One of Gladstone's favorite restaurants, the family-owned Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is known for its mouthwatering burnt ends, and hickory-smoked beef brisket served with fries, Texas toast, and coleslaw. Meaty, smoky and well-seasoned beans are a great side dish; the sweet corn nuggets or Battered Mushrooms served with ranch dip also get high marks. If you want to go another route, consider the sliced smoked Polish sausage, a rib plate, hickory-smoked chicken, or Smokehouse Special barbecue sandwich. Kids enjoy a menu just for them and parents will appreciate the $5 price tag. Whether they order a cheeseburger, a sliced meat sandwich or a BBQ Chicken Dinner, each meal includes a side dish, pickles and a small beverage. Additional locations operate in the area.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Smokehouse offers several options for two to three people; a slab of ribs or combos featuring multiple meats and three sides.
Lisa's expert tip: In addition to brick-and-mortar restaurants, Smokehouse Bar-B-Que offers online shipping. Devoted Smokehouse Club members also receive a national shipping catalog and in-store coupons, as well as special events information and announcements.
Located near Kansas City, Missouri's sports stadiums, L.C.'s is a no frills dive that operates inside a one-time gas station, with disposable tableware and limited tables. Customers order and pay at the counter, while getting a look at and whiff of the legendary smoker. Often crowded, LC's is a place where you should decide on your order quickly, after arriving. This is classic barbecue, from enormous sauce-doused burnt end sandwiches served on white bread to tender brisket with complex smoky flavor and crisp yet chewy burnt ends. Crisp-tender fries come in huge portions and there's cold, cheap beer in the refrigerator. Zesty sauce delivers sweetness and spice that isn't overly hot. Spicy fried green beans and baked beans are customer favorites too. Service can be uneven but devoted customers say the food is still worth a trip.
Recommended for Barbecue because: This is a great place to get tailgating or takeout food; just allow plenty of time to retrieve your order.
Lisa's expert tip: Don't let the price tags at L.C.'s BBQ Restaurant stop you. $13 buys a sandwich meal which delivers so much meat that it might be enough to feed several people – or hold over for lunch the next day.
Start with good barbecue. Add beer and live blues, for a one-of-a-kind Kansas City barbecue destination that has even received some love from the Food Network. Opened by blues lovers Lindsay and Jo Shannon, BB's showcases their combined music collection of more than 5,000 blues recordings amid bare-bones surroundings. A diner's delight, this place is known for their pork ribs and other succulent meats prepared on a 1950s smoker, as well as battered fries, baked beans. There are also numerous Louisiana favorites, including Dirty Red's Jambalaya, Smokey Jo's Gumbo or Louisiana Swampman Boudin Balls (deep-fried battered rice balls). Great service and large portions complement great blues music to create a real Kansas City landmark for 'que and entertainment.
Recommended for Barbecue because: No other barbecue restaurant in the area offers a steady stream of live blues alongside evening meals.
Lisa's expert tip: Check out B.B.'s savory Sundae. Served in a Mason jar, this unusual offering features smoky pit beans, creamy coleslaw and pulled pork. Pour it on your plate for an instant meal.
It doesn't get much better than Woodyard BBQ for classic old-school authenticity. Begun as a wood yard, the business has evolved into a no-frills, easy-going joint near two major highways that has appeared in Food Network's On the Road. Wood piles abound out back, where three large brick-encased smokers work their magic Monday through Saturday (everybody's got to rest sometime!). Customers have called their barbecued chicken the best in the metro. The ribs at Woodyard were voted Kansas City's best by local alternative weekly, The Pitch, and Food & Wine has called their chili some of America's best. Mouthwatering ribs, lip-smacking jumbo wings and the massive Merriam Mixer (eight meats including pulled pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, ham, and burnt ends) are several choices. Specialty sandwiches are served on ultra-thick bread. Savor your favorite meat alongside freshly prepared sides such as coleslaw, smoky and savory baked beans, or cheesy corn.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Woodyard Bar-B-Q has the best stash of barbecue wood with loads of apple, cherry, pecan, hickory and oak wood beneath near the parking lot.
Lisa's expert tip: Woodyard Bar-B-Que offers a daily $8.45 special. Try a smoked angus burger on Tuesday, half of a smoked chicken on Wednesday or the Ultimate Club Sandwich on Thursday – with smoked ham, turkey and bacon plus lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. And rib lovers should pick up their slabs early on Saturdays.
A crimson roof and sculpture of a dapper man in a top hat announce that you've arrived at Gates Bar-B-Q. Long lines are also common at this cafeteria-style restaurant (particularly on Saturday nights), where guest should be prepared to order almost immediately upon entering the restaurant. Founded by the Gates family in 1946, their hickory wood fire is a key ingredient. But Gates barbecue sauce is what really put this restaurant on the map, beginning in the 1940s. There are now two versions – the tangy classic version or a sweeter option. Customers give beef brisket, luscious French fries or onion rings, and beef on bun sandwiches high marks. Mutton is an unusual offering and this location offers chili as a specialty item, served with or without beans, or combined with cheese and fries. Purchase ham, pork, beef or turkey by the half-pound or pound; or order a boxed lunch for under $10.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Legendary barbecue sauce and more than half a century of restaurant experience create memorable dining.
Lisa's expert tip: Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q employees attend the Gates College of Bar-B-Que Knowledge (also called Rib Tech) while receiving on-the-job training.
Go for the barbecue and become steeped in Kansas City's barbecue history. An antique red and white awning, and barbecue smoke wafting through the neighborhood, mark Arthur Bryant's original location. President Harry Truman, Steven Spielberg, Wilt Chamberlain and President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalind are only a few celebrities who have dined here throughout more than 80 years of operation. Customers order at the counter amid no-frills, weathered surroundings, where service is sometimes uneven. Burnt ends, pulled pork sandwiches, whole slabs and beef brisket are especially popular. Be sure to try a barbecue side, including baked beans, coleslaw or potato salad. Nice smoke rings on the meat and tangy sauce with plenty of vinegar are hallmarks at this legendary joint (although there are now three sauces available). Gargantuan servings extend to the fries, which could serve two or more people; and long lines sometimes snake out the door.
Recommended for Barbecue because: New owners, Gary Berbiglia and Bill Raushelbach have maintained the restaurant's original flavor and traditions, while expanding the business since Arthur passed away.
Lisa's expert tip: The restaurant offers a separate take-out and pick-up menu. Twenty sandwiches include beef, ham, pulled pork, turkey or chicken, burnt, long and short ends. Or buy meat for a set per-pound price – no matter which variety you choose. Classic sides are also available in single, pint, quart or gallon servings.
Barbecue has been a family tradition for Danny Edwards since his father opened Jake's Barbecue during the Depression. Decades after the business relocated to Kansas City, Edwards opened Lil' Jakes, which had several locations and a name change before arriving at its current address. This fixture in Kansas City's industrial district offers no-frills surroundings with red checked tablecloths and serve-yourself beverages; an exceptionally friendly staff; and an owner who personally cuts the meat. Sweet potato fries, spicy jambalaya and brownies are other big plusses. Favorite fall-off-the-bone meat options include the tender pulled pork and brisket sandwich featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Danny Edwards sauce trends sweet with nice spice. If you like sweet (iced) tea you'll love the version at Danny Edwards. Serving only from 11-3 and closed on Sundays, the restaurant is often packed and parking can be challenging.
Recommended for Barbecue because: When a barbecue tradition has been in a family's blood for more than 80 years, you know it's something special.
Lisa's expert tip: Though plenty of customers rave about the Big D sandwich, you won't find it listed on their web site menu. But this popular 'special' is available daily, offering a tasty combo of generously sauced burnt ends, cheese and onion ring, served between slices of rye bread.
Led by national barbeque champion, Rob Magee, Q39 has become well-known for pushing the boundaries of barbecue during less than two years of operation. Competition BBQ Plates showcase Magee's three decades of expertise, from Certified Black Angus Beef Brisket to smoke and char-grilled chicken or House-Made Chipotle Sausage. Fresh rolls, apple coleslaw and a choice of potato salad or beans are standard issue with these hefty plates. Three varieties of ground brisket burgers are crafted from USDA-certified Black Angus beef, oak-wood grilled, and served on toasted buns. Smoke and fire also infuse Cobb or salmon salad and a Mexican chicken wrap. Wood-Fired Grilled Plates showcase steak, salmon and smoked fried chicken, accompanied by house-made sauce, fresh vegetables or Magee's singular white bean cassoulet. The restaurant's modern, yet rustic ambiance includes a large communal table, as well as smaller tables and a patio with urban views; or sip a craft cocktail at the bar.
Recommended for Barbecue because: In less than two years, this Westport barbecue joint has already developed a huge group of loyal fans.
Lisa's expert tip: Customers will appreciate the restaurant's gluten-free side plates, including house-cut fries, apple coleslaw and baked beans. Additional gluten-free options range from the Salmon Filet plate, to Wood-fired Grilled Salmon, Chicken Cobb Salad, and many of the Competition BBQ Plates.
Consistent quality for more than five decades and a diverse menu are two great reasons to visit Jack Stack Barbecue. Tasty and tender meats cooked over hickory wood include popular burnt ends and ribs. For something different, try their nationally-acclaimed Lamb Ribs, trout entrees or vegetable kabob. Sandwich lovers can choose from beef brisket, roasted ham, smoked turkey or pork and Polish Sausage, while specialty soups, available on set days, include hearty Wood-Fired Chicken & Sausage Gumbo or savory Burnt End Stew. Cheesy Corn Bake, Cajun-spiced barbecue shrimp appetizer, hearty Hickory Pit Beans and Mom's Carrot Cake also get kudos. So do the polite and knowledgeable servers. With 25-foot ceilings, antique brick, natural wood and rustic décor accents, the upscale Freight House location offers the added cache of operating in a historical Kansas City building near Union Station. Gluten-free options are also available, on request.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Under $7, Kids' Meals include pork rib dinners, fried chicken tenders, or grilled ham and cheese, plus a side and a drink.
Lisa's expert tip: Enjoy generous 7-ounce wine pours from an expansive menu with individual glasses starting at $6. There are numerous selections from California as well as an Oregon Pinot Noir; several Argentine Malbecs; Italian sparkling wine, and several white wine selections; and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
Anthony Bourdain has named this wildly popular barbecue destination inside an old gas station, 'One of Thirteen Places to Eat Before You Die.' National and regional publications have piled on more kudos and Joe's was Zagat Rated #1 Barbecue in Kansas City, 2004-2013. Previously called 'Oklahoma Joe's,' Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que serves contest-quality pulled pork, burnt ends, smoked chicken and much more. Composed of sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone, onion rings, and barbecue sauce served inside a Kaiser roll, the Z-Man sandwich has an enormous following. Joe's serves dynamite French fries too.. Barbecue champs many times over, owners, Jeff and Joy Stehney, have won big at the American Royal Barbecue, the Jack Daniel's World BBQ Championship and the World Brisket Open. Smoked chicken gumbo or classic red beans and rice are warm and satisfying accompaniments or choose from two slaw varieties. Eating at 'Joe's' is a one-of-a-kind experience. Additional locations in the area.
Recommended for Barbecue because: Consistency is key at this Kansas City, Kan. barbecue restaurant. You'll find the same great flavors each time you order a meal at Joe's.
Lisa's expert tip: Order your Z-Man sandwich and half slab or smoked chicken dinners to go, and escape the crowds. But don't forget that Joe's also sells beef brisket, and pulled pork, turkey, ham or sausage by the pound – enough mouthwatering meat to serve three adults.