A combination plate of burnt ends, ribs and brisket, with a side of hushpuppies at Slap’s BBQ at 553 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan. David Eulitt | deulitt@kcstar.com

See who made Food & Wine’s ‘best’ barbecue list in every state for Kansas, Missouri

Slap’s BBQ’s burnt ends. Slap's BBQ |
Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe shares a sampler platter at Slap’s BBQ in Kansas City, Kan. Jill Wendholt Silva | jsilva@kcstar.com

Food & Wine magazine says good barbecue was once hard to find, except for a few select areas that had an abundance. But now a decent piece of brisket or a memorable pork sandwich can be had in most states.

So in its new “The Best BBQ in Every State” list, which published Tuesday, the magazine focuses solely on the all-stars.

“Good meat, good smoke. Sauce —if any — is an enhancement, not a flood in which to drown inadequacies. No too-clever-by-half litany of sides for distraction, no expensive design jobs, a minimum of carefully laid bric-a-brac, no purposefully distressed walls — really, you don’t need walls at all. That’s barbecue. That’s barbecue at its most thrilling, anyway,” the magazine said.

For Kansas, its pick is Slap’s BBQ in Kansas City, Kan.

“Forever in the shadow of a certain town of the same name, the Kansas side of Kansas City isn’t much to look at — for the longest time, the downtown felt like the set of one of those post-apocalyptic movies, while some neighborhoods adopted an overgrown, almost rural quality.

“When it comes to barbecue, however, this city is far from asleep, having made contributions aplenty throughout the years, and certainly more recently.

“Back in the 1990’s, there was this little joint that began operating out of a gas station, roughly ten blocks west of the Missouri line. That little joint — now called Joe’s Kansas City — went on to become one of the most popular destinations in the region for Kansas City-style barbecue.

“Much more recently, brothers Mike and Joe Pearce once more pulled focus over to the Kansas side of the proverbial tracks with their no-frills Slap’s BBQ, up in the historic KCK neighborhood of Strawberry Hill.

“Real burnt ends, smoked links from the old-school sausage maker down the street, very good ribs — even after expanding capabilities, you can’t be sure they won’t sell out. (It pays to go on the early side).”

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Food & Wine also recommended Jones Bar-B-Q by sisters Deborah and Mary Jones Mosely, professional pitmasters for roughly 30 years. It said to order their rib tips, smoked turkey and sausage links.

For Missouri, its pick was Big Baby Q and Smokehouse in Maryland Heights.

“The meaty St. Louis spare rib is a barbecue staple, but back in the day, St. Louis wasn’t what you’d have called a barbecue capital; Kansas City’s the one that saw most of the action, in these parts.

“That’s over now — after a last decade or so of considerable growth, there is now much to talk about, but it seems only fitting that you start off with a big old rack of ribs. Choosing the best is difficult, but start at Big Baby Q and Smokehouse, out in Maryland Heights. Here, Ben Welch, in tandem with his artist dad, smokes a great St. Louis-style rib, along with some of the better brisket in town.”

Food & Wine also mentions other St. Louis barbecues such as Smoki O’s and The Wood Shack.

“And no, nobody’s forgetting about Kansas City, where you should cancel all your other plans, go directly to LC’s Bar-B-Q, and order the burnt ends. Kansas City made them famous — well, Calvin Trillin did the heavy lifting for them — and LC’s has some of the best in town.”

See who made Food & Wine’s ‘best’ barbecue list in every state for Kansas, Missouri