your house should. Better still, I love the 180-room event space where I get the best chef-prepared meals.
Must Eat: Slaughterhouse Five and the burnt Ends with Pulled Pork
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue
There are quite a number of elite historical joints in Kansas City, but Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue is at the top with the big boys for me. You can count me in whenever succulent meat is on the menu, and this joint is one of my favorite places to get them. With a combination of oak and hickory woods, the flavor of Arthur Bryant’s barbecue gives me a feeling words can’t describe. Their meals are really that good.
I like having options, and this Kansas spot provides me with so many that I could try one every day of every month. And do not forget to add the sauces to whatever you eat in Arthur Bryant’s. Original, or Rich and Spicy sauces with a lot of servings is my favorite, but you definitely have to try Arthur’s fries. They have always been cut by hand and is one of the most iconic things about the joint.
Arthur’s Barbecue links back to the godfather of barbecue in Kansas City, Henry Perry, so I know I’m in for a treaty, delicious meal anytime I’m at Brooklyn Avenue and 18th Street. And with a couple of treats for the kids, I don’t see how I’ll not be eating in this spot more often.
Must Eat: Half burnt ends and half briskets
When I first heard the name of this restaurant, I didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t have the usual ‘barbecue’ or some kind of variation at the end, so I wasn’t really convinced. All that changed when I ate just one meal at Q39.
Relatively new to the business, Q39 is what you get when you put a classically trained chef in a city known for the best barbecues. With fired smokers and a wood fire grill, you know you are in for the freshest, plentiful meats you can ever get in Q39. The pork ribs are rubbed with tang, thick sauce, and there are quite some innovative touches to the traditional dishes in this spot. I don’t think you’ll ever eat a better salmon with smoked fried chicken or tasty sausages anywhere else in Kansas City.
Any restaurant that has the option for me to order is always going to be one of my favorites, and Q39 sure gives me that option. The setting of a vintage barn with round tables and a patio always puts me in the right mood to eat Q39’s delicacies. Different textures come with every bite.
Must Eat: You must try out the Judge’s Plate, but don’t you dare forget Q39’s mac-n-cheese.
Gates Bar-B-Q is the ideal place to get juicy, delicious meals in Kansas City. Founded close to a century ago, the restaurant has maintained its quality over the years, which is one of the reasons I see myself eating there almost every Friday night. But what really puts the spot on the map is it barbecue sauce. You can’t beat that tangy classic version or sweetened sauce.
This joint has the right atmosphere to put you in the mood for eating with its crimson roof and vintage look. Be ready to order immediately you get in because they have lots of customers in Gates Bar-B-Q. With different categories like entrées, trays, meat by the pound, sandwiches, sides, and specialty items on the menu, there are unlimited options to select from. The popular menu is the perfect representation of the city’s style: ribs wand ham gazed with reddish-brown sauce with French files to top it off.
I love that there are also seasonings to eat your meals with at Gates Bar-B-Q. The three most popular ones are the original classic, hot-n-spicy, and the sweet and mild. Sprinkle them on your wood-fired hickory meal, and you’ll be dazzled.
Must Eat: Double-Decker sandwiches and the Hoagie served burnt ends
You can’t call yourself a griller or barbecue lover in Kansas City when you haven’t eaten at LC’S Bar-B-Q. Trust me; it’ll change your perspective of what barbecued food should be like. Its prime location near the sport’s stadium in Missouri is one of the reasons why I really like the restaurant. I can get a meal at LC’s Bar-B-Q and go and watch a game in no time.
Another thing that attracts me to the restaurant is the price of the food. At LC’s Bar-B-Q, I don’t have to break the bank because I want a barbecued meal.
Salty, smoked, chewy, sauce-drenched, you name it; this spot has got it all. With only a handful of tables, most customers are there to grab a quick bite and leave, so you’ll often find long lines. The vast options on the menu is definitely worth trying out, and there’s cold beer in the fridge to balance out that spicy, tangy taste.
The staff at LC’s are one of the most welcoming in Kansas City. They help every hungry diner decide what barbecued meal to try out. LC’s Bar-B-Q is one place pitmasters visit to get ideas on how to make classic meals.
Must Eat: Crisp and tender fries.
Slap’s BBQ is one of my best eateries to go to in Kansas City. They open early, and before nigh time, their award-winning dishes sell out. The barbecued meals are really that good. Founded by Joe and Mike Pierce in 2014, Slap’s BBQ is slowly climbing up the ladder in the barbecue world.
Looking at this spot’s menu, I know I am in for a nice time every time I step into Slaps BBQ. The daily menu includes poundage, sandwiches, meat combo plates, one meat plates, and sides to keep you wanting more. In all these categories, there’s plenty of turkeys, sausage, pork, and slowly-smoked brisket for diners. But that’s not all! You can have the joint cater for your next party at an affordable price. There’s also an option to pre-order your meal by calling a contact number.
Taco Tuesdays are my favorite days of the week because I know I am in for either deep-fried burnt ends, burnt end street Tacos, or some other combination involving Tacos. But if you are not much of a Taco lover, there are also daily specials you can try out. All these are available in a serene atmosphere.
For a spot to compete in 25 to 35 competitions each season, you should expect only the best from them. And that’s exactly what Slap’s BBQ provides!
Must Eat: Burnt ends and ribs with the Sample Platter
Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ
The barbecue business had always run through the blood of the Edwards, with Danny’s father starting Jake’s barbecue decades ago. So, when Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ opened in Kansas City, I knew that the longstanding family tradition of class and style would be what I’ll meet. And the restaurant met my expectations.
In Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ, the meat is hand-cut by the owner, Danny Edwards. But what I love most about this joint is its setting. The red checked tablecloth in a calming atmosphere puts me in the mood to eat some delicious meals. And you get to serve-yourself beverages to balance off that tangy, spicy taste!
You’ll not be doing yourself any favor if you have a barbecue meal at Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ without trying out the special sauce. It’s a sweet but spicy and just the right quantity for every meal. But my favorite meat option is the brisket sandwich and tender pulled pork.
The food quality at Danny Edwards BLVD BBQ is out of this world, little wonder the spot is always packed even on Sundays when they open for only 4 hours. There are not a lot of joints where pitmasters go to eat daily like this joint.
Must Eat: Dany’s Special with slides of your choice.
If you eat BBQ a lot, you’ll know that Scott’s Kitchen is one of the best places you can go to in Kansas City. With the large and innovative menu, you’ll have many options like chicken wings to tacos and even smoked meat and fish. The quality is truly amazing!
Located in the North of Kansas City, I love that the restaurant isn’t too fancy or elaborate, and you can grab a bite on your way back from an outing. Even though they have long lines, you are not going to have to wait for more than 20 minutes to get your well-cooked barbecued meals.
At Scott’s Kitchen, two menus for breakfast and lunch are available. On the breakfast menu, you get light meals with eggs and bacon, pancakes, tacos, and beverages to drink. But the real deal is on the lunch menu with mouth-watering sandwiches, racks of rib, smoked meat, and Bern Street Burritos. Scott’s Kitchen can also cater for you if you have a barbecue party coming up soon. But the best part is I get to order meals online from the comfort of my room.
Scott Unscheid, the owner of Scott’s Kitchen, has quite a number of trophies to his name, the most notable being the first-place finish for his delicious briskets.
Must eat: The brisket and Chorizo sausage are my top picks.
We B Smokin
One of the big problems of cross-country flights is that it can be a tough find to get a good spot to eat. We B Smokin is one of my favorite places to eat in Kansas City, and they don’t hide the fact that President Obama has had lunch there before. I found it cool that people actually flew all the way from other cities just to have a bite at this joint. With breakfast and lunch menus, each meal at We B Smokin will take you on a thrilling ride.
Breakfast doesn’t have much meat options to go for, so BBQ lovers aren’t too fascinated about it. But the real armor is exposed in the Lunch and Dinner menu. The list is endless with BBQ sandwiches, desserts, platters, slabs, and even the menu for kids. All of these go at affordable prices!
Unlike many BBQ restaurants, you’ll not meet a queue when you get to this spot — no hype nor stories of unavailable options, just genuine food. And I doubt you will ever meet more friendly waiters than the ones in We B Smokin.
Must Eat: You can’t go wrong in We B Smokin, but I’ll advise you try the cheeseburgers for that finger-licking experience.
Timothy Jones (Big T) is the perfect example of a classic pitmaster. With no gas or electricity, all the meals made in Big T’s brings back the originality of barbecue. And it’s not just the meal that gets to me every time I step into Big T’s. There’s this feeling that prepares me for a great meal that the environment has. The food there is really that good.
There’s no category to the type of food that can is made at Big T’s. Everything from a slab of ribs, rib tips, Italian sausage, double-decker sandwiches, and turkey are all on the menu. Kansas City is well-known for making burnt ends, and Big T’s spot does it the right way. There are also daily specials on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that all include a small drink.
Pitmaster Timothy Jones has not compromised on the classical way of cooking barbecue. All he needs is a little wood flavor and some heat, and he’ll make you a meal of your life.
Big T’s joint is one place that’ll leave your mouth watering for more barbecue.
Must Eat: You have got to try out the beef rib dinner with two sides. Just don’t get addicted to it.
Kansas City is known for its world-class BBQ, and the plates at this spot live up to the reputation of the city. Char Bar is not set in the usual classical way that involves a lot of wooden structures and barn-like decors. Instead, it looks like a modern restaurant, only that it has all the BBQ options you can think of. There is so much to like in this restaurant, so narrowing down the selection can be a tough one.
On the menu, there are five things to pick from. There are meals for lunch and supper, weekend brunch, vegans, and large parties. You’ll also get a happy hour (which is more or less dessert) and libations of different kinds. Out of all these categories, the one that I find the most amusing is the meals for lunch and supper.
The smokehouse sandwiches are well cooked, with the right tone of bark, and the snacks are perfect for eating on the go. There’s also the signature, smoked rib and BBQ trays where you can try out Char Bar’s specials. I love that the right amount of smokiness is in all these meals.
Must Eat: Give the naked burnt ends a trial and be wowed at how delicious they are.
Porky’s Blazin’ Bar-B-Q
Porky’s Blazin’ Bar-B-Q is the go-to spot for meat-lovers in Grain Valley, Kansas City. Not only is it a tasty destination for customers in the area, but it also offers a selection of the finest wines and beers to take with the meals. Owned by Pitmaster Scott Roberts, this restaurant carries the legacy of Dennis Roberts, a popular griller in his days. With several awards to this spot’s name, Porky’s Blazin Bar-B-Q is one of the best places for tender and flavorful meat.
Don’t be confused by the ‘Porky’ in its name. This joint doesn’t only make delicious pork meals but also meat, sandwiches, platters, and sides at affordable prices. And like you would expect from a world-class restaurant, Porky’s Blazin Bar-B-Q has catering options as part of its services. If you are not a big fan of long lines like myself, you’ll appreciate that there is an option to order these delicacies online.
Smoking meat to perfection is not something you do hurridly, and Porky’s Blazin Bar-B-Q takes pride in being able to serve the freshest meats you’ll find in Kansas City.
Must Eat: The porky baby back ribs-slab is definitely one you should try out in this restaurant.
BBQ doesn’t get any better than the ones you’ll find at Woodyard Bar-B-Que. Best known for its old-school authenticity, this restaurant has slowly evolved from a wood yard to a no-frills business. Woodyard Bar-B-Que is located near major highways, and I love this joint because of the mouth-watering options I am provided with.
Many customers have reviewed that the menu in Woodyard Bar-B-Que is the most versatile they’ve ever come across. With ribs, hot wins, burnt end chili, meat, freshly made sides, and specials every day of the week, you’ll definitely love eating in this joint. You get to eat these meals on family-sized tables in a fantastic atmosphere.
Woodyard Bar-B-Que offers professional services with its warm and welcoming staff. The customer service is great, and you also get to skip the long lines and order your food. You’ll not get a more inviting place like Woodyard Bar-B-Que.
Must Eat: Get in for the double sandwiches that go for a reasonable price.
A Little BBQ Joint
The last BBQ restaurant on this list is A Little BBQ Joint. It is a family-run barbecue business that offers great options for sauces, sides, and smoke meat. From its logo, you’ll probably think this is an old-school BBQ spot where the long-lived tradition is held. And you are definitely correct.
On the menu at A Little BBQ Joint, there are appetizers, brisket chilis, sandwiches, chicken, sides, dinner plates, and even meals for kids. It’s the complete package, and I think that’s why I like it even more. But there’s more! A Little BBQ Joint has daily specials from Tuesday to Sunday, and trust me; they are the real deal.
Don’t forget to get whatever you decide to pick with some sauce. They are different flavors and just the right quantity to take you through your BBQ meal. Even though you’ll not find a long queue in this spot, you can order your food online. That’s the icing on the cake!