Top 24 Barbecue Joints in Kansas City

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13. Burnt End BBQ

Opened: 2011

Pitmaster: Stephen “Smokey” Schwartz

Method: A secret wood combination; smoked to perfection

Competition Team: PB&J Smokin’ Old Men

Thanks to longtime pitmaster “Smokey” at the helm, this best-kept secret barbecue joint uses its signature bowls to elevate traditional ‘cue in a way that reimagines it without being pretentious. The burnt end bowl features signature melt-like-butter burnt ends on a bed of hickory pit beans, topped with sweet cornbread and garnished with crispy peppered onion straws. We’re sold. 11831 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 451-8888,

14. Brobecks Barbeque

Opened: 2007

Pitmaster: Doug and Dean Brobeck

Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

Competition Team: None

Owner Doug Brobeck hails from East Tennessee, which explains the restaurant’s Carolina-style barbecue with Kansas City flair. It’s all about the meat, not the sauce, but they don’t mind if you drizzle a bit on. Just be sure to savor the smoky flavor and dry-rub seasoning beforehand. The most popular item is the ham salad that’s said to be so good you’ve got to call and order it in advance. 4615 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, Kan., (913) 901-9700,

15. Plowboys Barbeque

Opened: 2013

Pitmaster: Todd Johns

Method: Missouri white oak; rotisserie, wood smokers with gas assist

Competition Team: Pork Pullin’ Plowboys

This past winner of 435 Magazine’s barbecue smackdown knows a thing or two about being the talk of the town, especially after owner Todd Johns was crowned American Royal Grand Champion in 2009. Now Plowboys makes everyone feel like a winner with thick slices of brisket, smoky pulled pork and signature barbecue nachos. Two area locations,

16. Woodyard Bar-B-Que

Opened: 1950s

Pitmaster: Mark O’Bryan

Method: A blend of oak, hickory and pecan; brick smoker

Competition Team: None

This family-owned KC treasure doesn’t have roots in the competition barbecue circuit. Instead, it began as one of the wood suppliers to ‘cue joints around town, practicing the things they learned on homemade smokers on the front patio. Don’t let its downhome looks fool ya; there’s succulent, smoked goodness inside. 3001 Merriam Lane, Kansas City, Kan., (913) 362-8000,


Woodyard BBQ Kansas City

17. Gates Bar-B-Q

Opened: 1946

Pitmaster: Staff trained at the Gates College of Bar-B-Que Knowledge

Method: Hickory; flamed, seared and slow smoked

Competition Team: None

Marked by its signature red roofs, “struttin’ man” logo and startling “Hi, may I help you?” greeting, Gates has been a notable stalwart in Kansas City since it first opened on 19th and Vine streets in 1946. It’s one of the few places that still offers mutton on the menu, and you just can’t leave without picking up a yammer pie. There’s plenty to choose from, just be sure to know what to order when you hear those magic words. Six area locations,


18. Hayward’s Pit BBQ

Opened: 1972

Pitmaster: Alex Thompson

Method: Hickory pit

Competition Team: None

After 45 years of being on College Boulevard and Antioch Road, the iconic barbecue joint moved to Lenexa. Though the new space — now owned by Eric Sweeney — is smaller, the taste remains, and fans still drop in to the lodge-style restaurant to catch the game and get a helping of hickory-smoked perfection. 12894 Santa Fe Trail Drive, Lenexa, Kan., (913) 808-3078,

19. Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ

Opened: 1980

Pitmaster: Danny Edwards

Method: Hickory; low and slow

Competition Team: None

Danny Edwards just screams barbecue joint, from its eclectic decor and distinctly smoky flavor to its red checkered tablecloths and pink pig mascot. The eatery’s owner grew up in a barbecue joint — his dad is ‘cue legend Jake Edwards — and he spent his years honing the art of the slow-cooked meats. The proof is in his “never trendy, just tasty” dishes like the beef point, rye and Swiss cheese Big D sandwich. 2900 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 283-0880,


Danny Edwards Boulevard Kansas City BBQ

20. Smokehouse Barbecue

Opened: 1990

Pitmaster: Smokehouse crew

Method: Hickory; low and slow

Competition Team: None

When Smokehouse first opened its doors, the goal was to provide Kansas City diners with the highest quality of barbecue and unparalleled service. More than two decades later, that standard is going strong, and the now famous ‘cue house is well-known for its delectable sides, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs and rich sauces. Three area locations,

21. Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements

Opened: 2014

Pitmaster: Mitch Benjamin and Jeremy Tawney

Method: Hickory; Southern Pride smoker

Competition Team: Meat Mitch

After the success of their other restaurant ventures, Mark Kelpe and James Westphal teamed up with legendary barbecue competitor Mitch Benjamin to bring a Southern-inspired take on the ‘cue that KC knows and loves. The menu offers something for all, from the smoked and pulled jackfruit that’s a dead ringer for pulled pork to the smoked brisket CBGB burger. Best of all is the amusements aspect, which features a dog-friendly beer garden, fire pit, bocce ball and more. 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 389-8600,


Char Bar Kansas City BBQ

22. Jon Russell’s Kansas City Barbeque

Opened: 2012

Pitmaster: Luther Salisbury

Method: Hickory and apple woods; Old Hickory rotisserie smoker

Competition Team: Jon Russell’s BBQ

Fork-tender and delectable describe the smoked offerings found at competition barbecue chefs Jon Niederbremer and Russell Muehlberger’s restaurant. It’s not just the meats that get a new twist, but also the sauces, which come in non-traditional yet tasty flavors like pineapple poblano, cherry chipotle, smokin’ ghost and blueberry habanero. Grab a Blue Ribbon Combo Platter and get to sampling! Note: May add mention of burrito. Waiting for more info. 12094 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan., (913) 213-6944,

23. Zarda Bar-B-Q

Opened: 1976

Pitmaster: Harry Brummell

Method: Ozark hickory; slow-smoked in a Southern Pride smoker

Competition Team: Zarda BBQ

Zarda might be known for its world-famous beans, but it definitely has more to offer. Family recipes are still used to make top-notch smoked meats like chicken, turkey and ribs and rich sides like the vinegar-and-oil coleslaw. If you have the chance to order from the “off-the-menu” Limited Reserve, do so. The Carolina pulled pork and burnt end sandwiches are to die for. Two area locations,

Zarda BBQ Kansas City

24. Snead’s Bar-B-Q

Opened: 1956

Pitmaster: Matt Gfeller

Method: Hickory; brick pit-smoked

Competition Team: None

At this historic landmark in the heart of Belton, burnt ends are known as brownies, and it’s not just the name that sets them apart from the rest. The burnt ends are smoked to perfection and feature the right amount of char. Original owner Bill Snead had a reputation for quality traditional barbecue, and 60 years later that standard is still upheld. Taste it and see. 1001 E. 171st St., Belton, Mo., (816) 331-7979,


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