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Best BBQ in Kansas City

I'm looking for the best food, not the best "experience". I am sure that KC BBQ can live up to its reputation...help me find teh best place to eat it! Thanks.

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  1. This is a really big topic, with a lot of partisans on all sides. Similar in style (if not in scope) to saying "what is the best sushi in San Francisco?" Have you been to KC before? Are you looking for excellent meat? Beef or pork? Excellent sauce? Really good sides? Where in town are you staying? Are you only planning to go to one place or do you want to do a tour?

    1. Arthur Bryants on Brooklyn is legendary Fiorella's Jack Stack and Oklahoma Joe's in teh gas statioin are also faves of mine.

      1. Thanks. Well, being in SF I can tell you there is hardly any great sushi here, so I hope great BBQ in KC is not a myth as well!
        We're stayng @ the Westin Crown Center near Union Station. I've got time for just one dinner. I associate (based on nothing but my own conjecture) KC BBQ with beef but am open to anything. No prior KC BQ experience. Strongly dislike sweet sauce, but do think sauce is important, not more imporatnt than the meat though. Meat first, then great sides (rec's would be great on best sides to get). I heard Jack Stack's is good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tabetai yo

          For what it's worth, here is a link to my take on the barbeque scene here (see first paragraph): http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31060... You can get an idea from that what you would prefer, I think.

          1. re: Tabetai yo

            Jackstack is good and they are in the Freighthouse right next to Union Station. Good sides too.

          2. Not a myth! The food at Jack Stack is excellent, and the location at the Freighthouse is certainly convenient to Crown Center. I think you've twigged to the fact, though, that it isn't really a BBQ "experience." It's really more of a "fine-dining" BBQ experience, and it's in the same building as Lidia Bastianich's place here in town. If you go there, make sure to get the beans. And definitely try the burnt ends. They're the crispy, fatty, carmelized bits on the end of the brisket, kind of a Kansas City thing. You really can't go wrong there -- always excellent! If you're staying at Crown Center and you can only go to one place and you want excellent food, I'd go there.

            If you want to get to one of the BBQ meccas, like Arthur Bryant's, you won't have to go far. There is some debate about whether AB's is all it used to be (you can find on some other threads). I've had some variable meals there, ranging from the best ever to fatty and a little gross. So it's a little more of a risk if you're only eating one meal. The sauce is very good, but odd -- it's gritty (literally, not figuratively). You can get a jar at the airport. The restaurant is gritty (figuratively).

            Another predictably excellent place is Oklahoma Joes. Not open on Sunday, so call ahead. It's in a gas station -- not a converted gas station, but an actual gas station. Much cheaper than JackStack, but really my favorite place in town. Both beef and pork are good. Outstanding sides include french fries and red beans and rice.

            1. Oh man, I think you sold me on the "burnt ends". My mouth is watering just thinking about how good that must be. We'll try Jack Stack's. Thanks to all of you so much!!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Tabetai yo

                And don't forget the beans. I CANNOT emphasize this enough. If you're going to JackStack, order the beans. They cook them in the smoker, under the spit.

                'Nuf said.

                1. re: heatherkay

                  Uh... who eats barbeque without beans?!? ;-) Try the sausage too!

                2. re: Tabetai yo

                  Also, the lamb ribs are very good. If there are 2 of you, I'd go burnt ends and a rib sampler.

                3. I'll follow all this advice, sausage & beans included.
                  Pork ribs, right? How's the beef brisket? Here's a dumb question--is there such a thing as beef ribs??

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tabetai yo

                    In KC, beef ribs are less common. It's more pork ribs and beef brisket.

                    1. re: Tabetai yo

                      Jack Stack serves a 'Crown Prime Beef Rib' entree.

                      if you were to choose to eat beef ribs in KC this certainly would not be a bad choice.
                      they also do a hickory-roasted prime rib.

                    2. Jack Stack has a "cheesy corn casserole" that is a worthy side dish. But make sure you get the beans.

                      1. I was born and raised in KC, but I currently live in Brooklyn and I am often dismayed by what NYC has to offer bbq-wise. With that said, I really miss Arthur Bryant's beef brisket sandwich. The meat is perfectly smoked, usually not over-fatty and the sauce is genuinely one-of-a-kind. And, personally, I like it better in the restaurant than in the bottle. Everyone knows Bryant's, but that doesn't make it overrated. It is delicious and as KC-style as you can get. Gates does decent burnt ends. LC's has wonderful fries. And Jack Stack is terrific, but clearly everyone on this thread thinks so as well. Have fun and eat well!

                        1. I was born here in KC, lived for a time in Dallas and have traveled throughout the south...I am surprised at the regional differences in what constitutes GREAT BBQ. For me and my compatriots in KC, it is definitely sauce (not so much rubs or dry meat). I also need great sides. As many people have said, Bryant's is hit or miss in quality. The sauce, to me, has lots of vinegar in it, definitely not sweet. I like sweeter sauce, like that of K&M BBQ in Spring Hill, KS (about 30 minutes south of KC). Meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy and the beans are excellent. Another that I have not seen mentioned is Zarda on 87th and I-35, also with sweet sauce. These are both traditional BBQ joints, not fancy places with lots of ambiance, just good people and good food. Of course, you can't go wrong with Jack's, I also like their slaw and onion rings. Enjoy KC!

                          1. I love it that you all are so full of recommendations and so willing to help a poor (hungry) out-of- towner. Must be a midwest thing ;-)
                            I am so fired up for Stacks-- there are so many items that sound good. Definitely, pork ribs, (I don't love lamb or prime rib in general) burnt ends, beans (duh) slaw (for me). I may order for my hapless colleague as well--I want to try brisket too. They'll have to roll me outta there. Thanks a bunch all.

                            1. Ate twice (in an 18 hour period!) at Jack Stack (a very short walk from where we were staying). Had the beef rib, the pork baby back ribs, the beef and the pork burnt ends, the beans, the slaw, and the creamy corn thing. It was all soooo good. We liked the beef rib and the beans the best. Those beans alone--with the meat and meat drippings in there--fantastic. Would have liked it a little bit less sweet.
                              Thanks again for your rec's and thanks for the nice weather the last 2 days--we didn't expect that!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Tabetai yo

                                I prefer the spicy barbeque sauce, don't know if you got to try that one or not, but next time, if you didn't! Glad you had a good time!

                              2. Did you order differently for your 2nd visit?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bbqboy

                                  More of the same plus the sliced beef, which was melt-in-your-mouth. Liked the spicy sauce better too.

                                2. I ate at Jack Stack at the Plaza last Thursday night (2/22) and had the beef and pork burnt ends with beans. The stack of onion rings for starters with two dipping BBQ sauces was good too. All the food at our table looked good.