Top Five Barbecue Places in Kansas City

Kansas City is best known for its jazz, "pretty little women," and barbecue. Whether you spell it barbecue, barbeque, BBQ or bar-b-q, here are the best places in Kansas City for slabs, beef brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork and more. So put on your rib bib and try these best known local haunts.

Arthur Bryant's Barbeque
1727 Brooklyn Ave., Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 231-1123
1702 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, Kan. 66111 (913-788-7500)

If you have time for only one barbecue stop in Kansas City, make it Arthur Bryant's Barbeque, the iconic place for smoked meats in the area. In 1974 American author and food writer Calvin Trillon declared Bryant's the "best restaurant in the world" in an article in Playboy magazine. Don't expect a fancy ambiance. Arthur Bryant's is known as much for its plain-Jane decor as its food.

Brooklyn Ave.
Sun. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Mon. - Thurs. 10 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Village West Parkway
Sun. 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Mon. - Thurs. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Best known for
A favorite menu specialty is burnt ends, the barbecue delicacy cut from the pointed end of a cooked beef brisket and put back for more cooking, served alone or on an open-face sandwich. The original sauce tastes more tangy than sweet from its mixture of vinegar, paprika and other ingredients. Two more original sauces are available in the restaurant, as well as online and at Kansas City grocery and specialty stores. Rich and Spicy, the more traditional tomato-based sauce, has the same spices as the original, as well as a touch of brown sugar. Sweet Heat, another tomato-based sauce, features honey mustard and spices with a little heat. Bryant's is also known for such famous visitors as golf champion Tom Watson, actors Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, and James Spader, and U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as presidential nominee John McCain and his vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Price ranges
Sandwiches $9 to $15
Sandwiches with fries $11 to $16
Sides $3 to $4

Nearby points of interest
With two locations, one on each side of State Line Road, Arthur Bryant's in Missouri is close to the 18th Street and Vine Jazz District, the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. In Kansas, you'll find Bryant's in the Legends shopping area near Sporting Park, where Kansas City's MLS soccer team plays, and close to the NASCAR Kansas Speedway.

Insider tip
Arthur Bryant's traces its history to 1908, when Henry Perry, the "father of Kansas City barbecue" opened an alley stand in Kansas City's old Garment District around 8th and Broadway in downtown Kansas City. Brothers Charlie and Arthur Bryant took over in 1940 and moved to the present Missouri location., five blocks north of the old Municipal Stadium, in 1958. The Kansas City Athletics, Kansas City Chiefs, and Kansas City Royals all played at Municipal until 1972, and fans often spotted their favorite sports stars enjoying meals at the famous eatery. (The stadium was torn down in 1976.)

Kansas City's Own Gates Bar-B-Q
1221 Brooklyn, Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 483-3880
1325 East Emanuel Cleaver Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64110 (816) 531-7522
10440 East 40 Highway, Independence, MO 64055 (816) 353-5880
3205 Main Kansas City, MO 64111 (816) 753-0828
103rd & State Line, Leawood, KS 66206 (913) 383-1752
1026 State Ave, Kansas City, KS 66102
(913) 621-1134

With six locations in the Kansas City Metro area, you're bound to be welcomed by "Hi, may I help you?" at a Gates Bar-B-Q location near you. Its first family-owned restaurant opened at 19th and Vine in 1946, not far from Arthur Bryant's current Missouri location. In fact, the first Gates cook had previously worked for Henry Perry, who founded Bryant's.

Brooklyn, Emanuel Cleaver Blvd., Main
Sun. - Thurs.. - 10 a.m. - midnight
Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 1 a.m.

East 40 Highway, State Line, and State Ave.
Sun. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m
Mon. - Thurs.. - 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - midnight

Best known for
From its founding Gates Bar-B-Q has been best known for its somewhat tangy original sauce. Gates also offers sweet and mild, and extra hot varieties for ribs, chicken, sausage, mutton, and generous "regular" sandwiches and double deck combos. Sides include traditional French fries, onion rings, barbecued beans, cole slaw and potato salad. Top off your meal with some Yammer Pie.

Price ranges
Sandwiches $6 to $12
Dinner Entrees $9 to $22
Sides $4 to $6

Nearby points of interest
The 1221 Brooklyn location is close to the 18th Street and Vine Jazz District, the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The 3205 Main location is between the Crown Center Shops, the National World War I Museum, Union Station and the Country Club Plaza.

Insider's tip
"Regular" sandwiches have a generous serving of meat, and an order of fries will feed the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.

Fiorella's Jack's Stack Barbecue
Summit Woods Crossing, 1840 NW Chipman Rd., Lee's Summit, Mo. 64081
Country Club Plaza, 4747 Wyandotte St., Kansas City Mo. 64112
Freight House, 101 W. 22nd St., #300, Kansas City, Mo. 64108
9520 Metcalf, Overland Park, Kan., 66212
13411 Holmes, Martin City, Mo. 64145

Husband and wife Russell and Flora Fiorella, farmers and, later, grocers from Independence, Mo., founded this family barbecue, first known as Smoke Stack Barbecue Restaurant, in a Kansas City storefront in 1957. The name changed in the mid-1970s when the chain expanded and pit masters began cooking gourmet meats on a hickory wood fire to stand out from other barbecue places in the area. Today, the third generation of family members continues the barbecue tradition.

Sun. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Mon - Thur: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Best known for
Along with its more formal décor than typical Kansas City's hole-in-the-wall barbecue joints, Jack's Stack Barbecue is known for a wide variety of wood-fired meats and fish that includes baby back ribs, pork spare ribs, burnt ends, beef brisket, steaks, chicken, lamb, salmon, trout and vegetable kabobs. Favorite sides are the hickory pit beans, cole slaw and cheesy corn bake. The smoked foods have very little seasoning and depend on the sauce for added flavor.

Price ranges
Appetizers $7 to $15
Sandwiches $11 to $18
Lunch Plates $10 to $18
Dinners and Combos $11 to $40

Nearby points of interest
The Freight House location is close to Crown Center Shops, the National World War I Museum, Union Station and the Crossroads Arts District. The 4747 Wyandotte location is in the Country Club Plaza shopping district.

Insider tip
On weekends, you're likely to need reservations. For a less expensive, smaller serving meal, order wings, shrimp or burnt ends from the appetizer menu and add a side. The cheesy corn bake is a local favorite.

Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
3002 West 47th Avenue, Kansas City, Kan. 66103 (913) 722-3366
11950 South Strang Line Road, Olathe, Kan. 66062 (913) 782-6858
11723 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kan. 66211 (913) 338-5151

Zagat has named Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que the best rated barbecue restaurant in Kansas City every year since 2004. Jeff and Joy Stehney, who opened their first Kansas City location in 1996 in an old gas station at 3002 W. 47th Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. The couple are members of a competitive barbecue team called the Slaughterhouse Five, who have won more than 25 Grand and Reserve Grand Championships.

Sun. Closed
Mon, - Thurs. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.

Best known for
Zagat also named the famous Z-Man sandwich the Best Sandwich in Kansas on its50 States, 50 Sandwiches List." The sandwich is served on a Kaiser roll with slow-cooked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, and two onion rings on top. USA Today honored the restaurant for "America's Best Ribs." The BBQ beans are the most traditional side item. The others may appeal to diners with an adventurous approach to food, but not for those used to more commonplace fries, cole slaw, potato salad, dirty rice, and red beans and rice.

Price ranges
Sandwiches $6 to $8
Dinners $9 to $24
Sides around $3

Nearby points of interest
The Leawood location is just east of the Town Center Plaza shopping area. The Olathe location is about 2.5 miles northeast of the historic Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. The original gas station location is in the middle of nowhere, but only about 2 miles west of the Country Club Plaza shopping district.

Insiders tip
Expect to wait in line any time close to lunch or dinner – and sometimes in off hours. However, the staff works fast to serve customers.

BB's Lawnside Blues & BBQ
1205 E. 85th Street, Kansas City, Mo. 64131 (816) 822-7417

A mixture of Kansas City and Louisiana style dishes makes BB's Lawnside Blues & BBQ a Kansas City barbecue lovers' favorite haunt. Try your favorite smoked meat along with Louisiana goulash, jambalaya, or Smokey Jo's gumbo.

Sunday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Mon. Closed
Tue. - Wed. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Thurs. 11 a.m. -10:30 p. m.
Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Best known for
BB's is best known for its burnt ends and ribs, and its meat sampler platter is to die for. For a dining adventure, try the pulled pork sundae, a layered combination of beans, cole slaw and pulled pork served in a pint jar with a dill spear poked into it like a straw.

Price ranges
Appetizers $8 to $18
Sandwiches $8 to $10
Dinners $8 to $15
Sides $2 to $3

Nearby points of interest
BB's is about 2 miles east of Ward Parkway Center shopping mall.

Insiders tip
While dining on some of the finest barbecue in the city, you can enjoy another Kansas City tradition. Listen to live blues bands Thursday through Sunday.

Mary-Lane Kamberg is a professional writer and lifelong resident of Kansas City. She has sampled the fare at many Kansas City barbecue restaurants.