A Smokin' BBQ Playground

Five things you should know about Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements

Sabrina Staires

1. Starting the Fire

For their fourth venture, the masterminds behind McCoy’s Public House, The Foundry, and Beer Kitchen — Mark Kelpe and James Westphal — teamed up with Mitch Benjamin of the award-winning competition barbecue team Meat Mitch. Their creation, Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements, is a southern-inspired smokehouse that combines craft beers, Kansas City barbecue, Dixie cuisine and good times. Housed in 7,000 square feet of what used to be the beloved The Beaumont Club in Westport, Char Bar aims to create a new kind of playground where carnivores, herbivores and locavores alike (referred to as “Charbarians”) can convene.

2. Set Ablaze

A great place to grab a drink and catch up with old friends and make a few new ones, Char Bar’s feel is as laid back as the 1950s mural depicting a suburban barbecue that graces one wall. “Charred” is the eatery’s motif, with the smoky influence wafting into everything from the bar’s palette of gray, charcoal black and red, to the bar area’s gas nozzle light fixtures with flickering flame bulbs. Some of its tables are repurposed from pine taken from razed bowling alley lanes, whereas others are made from charred ash. Even the entrance, made of cypress board, has been charred to perfection by the Japanese technique known as shou-sugi-ban.

3. Queue Up The ‘Cue

Meats and other menu items are charred, cooked and smoked to barbecue bliss over a hickory-pecan blend, using two giant Southern Pride smokers. The menu at this charred haven is made up of snacks, salads, sandwiches, sides, infused teas and scratch desserts. Southern dishes such as fried green tomatoes, lobster and grits, and the Sweet Caroline — a nod to Carolina-style barbecue — make an appearance on the menu, alongside Kansas City staples like pulled pork on a bun and ribs. Novel menu items include the Burnt Heaven, a smolderingly spicy burnt ends and smoked sausage sandwich topped with fried jalapeños, chipotle barbecue mayo and creamy slaw. The Naked Burger, an irresistibly juicy wood-grilled chuck tenderloin and beef short rib blend, is dressed in Meat Mitch’s gluten-free and hi-fructose-free WHOMP! Naked BBQ Sauce. Even vegetarians are catered to at this meat-centric spot, albeit, with a dash of humor—vegetarian dishes are marked on the menu with a skull and crossbones.

burnt heaven


4. Amuse Your Bouche With Spirits

The bar serves up a rotating list of American wines, beers, bourbons and  signature cocktails that incorporate classic American liquors like whiskey and bourbon. Ricochet is a Char Bar fave, with its mélange of Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey, fresh-juiced pineapple, squeezed lemon and a garnish of mint, but the showstopper is Smoking Gun. This straight-shooting drink with a nice char consists of High West Campfire Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Campari, burnt-simple syrup, orange and Angostura bitters over a cherry wood-smoked ice ball. The drink is served in a snifter glass and topped with a coaster. Remove the coaster for a dramatic, billowing smoke effect.

5. A Hoppy Place

Although there are plenty of amusements already available, the greatest amusement will be unveiled in the spring, when Char Bar will roll out the “largest beer garden in the Midwest.”  Spanning 10,000 square feet of what was Westport Beach Club, the beer garden will be home to two fire pits, adult tire swings, a patio bar, picnic tables, lawn croquet and a bocce ball court for Charbarians to convene.


Check out Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements at 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo. For more information, visit charbarkc.com.