Kansas City's Best Barbecue Restaurants Showcase Beloved Traditions

There's no shortage of barbecue restaurants in the Kansas City area. And there's no shortage of what items they will put on a grill or smoker, from USDA-certified beef, pulled pork or brisket, to Polish and house-made chipotle sausage, and even lamb ribs, mutton or trout. No barbecue meal would be complete without savory baked beans and creamy coleslaw. Kansas City barbecue enthusiasts also like to enjoy cheesy corn bakes as a barbecue accompaniment. More unusual finds at top local barbecue restaurants include gumbo, jambalaya and Louisiana boudin balls. Kansas City's best restaurants for 'cue operate in re-purposed gas stations, a renovated Freight House, and classic dives where seating is at a premium and lines often snake out the front door. You may even enjoy barbecue with a side of live music. Trying to find the metro's best barbecue? 10Best has you covered. We search the city and suburbs for the top places. Then we showcase popular restaurants and highlight eateries that users have ranked highly. Whether you prefer the old-school ambiance of urban barbecue eateries or prefer a suburban destination, we've got you covered. With so many choices, you're bound to find just the right spot for a taste of Kansas City's legendary barbecue history.



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...  Read More

East Side


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...  Read More

BB's Lawnside Barbecue
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray


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...  Read More

Woodyard Bar-B-Q
Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray


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...  Read More



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...  Read More

Arthur Bryant's
Photo courtesy of Arthur Bryant's


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,...  Read More



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...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Q39


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...  Read More

Martin City - Southside


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...  Read More

Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Photo courtesy of Bonjwing Lee


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...  Read More


Meet Lisa Waterman Gray

Lisa Waterman Gray moved to the Kansas City area 35 years ago and has written professionally for 20+ years. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, she's excited about the...  More About Lisa