Our October issue featured the top 10 barbecue restaurants in Kansas City, a list we compiled by visiting more than 50 pits around the city over the last year. Any place that we included in our top 10 was visited at least twice.
As you might expect, the list got people talking. Seemingly few people found fault with our top-ranked spot, pitmaster Tyler Harp’s Saturdays-only pop-up at Crane Brewing in Raytown. Our decision to rank Joe’s at number nine was also popular.
However, the inclusion of Gates, Arthur Bryant’s and Jack Stack drew some heat. Among the most frequent complaints were the omission of LC’s Bar-B-Q on Blue Parkway and Slap’s of Strawberry Hill, both visited multiple times before being cut from the top 10. Other complaints were lack of visits to Summit Hickory Pit in Lee’s Summit and A Little BBQ Joint in Independence.
Here’s what readers had to say:
Honestly, Harp and Q39 are the list. KC is famous for BBQ because it used be innovative. Our society has changed as well as its taste buds. The BBQ culture in KC, however, has not evolved at all — until recently that is. Harp is evolving past what KC BBQ was into a whole new form of Kansas City BBQ. Q39 has been pushing the edge since the beginning. —Nick Stricker
I’ve been to Big T’s! It was a great experience — not in the best part of town (a car chase whizzed by mid-meal), teeny shack, completely packed and an AC unit that was barely keeping up in the July heat. The staff behind the bar were super fast and on top of stuff and also joked with the people in line, talking smack about one guy’s choice of football jersey and joking around with me about my choice to grab a beer instead of a soda. It was like a party. The fried okra was amazeballs. —Kristen Runberg
Amen. This is correct. And I love how they did the list and all the history in there, etc. Very cool. Harp deserves it. —Jason Reeser
While I think I’d reshuffle some of these (and yes, I’ve had every one of their fares), I can get behind this top 10 with ONE glaring exception: McGonigle’s BBQ should be on this. Truly underappreciated! —Johnn Beuscher
Anyone who rates Arthur Bryant’s high on a list makes me question their judgement! They missed Slaps and LC’s, which is head and shoulders above Gates. Joe’s KC BBQ should be much higher on the list. —Mark Dowdy
This is an honest list made by actually eating at all these places! Good job. Comments saying you missed the mark (I can’t believe you left out blah, blah, blah) are inevitable in this town. —Marty Lee
It’s nice to see someone not fall head over heels about Joe’s. Not that it’s not good, but we have so many other equally good ones that you don’t have to stand in line for and can enjoy a good meal and conversation without feeling you have to rush so others can sit down. —Ken Herdrick
Picking the top BBQ places in KC is a sure way to stir up a hornet’s nest. I admire your bravery. Also, thanks for putting this out because I had never heard of three of the places. Now I need to try them. I’m especially intrigued by Big T’s. —Dave Roeder
We went to Porky’s Blazin BBQ for lunch today. So good! And take the back way there down Adam’s Dairy to Colbern. Gorgeous drive. I bet it’s even better when the leaves change. —Jeannette Petersen
This list is nonsense. LC’s BBQ is my favorite of all time. I’ve been to some of those places, and LC’s beats them hands down. Their burnt ends are the things that artery-plugged dreams are made of. One location — in a crappy part of KCMO. Epic to say the least. —Tom Weatherford
It’s nice to see some new names on a list like this. It makes me think there was actual, real research done. It gets old seeing the same old names regurgitated on other lists. And … three I haven’t heard of, four I haven’t been to. —John Nesselrode