THE BBQ FIELD GUIDE
  • Oct 24, 2016
  • 0 comments
  • by Charlie Hustle
 

 

In the wake of Charlie Hustle releasing their best-smelling collection of all time, the Barbecue Collection, I've decided to make sense of all of your options at hand. In a city that breathes hickory smoke, the common consumer faces "Choice Overload." Without further ado, I give you the Barbecue Field Guide. A guide intended to simplify the barbecue buying experience and bring the finest flavors this city has to offer directly to your mouth as quickly as possible. Enjoy!

Editor's Note: The human palette is akin to a snowflake, no two are exactly alike.  

JOE'S KC

BREAKDOWN

Who said that gas station food couldn't be world class?  Anyone on the Joe’s KC staff, or any resident of Kansas City for that matter, would tell you that some of the best BBQ around started at a gas station.  However, you don’t have to take it from them - just ask Anthony Bourdain, who named Joe’s in his list of “13 Places To Eat Before You Die”!  There’s usually a pretty steep line (particularly at the original location) but don’t let that scare you, because it is more than worth the wait.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

Ribs and One Meat Dinner: The ribs are the best in the city (which means the best on the planet), and this meal is perfect.  You get three ribs, a choice of meat (I’d recommend pulled pork), a side, and Texas toast.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Z-Man: If the Ribs and One Meat Dinner is 1a then consider the Z-Man an ever so close 1b.  More affordable and less bulky than the Rib Dinner this is one of the most delectable sandwiches (brisket, onion rings, smoked provolone) that will ever tickle your taste buds. (Pro Tip - if you like Texas toast ask for the sandwich to be put on it in place of the bun)

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 10
Top notch across the board
SAUCE: 6
Sweet and Molassesy, best for dipping fries
SIDES: 9
The fries are the best in the business

 

ARTHUR BRYANT'S

BREAKDOWN

In 1946, by the time Arthur Bryant took over the restaurant that would eventually bear his name, the operation had already been around since 1908.  Started by “the father of Kansas City barbecue”, Henry Perry, Arthur Bryant’s would be passed down to Arthur’s brother, Charlie, before it was finally taken over by Arthur and given its now iconic name.  Formerly blocks away from Municipal Stadium, the restaurant has played host to a variety of visiting athletes and celebs (Danny Glover!) through the decades and has even served multiple sitting U.S. presidents.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

A sandwich combo with two types of meat is the first rate order at AB’s.  You can’t go wrong with any meat, but a sliced pork and beef combo with fries will do the trick. (Pro Tip - Get whatever you order to go. It's literally double the food for the same price, and they won't kick you out for unfurling it in house.)

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Stick with the combo but try any of the other meat options, they are all delish.

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 9
Even playing field. They do everything well.
SAUCE: 6
If you like vinegar based sauces then you’ll love AB’s Original.  They are unique and tasty, but the Rich & Spicy is the Palme d’Or.
SIDES: 6
Stick to their home cut style fries

 

JACK STACK

BREAKDOWN

If you’re looking to enjoy world-class barbecue in style, look no further than Jack Stack.  Jack Fiorella was immersed in BBQ from birth, growing up in his family’s Smoke Stack Barbecue restaurants.  However, in the 1980’s he decided to break with tradition and use Smoke Stack Barbecue’s Martin City location to offer amenities not often found in BBQ joints; comfort, attentive service, grilled food options and a full-service bar.  Once Jack changed the location’s name to Jack Stack the transformation was complete, and the restaurant now boasts five locations in the KC metro.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

The Kansas City Combo: Lots of options for meats and you can do two or three.  Their meats are sensational across the board so you really can’t go wrong.  It comes with two sides - the cheesy corn bake being one of them is nonnegotiable.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Beef Ribs: Most BBQ joints only roll out pork ribs, so if you’re going to try a beef rib Jack Stack is the place to do it. Come hungry, cows ribs are bigger than pigs in case you were wondering.

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 9.5
BBQ with a dash of class. The beef ribs take it over the top.
SAUCE: 5
Original is the perfect food lubricant. 
SIDES: 10
The cheesy corn bake and beans rival any side dish in the city.

 

GATES

BREAKDOWN

One of only two Kansas City barbecue spots that can trace their roots directly to Henry Perry (“the father of Kansas City barbecue”), Gates is more than a restaurant, it’s a tradition.  The man in a tuxedo and top hat can be found throughout KC, on bottles, billboards, and murals.  Note to newcomers, when you’re greeted with the signature, “How may I help you!?”, don’t sweat, just a grab a tray, remain poised, and order when you’re ready.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

Beef on Bun (on bread... please): The beef on bun is a classic Gates order.  Clocking in at a cool $6.99 you get a beef sandy with a healthy portion of fries.  Substitute bread over the bun and it takes it to another level.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Sunday Chicken Special: When you’re looking for something tasty and affordable to munch on while you watch the Chiefs, come Sunday, look no further than the Gates on the corner of Linwood and Main.  For $6.95 you score a half-chicken and two sides.  This deal so economical you can’t afford not to indulge. (Pro Tip - No to-go ramekins, be prepared to shell out if you're looking to dine out.)

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 7.5
Stick with the Beef, but Burnt Ends on a hoagie is a good alternate.
SAUCE: 10
The best in the city.  Mild, Original, Spicy, it doesn’t matter they’re all amazing
SIDES: 6
Fat fries, slightly under-seasoned, but a perfect vessel for sauce consumption.

 

 

Q39

BREAKDOWN

It’s not easy to be the new kid on the block in Kansas City’s competitive barbecue scene, but for those looking to try in the future, you may want to take notes from Q39.  Opening its doors to the public in 2014, Q39 has taken KC by storm, making believers of many in BBQ’s old guard and even leading some to label it the best barbecue in town!

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

Burnt End Burger: A burger topped with sliced burnt ends, pickled slaw, and housemade sauce this mountain of flavor is almost too good to be true.  It’s not a conventional KC BBQ item, but my God is it delicious.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

The Judges Plate: A sample of all their finest smoked meats includes, two ribs, brisket, pulled pork (which is delightful), chicken, and sausage. This is a more traditional take, and it does not disappoint. (Pro Tip - Pay the extra money. I'm not kidding, pay it! You need all of this in your life.)

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 10
I mean even their freaking chicken wings are incredible!
SAUCE: 7
Spicy is on point. A sweet and sticky sauce
SIDES: 9
Baked Beans, Fries, Slaw, can’t go wrong with any of the three

 

WOODYARD

BREAKDOWN

Located in Merriam, KS, for decades Woodyard Bar-B-Que has been serving not only the community’s barbecue needs but also providing various types of wood for those looking to try and do what Woodyard does at home.  While everyone knows that this isn’t possible, we still appreciate Woodyard for doing so!  With a beautiful outdoor seating area under a canopy of trees, the ambiance has a rustic/campground type feel.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

The Rib Dinner (Babyback): If Joe’s KC makes the best rib on the planet Woodyard is a close second.  A tangy rub combined with several hours of smoky goodness make an excellent rib (no sauce needed).

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Burnt End Buster: A burnt end sandwich with slaw piled on top.

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 9
Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri, & Andrew Zimmern are all on board
SAUCE: 7
The perfect compliment to the smokey aroma
SIDES: 9
Do yourself a favor and try the burnt end chili

 

CHAR BAR

BREAKDOWN

Combining two of the city’s favorite things, good times and quality barbecue, Char Bar took over what was formerly the Beaumont Club and quickly won over the hearts of Kansas City.  When Char Bar says that they provide smoked meats & amusements, they mean it - while at Westport’s premier BBQ spot one can enjoy not only delicious food but a wide array of yard games on their incredible patio.

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

Burnt Heaven: Burnt ends, sausage, fried jalapeños, chipotle bbq mayo, and slaw makes one delicious monstrosity. My mouth is actively watering while typing.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Something with the Smoked Jackfruit, you won’t find another item comparable anywhere in the city.

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 8
Good meat combined with a creative menu
SAUCE: 7
Similar to Q39 - sweet and sticky
SIDES: 8
Burnt End Baked Beans...

 

PLOWBOYS

BREAKDOWN

What happens when you are a BBQ competition veteran and an award-winning contestant in multiple American Royal competitions?  Plowboys happens.  With an original location in Blue Springs, and a new location along the streetcar line in downtown Kansas City, what once was only available to BBQ aficionados is now readily accessible to the public at large, and we couldn’t be more grateful!

 

THE ULTIMATE MEAL

BBQ Nachos: It's as incredible as it sounds. House made tortilla chips, homemade cheese sauce, jalapeños, and a meat of your choice makes for one of the most enjoyable plates of nachos you’ll ever consume.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

Burnt Ends: Stop in for an order of Plowboys renowned KC classic. (Pro Tip - Mark your calendars for Wednesday and Friday if you live in the KC area because those are the only days they're available, or take the drive out to the original Blue Springs location and get them anytime.)

 

RATINGS

MEAT: 8
It's Championship Barbeque
SAUCE: 7
The meat barely needs it do to the quality rubs used
SIDES: 9
Every side is an indulgence. BBQ Fries recommended

 

If you want to be extra cool, you can wear the gear of your favorite joint by shopping our Barbecue Collection right HERE!