There is little that defines what the largest city in Missouri that the famous Kansas City Barbecue. As a regular to Kansas City, I look forward to have it every time I am around. It is something you do NOT want to miss.
It all started back in 1908 on Vine St when Henry Perry would sell a slab wrapped in a newspaper out of his food truck to the workers of the garment factory. The cost of a slab back then was a quarter. Don’t think it is that cheap these days!
One of the things that makes Kansas City different from other cities known for their BBQ is one of the specialties is the burnt ends. This sandwich is downright heavenly. Yes, I love KC style but it is really good to anyone.
While there are dozens of shops around the city to get your fix, the goal here is to give you the best of the best. Yea, this is according to American Jamboree and that is open for discussion. This is also about Kansas City barbecue, not Memphis barbecue or Texas barbecue. Let’s get started, shall we?
3. Q39 BBQ in Westport
A new comer to the BBQ scene but one making waves is called Q39 in the Westport district. It does not have the century old heritage that many barbecue shops do in the city but it is getting respect quickly.
Rob Magee, after graduating from Culinary Institute of America in New York ended up working for the Hilton in Kansas City. While there, he formed a competition team and started winning major cook offs all over the country. He was the new kid on the block but he was making heads turn by some pretty well known pit masters.
Q39 is an interested blend of street barbecue and classic trained culinary philosophy. That makes one hell of a burnt end sandwich in the end that people all over Kansas City are learning to love. To say it is in the same ballpark as Arthur Bryant’s and Gates is quite the endorsement.
They are located on 39th Street just pass Summit or one block and a half pass Broadway in Westport District. They open at 11 in the morning and run to about 10 in the evening most days.
2. Arthur Bryant Barbecue
This place is world famous and it is the original shop for Kansas City barbecue. Everyone from Danny Glover to President Obama has come to have their beef. About everyone has been to or plans to visit the restaurant when they are in Kansas City. It is more than just the food that draws people in, there is a culture in the restaurant that is unique.
It became popular because they was just a few blocks away from where the old Kansas City Athletics played in the 1950’s and 1960’s before they relocated to Oakland. People would come before or after the games and enjoy some great Kansas City barbecue. It also become part of baseball culture in KC.
The sauce they use, while is a secret, is based in vinegar which make it have tangy taste which some really like. I am personally prefer a more tomato based barbecue sauce.
They are located at 1727 Brooklyn St just north of E. Truman Rd. (a few blocks away is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum) They open at 10 in the morning and go until about 9:30 in the evening every day of the week. If you are not in Kansas City and want to try the sauce at home, you can order it on their website as well.
1. Gates Barbecue
The winner for American Jamboree is Gates. It is a locally owned chain of restaurants around the city that is always packed and for good reason. The Kansas City barbecue is just that good. People will line up out the door at times to get some. I have been in that long line more than I care to remember.
While the meat is prepared much of the same way as Arthur Bryant, they have a very different philosophy when it comes to the sauce. They are tomato based. It gives it a much sweeter taste and that is what draws people by the masses. The place is loved so much that rapper Tech 9 talks about going there in his songs.
They are all over the city (even at the Kansas City speedway) but I find the one on Main and Linwood in Midtown to be the one easiest to get into quickly without the line. I also try and wait for after the lunch rush to go for my BBQ.
Here is some thoughts from Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmerman on Kansas City Barbecue culture.