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Best Barbecue in Kansas City

Updated on February 16, 2014
picture by Arthur Bryants
picture by Arthur Bryants

Kansas City Barbecue

 Kansas City has a long history of barbecue and I hope to be able to give you some history and some recommendations for Kansas City Barbecue. Kansas City has over 100 barbecue restaurants. Some are stars, some are pretenders, and some are just flat out good.

Henry Perry was considered to be the father of Kansas City barbecue, he started cooking pit barbecue in the early 1900s. Kansas City barbecue also uses a number of different meats. While many barbecue types feature ribs and brisket, Kansas City features pulled pork, sausages, beef and pork ribs, chicken, turkey, and seafood. Sauces can range from sweet to spicy hot with molasses or brown sugar used as a base.

Top Kansas City Barbecue Restaurants

Arthur Bryant's

Charlie and Arthur Bryant were brothers who worked for Charles Perry's original restaurant. In 1940, Perry died, and Charlie Bryant took over the restaurant. Eventually, Arthur took over the business in 1946 and soon after the name was changed to Arthur Bryants.

Arthur Bryants was one of the best known barbecue restaurants in the country, and it has become a common place for visiting Presidents and dignitaries to eat.

I have eaten at the Arthur Bryants at the 18th and Brooklyn restaurant, and found it to be a very good place to eat barbecue. The décor is very simple. I wondered at the time if it had changed any since the 1940s. After you order, they serve up your food in simple paper trays. In the case of ribs, they are wrapped in foil and newspaper. I see that nowadays they wrap sandwiches in Kraft paper, or serve it on plates.

According to Wikipedia, Arthur Bryant died in 1982, in a bed that he kept at the restaurant. His family has sold the restaurant after his death, but the place continues . Other locations have opened and closed, The location at the Kansas City airport claims to serve authentic Bryant barbecue, but to be honest, it is barebecue in name only.


Fiorella's Jack Stack

They started as Smokestack Barbeque in the 1950s, when Flora and Russell Fiorella opened with a location on 71 Highway. They had a decent selections of five or six items on the menu. 

Their eldest son Jack left that business in the mid 70's to branch out, and he started Fiorella's Smoke Stack in Martin City(a south KC suburb). His wife Delores suggested to him that they were just another barbecue restaurant in Kansas City. He began thinking about things that could set them apart. They started advertising Gourmet Hickory Wood Cooking utilizing a brick oven. After a trip to Yugoslavia, they decided to add cooking seafood on a grill with hickory wood, along with poultry and steaks. Soon they had the most extensive menu in a Kansas City barbecue restaurant. Soon the Martin City location was overflowing with customers, so Jack decided to open in another location. That location was in Overland Park Kansas, and he decided to set himself apart from his siblings who operated Smoke Stack restaurants around Kansas City. The new restaurant was christened Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. Since then, they have opened a couple more locations. They have a restaurant called the Freight House, which is near Union Station, as well as a location in the upscale shopping district Country Club Plaza.

Besides the core restaurant business, they have opened a catering operation, as well as mail order barbecue meals.

LC's BBQ pit

LC's Kansas City Barbecue

In talking with people about Kansas City barbecue, there is a restaurant that always comes up in discussion, and while some say it is the best they have eaten, others say it is one of the best I have ever eaten. I guess what I am trying to get at, LC's Barbecue puts out some fine BBQ and I have never heard someone who said they disliked it.

I have only heard praise for the ribs, the burnt ends and other meats that they cook there. Give LC's a try, and it might become your favorite.

John McCain and Sarah Palin at Bryants

Man vs Food KC BBQ

Oklahoma Joes Tour

Oklahoma Joes

 Oklahoma Joe's is one of those puzzles. Why is one of the most popular barbecue places in KC named Oklahoma Joes? Why is one of KC's best bbq restaurants located in a gas station?

Who really knows? I guess the answer to one of those questions is that the concept for the food came from a competitive bbq team, and they tried opening first in Oklahoma, and then a location in KC. As far as I know, the Oklahoma restaurant is no more, but Oklahoma Joe's is still making great food in a gas station in Kansas City.

Many folks I talk to say this is the best BBQ they have ever eaten. Some still have allegiance to Bryant's or some other KC bbq, but allow that Joe's has some of the best they have had. At least the best they have eaten from a gas station!


Jack Stack


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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      As a fellow Kansas Citian, I can vouch for the delicious BBQ served at all these restaurants. I'm sooo glad you included Oklahoma Joe's on the list. When we're in Olathe, we can't resist their ribs, sandwiches, fries and onion rings. Thank you for sharing!

    • nycgrl profile image

      nycgrl 6 years ago from New York

      Ugh I so wish I could head over to Kansas City myself, I hear the bbq there is excellent! I love anything barbecue and NYC has a few decent places that I go to (check out my reviews: but it can't compare to these amazing places.

    • profile image

      Pink House BBQ 6 years ago

      Come on out and try some of my bbq. There are some post on face book. Located in Kearney missouri off interstate I35 exit 26 left on 92 highway two blocks and right on north country ave

    • profile image

      Blair Stover 6 years ago

      I love Oklahoma Joe's! BB's Lawnside BBQ is pretty good too. Then again, I think most BBQ from the Kansas City area is, so I might be biased. -Blair Stover

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      Awesome hub- makes me want to pack my bags and go there for lipsmacking barbecues. Well done!