When you think of barbecue, Kansas City is definitely one of the top cities that comes to mind. When we were planning our big US road trip, we wanted to integrate barbecue into the trip as much as possible. Originally we had the trip carving along the south through Texas but when we flipped it to go counter-clockwise instead, we instead got to treat ourselves to Kansas City!
Kyle did most of the planning for this one and picked out 5-6 of the best spots in Kansas City for us to try. To make sure that we could complete the day-long challenge of trying that many different restaurants, we made a plan to split just the best seller or most well known food at each location and not force ourselves to finish anything we didn’t need to.. (aka, chips, bread, sides, etc.) This day turned out PEFFECT so I highly recommend that you recreate it for yourself.
Stop 1: Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q
We planned most of our trip out based on where the stops were located so this just happened to be first because it was located in the vicinity of Arthur Bryant’s. Gates and Sons is know for their burnt ends but we treated ourselves to “The Nooner” lunch special which is a sandwich with burnt ends and beef, smothered in barbeque sauce and a side of fries.
Glad we were able to split it because we didn’t want to fill up on all those carbs right on stop #1! The sandwich hit the spot but little did we know that it’d be quickly overshadowed by the next few stops!
ProTip: Grab a couple rental scooters to get to and from Bryant’s and leave your car up at Gates to add some fun to the adventure!
Stop 2: Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque
Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque is easily one of the most recognizable if not THE most recognizable BBQ joint in Kansas City. You walk in and immediately get that infamous feeling when you see all the photos on the wall of celebrities and past presidents who have ate there.
Arthur Bryant’s is known for their ribs and for GOOD reason. We split a half rack of ribs and I can easily say they were the best ribs I’ve ever tried. We both enjoyed all of their sauce options as well which is pretty rare for me! I had a hard time deciding which I liked the best. The vibe of all the workers also MADE the experience for us. They were so chatty and friendly that you immediately felt at home there.
Stop 3: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Stop three brought us to the entire opposite side of the city. We tried to stop at a brewery to break up the food but didn’t have luck with anything being open. Driving around gave us enough of a break to free up some space for the WONDERFUL sandwich we ordered at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.
Joe’s is known for the Z-Man sandwich and you better believe we ordered it! I also had several friends recommend it on social media when they saw the day we had planned. The Z-man description reads as follows: “Slow-smoked beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, topped with two crispy onion rings, on a toasted Kaiser roll.” Ohhh boy was that good. I’d go back and order that regularly! Not sure if it was the brisket, the cheese, the onion rings or the sauce but it hit the spot.
Stop 4: Q39
Q39 isn’t quite as old or notorious as some of the other BBQ joints but they are well worth the stop. Located in a nice restaurant style setting, you wouldn’t expect to get food that tastes as GOOD as it does. We were told by the guys at Arthur Bryant’s that they had the best chicken wings around so we had to order them.
Let me just tell you that I KNOW good chicken and those brought me to happy tears. They are listed on the menu as “Best Chicken Wings on the Planet” and I 100% support that claim. WOW. Just wow. The crispy skin, the sauce, the pull off the bone, all of it. 10/10 recommend.
Stop 5: Charbar
We had all the intentions to just fill in whatever we felt we were missing by the time we got to Charbar but we decided to just get beer! No shame. We needed a food break and the timing was right for a nice cold one. Their food looks amazing in the photos so you probably can’t go wrong if you decide to keep it in your plans for the day!
ProTip: If you go on a nice day, grab a seat outside and enjoy their beer garden area! This place would be a fun place to go out.
Stop 6: Jack Stack Barbecue
We took a nice long break before we got to stop 6 and it wasn’t even on our original hit list but we got a special recommendation from a friend that we needed to try the cheesy corn from Jack Stack. So after wandering the city for a bit and having a wine at a dimly lit jazz bar, we ordered a couple things to-go from Jack Stack to bring back to our camper for late dinner.
You can tell that the cheesy corn is a popular one because the sizes of dish options are party size! We also realized we hadn’t had any pulled pork at all throughout the day and that is my personal favorite barbecue meat, so we went crazy and ordered a pulled pork mac-n-cheese as well! Nothing better than pigging out one last time before bed. Was not disappointed.
Honorable Mention: Slap’s BBQ
In our random chats with locals, Slap’s BBQ was mentioned and we feel that we maybe missed out on a good one. Slap’s BBQ is right up there with the other BBQ competition champions throughout town. They are one of the only restaurants that are still actively competing in the competitions every year so I’d imagine that what they got is REAL good. They completely sell out every day so make sure to get there nice and early!
Dear Kansas City, you won over our hearts and stomachs. I have not felt that fat-and-happy in a long time! And as New Englanders, its so nice to go to a place and experience that Midwest hospitality and kindness that you always hear about. Nothing but good memories that day.
If you find yourself doing a BBQ tour throughout Kansas City, I’d love to hear about it! Send me a message and let me know which ones you liked the best! Need help planning a tour through the cities of the Midwest but don’t know where to start, check out InMotion Adventures to see what I can do for you! Until next time…