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Smokin’ hot: Aficionados’ Kansas City barbecue bucket list

Photographer: David Eulitt, The Kansas City Star Model: Emilia Vonn Makeup artist: Katty Delux Photo assistants: Mary Schulte and Jennifer Hack Location: Woodyard Bar-B-Que

Photographer: David Eulitt, The Kansas City Star Model: Emilia Vonn Makeup artist: Katty Delux Photo assistants: Mary Schulte and Jennifer Hack Location: Woodyard Bar-B-Que

Photographer: David Eulitt, The Kansas City Star Model: Emilia Vonn Makeup artist: Katty Delux Photo assistants: Mary Schulte and Jennifer Hack Location: Woodyard Bar-B-Que

About this barbecue bucket list

This mouthwatering list of Kansas City barbecue was brought to you with the help of a hungry team of local ’cue enthusiasts.

In reporting this story, we gleaned tips from conversations with local chefs, bartenders, bloggers, barbecue competitors, barbecue judges and food fanatics, then put those tips to the test.

A few of our experts: Port Fonda bar manager Caitlin Corcoran, who has been known to organize barbecue-tasting bike rides. Nick LaBruzzo, coordinator for AMC Theaters’ food and beverage department, who hunts for under-the-radar ’cue with a group of friends that call themselves “BroBQ.” Chef Peter Castillo of Eat Me Gourmet is a purist who insisted we check out the ribs at Jon Russell’s in Overland Park and the apple slaw at Q39, a new restaurant on 39th Street.

Chris Rhoades, an insurance consultant who has judged the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, gushed to us about LC’s, Jack Stack, Gates, Plowboys BBQ, BB’s Lawnside, Oklahoma Joe’s and more. But like a lot of people we spoke with, he couldn’t pick a favorite.

“I love it all,” Rhoades says.

With more than 100 places to eat barbecue in Kansas City, we couldn’t visit them all. Know of a great place we missed? Email us at info@inkkc.com or tweet us @inkkcmag.

Find the 'cue near you

Ink

In honor of National Barbecue Month, we set out to find Kansas City’s best ’cue.

Armed with insider tips from local barbecue lovers, we made pilgrimages to the great institutions — Arthur Bryant’s, Gates, Jack Stack — and scoped out newcomers such as Jon Russell’s Kansas City Barbeque in Overland Park and Plowboys BBQ in Blue Springs.

We watched slabs smoke in the hickory-fired pit at LC’s and heard the thwack of rib tips chopped to order at Arthur Bryant’s. We inhaled the sweet scent of smoldering Missouri white oak while waiting in a long line at Oklahoma Joe’s for a portobello Z-Man sandwich, and chilled out at Q39’s bar with an ice-cold IPA and a plate of what the bold new barbecue restaurant calls “the best wings on the planet.”

We discovered barbecue orders we never knew existed — BBQ Sundaes, Hillbilly Bowls, burnt ends burritos and a monstrosity of a sandwich called the Big Pig — and convinced a few pitmasters to spill top-secret techniques and sauce ingredients.

Sometimes the scenery was as good as the food. Imagine eating a smoky bowl of burnt ends chili on the tree-lined patio at Woodyard Bar-B-Que. Devouring the messy burnt ends sandwich next to the railroad tracks at Danny Edwards. Tearing into white bread-wrapped ribs at the Quick’s Bar-B-Q counter.

Between the ribs and burnt ends and pulled pork, there were baked beans, golden slabs of cornbread, and cups of coleslaw and cheesy corn. Then there was the sauce: traditional sweet and smoky, tangy tomato-based, mustard, chipotle-cilantro, and even blueberry-habanero.

Confession: Many napkins were harmed (OK, destroyed) in the making of this issue.

The hunt for Kansas City’s best ’cue taught us that every barbecue joint — whether it’s a hole in the wall or an internationally known establishment — has its own flavor, and all of those flavors combined make Kansas City the barbecue capital of the world.

Follow the links to the best of our quest. Consider it a Kansas City barbecue bucket list to savor all summer long.

Hillbilly Bowl at The Rub Bar-B-Que

Burnt ends sandwich at Gates Bar-B-Q

Smoked chicken at Q39

Barbecue Sundae at BB’s Lawnside BBQ

Beef sandwich with fries at Arthur Bryant’s

Z-Man Sandwich at Oklahoma Joe’s

The Jon Russell sandwich at Jon Russell’s

Burnt ends chili at Woodyard Bar-B-Que

Pulled pork nachos at Plowboys BBQ

Burnt ends at LC’s Bar-B-Q

The Big D Sandwich at Danny Edwards Blvd. BBQ

Pulled pork sandwich at Brobeck’s Barbeque

Ribs at Jack Stack Barbecue

The Triple D Plate at Smokin’ Guns BBQ

Ribs at Quick’s Bar-B-Q

Contact Sarah Gish via email at sgish@kcstar.com or tweet @sarah_gish.

Comments

  1. 2 months ago

    Beemers in Lawrence, Smokin Joes in Olathe.

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