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Jun 18, 2008 12:23 PM

Narrowing the BBQ [Kansas City]

Ok trip coming up in 2 weeks. I have the bbq joints down to:

Bryants on 18th- first possibly only time in KC figure have to try it. How is this location? Do they take ressies?

Gates on Main--how is this location, do they take ressies?

Jack Stack on 22d--Close to where were staying downtown. How is this location, ressies??

LCs on Blue Pkwy--Kind of far out but well have a car. Ressies?

We will probably have to pick 2--lunch and dinner. Any thoughts on which would be better for either meal?

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  1. Jack Stack is the nicest of all in terms of atmosphere - so if you're looking for that then I'd go there. They should take reservations. Bryants on 18th is great - do it for lunch. No reservations and the place is not nice. Gates on Main is fine - nothing great to me but fine for lunch or dinner. LC's has a great rep but is better for lunch or takeout. It's a dump.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jdl98

      It ain't fancy, that is for sure. LC's is a giant smoker, filled with incredible meat, with a few tables and chairs in front of it. Oh, there is also a counter with a couple people behind it, which is what prevents me from just climbing in and eating until I die of smoke inhalation.

    2. I've heard some hit-or-miss type reviews of all of these places. Of the four, Gates gets a certain amount of grief because it's more of an eat-it-and-beat-it kind of a place. But I have to admit that I like Gates, too. Especially the hot and spicy sauce.

      On the whole, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the four places you've listed. I'd also add Oklahoma Joe's to the list of KC's big 5. You might check out this discussion going on right now in another thread (


      As far as reservations, it makes me laugh a little. JackStack probably takes reservations. All the other places -- I would say "joint" rather than "dump." I think they're all perfectly nice in a BBQ joint kind of way.

      A few other notes. I like Bryant's sauce, but it's a little odd. Kind of grainy, like it still has whole mustard seeds in it. If you go to Gates of OK Joes, make sure to try all their sauces. KC BBQ is really about beef rather than pork. Some places will have pork on the menu, but if you only have one or two meals, I'd focus on beef. A local specialty is burnt ends, which are the brisket trimmings. They should be carmelized and slightly fatty. At Bryant's, get fries. At OK Joes, get red beans. At JackStack, get BBQ beans or cheesy corn.

      Oh, and get directions. I have never felt a moment's concern about safety at any of these places, but surrounding neighborhoods can be a little sketchy. All the places mentioned on this thread should be very familiar to the folks at your hotel, so they should be able to give you directions. They may be able to or want to send you to some other hole in the wall BBQ place that is their particular favorite -- locals pride themselves on knowing the secret gem that the world hasn't heard about. Follow your instincts if they try to steer you elsewhere. It's kind of like going to NY for the first time and deciding whether or not you're going to see the Statue of Liberty. A case can be made either way.

      3 Replies
      1. re: heatherkay

        "All the other places -- I would say "joint" rather than "dump." I think they're all perfectly nice in a BBQ joint kind of way."

        No doubt. I would much prefer to eat BBQ at LC's or Bryant's than Jack Stack, based on atmosphere alone.

        1. re: Aaron Deacon

          All comments here are fair. As I like to note, I had a truly lousy experience at Bryant's. after wanting it to be my best Q experience ever. The pic below is what I was served, when I asked if I could have a plate of several different meats. Look dry? It was. And would you serve anyone, friend or foe, their food directly on an unclean plastic tray... when there are plates available? I been to dozens of BBQ places, and everyone else, everyone, was friendly and civil. Not Bryant's. Bad day, I guess. Now, look at the happy crew over at LCs. That was some fun bbq in a real dump... er... joint.

          1. re: woodburner

            ok, alright, i used the wrong term....i'll go ahead and retract my "dump" statement. agreed that "joint" is probably a better way to describe LC's.