Joes Kansas City Barbecue, (original location) Kansas City KS

Image from Google

Joes Kansas City Barbecue, Formally known as Oklahoma Joes is a Kansas institution. You can’t talk about the best BBQ in Kansas City without mentioning Joes. It has been voted one of the top barbecue restaurants in the county, and Joes Z-man sandwich is on many peoples must try list. Check the link to see some of their accolades, https://www.joeskc.com/pages/in-the-news

Like any good Barbecue restaurant there is always a line a Joes. The line moves fast but be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes in line. We arrived right when the opened on a Saturday morning and that meant for the first time I was going to be able to try Joes burnt ends. Orders of burnt ends are limited so don’t be surprised if you get there later in the day and they are sold out.

I got the burnt ends with a side of fries, it comes with a slice of bread and a few pickles as well. It has been said many times Joes has the best fries in Kansas City and I would agree. They season them with their barbecue rub and they are delicious. The burnt ends were also spectacular. They were moist, tender, with a good bark and they melted in your mouth. Joes bbq sauce pairs perfectly with their spice rub. It is one of my favorite barbecue sauces I have had at a restaurant. I do prefer the burnt ends over their sliced brisket.

To round out the meal we ordered a half slab ribs with red beans and rice and a chicken Z-man with corn. Joes ribs are among my favorites. They cook them perfectly, their rub flavor pops on the ribs and if you want to add a little sauce it takes them to another level. I always order ribs at Joes. The chicken Z-man was good, but not as good as the rest of the meal. The fries are definitely the best side but the red beans and rice, and the corn are both very good.

I have been to Joes other location and the original gas station spot is hands down the best. The atmosphere is unmatched, and the food always seems to be a touch better than at the other places. It is easy to see why many consider Joes the best in Kansas City. For me it is definitely in the top 5 of places I have tried. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to get out this year and has a meal with a loved one. Check out Joes Kansas City barbecue website: https://www.joeskc.com

Harp Barbecue, Raytown Missouri

Is Texas Barbecue taking over in Kansas City? To answer that question there is one place to start, Harp Barbecue. Harp Barbecue serves out of a back room inside Crane Brewing Company in Raytown Missouri, about 20 minutes outside of downtown Kansas City. Head pit master Tyler Harp grew up in the KC area, but his travels influence his barbecue just as much as his Kansas City roots. Harp Barbecue was recently voted Kansas City’s best barbecue by kansascitymag.com that included the typical KC heavy hitters like Joes, Gates, Arthur Bryants, Q39, and Fiorellas Jack Stack. Ranking number one on a list that includes those names is quite the accomplishment.

Grab a beer up front and head on back to join the line

Harp Barbecue typically only serves their full barbecue menu on Saturdays starting at 11, and offer a taco night on Fridays that starts at 5. This particular weekend however they were serving the full barbecue menu on Friday as well. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram for menu updates.

We joined the line about 5:30 and made it to the front to order in about 20 minutes. While we were there the line stayed pretty consistant in length, so I would say be prepared to wait about 20 minutes to order. With this being our first time we wanted to try a variety of items. We ordered sliced brisket, burnt ends, turkey, half slab of ribs, cheesy corn, beans, and banana pudding. We were sharing ok people lol.

Lets get the sides and dessert out of the way first. The cheesy corn was good, but nothing special. The beans were one of my favorite beans I have had. They were flavorful, with a bit of spice. They had a Texas chili flavor to them, that paired well with BBQ. I will definitely be getting those again.The banana pudding was packed with flavor. It had a pumpkin pie spice, and maybe almond flavor. I enjoyed it, the wife was disappointed there were no banana chunks or wafer in it.

Now for the meats. The Texas influence is all over the flavor profile. The ribs had great flavor, and were meaty, but they needed a little more time in the smoker. They were a little tough. I think about 30 more minutes in the smoker would have done the trick. The brisket was what you would expect from a top pit master, smokey, great beef flavor with good salt and pepper bark, and very tender. I can see why people in Kansas City are loving this brisket. The burnt ends were packed with moisture, with that same bark. They can would up to any KC burnt end I have had. When ordering the cashier mentioned the turkey was the best thing on their menu, and honestly it was right up there with the best on the tray. It had that Texas flavor, very moist, and paired excellent with the tangy sauce Harp offers. Usually turkey is so so but if you go make sure you try it, it is worth a spot on your tray.

The line

Overall the experience at Harp was outstanding. It felt similar to the places I have been in Texas. The atmosphere in Harps serving area, the food, even the line adds to the experience. It is unique to the Kansas City area as far as I know. So is Texas style barbecue taking over KC? I would say not entirely, but Harp Barbecue will be on the scene for a long time to come. They have worked hard to carve out their place in the Kansas City barbecue scene, and have developed quite a following. I can see why many people are ranking Harp Barbecue as one of the best around, it truly is a special place in the Kansas City area. I encourage everyone to plan a visit on a Saturday afternoon. I would like to thank everyone at Harp Barbecue for a memorable evening. Tyler and the team at Harp have created something special in Raytown. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram. I will leave a link to their website as well. https://www.harpbarbecue.com

Meat Mitch BBQ, Leawood KS

Meat Mitch BBQ is a product of award winning pit-master and sauce maker Mitch Benjamin. They opened in December of 2021 after a long construction process. They are no strangers to the Kansas City barbecue scene though, Char Bar is also a Meat Mitch restaurant. Having really enjoying my experience at Char Bar I was anxious to try Meat Mitch BBQ.

Porch sipper

We arrived around 5 o’clock on a Saturday evening. The decor is unique and creates an inviting atmosphere. We ordered the pit masters platter with beans and Mac and cheese, and smoky chicken suckers. The platter comes smoked burnt ends, black Angus carved brisket, smoked turkey, 3 rib bones, pulled pork, smoked rope sausage, and fries.

The ordering system is different, order at the front, sit down, and then a waiter comes by and takes drink orders. Our appetizer and pit-master platter came out at the same time. I am not sure if this is a normal because of how you order, or just an anomaly on this evening.

Overall I can describe our trip to Meat Mitch BBQ that evening as disappointing. I hate to say that but it is the truth. I say disappointing because I know from my Char bar experiences this was not what this restaurant is capable of producing. The chicken suckers had a nice buffalo sauce coating and were served with a very good homemade ranch dressing. The rub on the meat, and the variety of sauces on the table are all fantastic, but the execution just wasn’t there on this platter of food. The ribs were undercooked and not tender, the sausage was cold as soon as it arrived at our table, and the mac and cheese was average. The turkey was a bit dry but overall not bad. The brisket and burnt ends were good, but still lacked some on execution. The rub and sauces compliment each other well. The pulled pork with whomp sauce was my favorite combo. The star of the platter was the beans and fries. The beans very good, probably the best beans I have had at a barbecue restaurant. The fries had a barbecue rub on them and were nice and crispy, very good.

The question is will we go back, and the answer is ABSOLUTELY. I know that every place has an off night and I know that is what this was. Meat Mitch BBQ has a bright future on the Kansas City BBQ scene. Please don’t let anything I have said here discourage you from eating there. I look forward to venturing back there and trying The Meat Tower and some bread pudding next time. Check out their menu and make a plan to grab dinner there in the near future. Let me know your experience. Traveling BBQer https://meatmitchbbq.com

Char Bar, KC

Char Bar, Westport Kansas City

Char Bar is place I had been wanting to try for a few years, but never found time to work it in while we were in KC. That changed a couple of weeks ago, when the wife, myself, and my in laws stopped in for dinner on a Saturday night in KC. The ascetic of the building is unique, fun, and inviting. The staff was very friendly, and provided great service.

love this affect on the ceiling. As an electrician I am glad I didn’t have to make up all those J boxes though

We ordered a round of drinks, and the wifes smore martini was the star of the drink orders. She said it was probably the best drink she has ever ordered.

Char Bar knows to make a cocktail

We chose the fried pickles as an appetizer, and I will say these were the most unique fried pickles I have ever seen. they were thick sliced pickle spears breaded with a tempura like batter served with ranch dressing. They were amazing, and that is coming from someone who doesn’t really like pickles. The ranch dressing was delicious and a perfect compliment to the pickles. They disappeared to quickly to get a picture of the full order.

These were delicious and a must try if you like fried pickles

On to the main course, the womp platter. The womp platter comes with burnt ends, half slab of ribs, pulled pork, pit ham, black Angus brisket, smoked turkey, hand cranked sausage, basket of fries, jar of pickles, and two “nice fixings”. You can also add crispy pork belly bites for $5, which of course we did. The womp platter says it serves two to three so this was perfect for sharing with everyone at the table. We chose to split fries between regular and sweet potato, and had beans and potato salad as the two fixins.

you gotta grab pictures quick

I have to admit we ate at Q39 the night before so I was a little worried the meal the night before would overshadow this one, but it did not. Everything on the platter was delicious. The burnt ends stood out to me the most. The were moist, tender, with great flavor. It is tough to see them in the pictures but I assure you they are there, and worth going for them first. The pork belly bites were most surprising to me. I am not one that likes a lot of a fat on anything so pork belly is not my favorite, but I really liked Char Bars. The only thing on the platter I did not get to try, but I am told it was very good. Char Bar is definitely a place we will be visiting again. It is hard to pin down a favorite BBQ restaurant in KC, but Char Bar is definitely worth being in the conversation. If you wanting a unique atmosphere in a fun part of KC, Char Bar is your spot. Check out their menu and make a reservation when you are in KC. https://charbarkc.com/menu/

Overland Park/Leawood BBQ throw-down

A few weeks ago I found myself tagging along with the wife for a short trip to Overland Park. She had a continuing education event, and I had an idea. Two Titans of Kansas City BBQ have locations in the Overland Park/Leawood area, I was going to try them both and compare. A little over three miles and few stop lights separate these two. We chose to do dinner at Q39 Friday night, and lunch at Joes Kansas City BBQ on Saturday. I had visited both of these establishments multiple times in the past at their original locations, but never at their Overland Park/Leawood spots. Not only did I want to compare the two head to head, but also to my experiences at their original locations. Were they just as good when compared to their original locations?

As you can tell from the picture I got a full spread. Onion straws, brisket, Chicken, ribs, and chipotle sausage, baked beans, and white bean cassoulet. This the same judges platter and ribs that I got at their original locations a few months ago. I will say the platter I got a few months ago at the midtown location was just a bit better. Since I was in no threat of being called into work I also ordered a drink, a whiskey drink. I can’t remember the name but I do remember thinking two of those and the wife would be driving back to the hotel. I can always get behind a place that isn’t afraid of a strong pour. The food was very good overall. Beautiful presentation on the plate, and great service. Brisket was perfectly tender and well seasoned. Ribs were cooked well, and the chicken was juicy with bite through skin. The wife had a wood fired grilled salmon salad, and helped me eat some of mine. She liked her salad, salmon was not dry, and had good flavor. Overall a great meal on Friday night to start the weekend.

Joes Kansas City BBQ 11723 ROE AVE
LEAWOOD, KS 66211

Saturday afternoon lunch had to be taken back to the hotel to accommodate the wifes class. I placed my order online, and followed the curbside delivery instructions when I got there. The staff was very friendly and made sure I had everything I wanted before I drove off. Our hotel was about a mile away so it was roughly 10 minutes from receiving my order to unpacking it in the hotel room.

I ordered brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and ribs, with beans and dirty rice. That plate of ribs is probably the best looking plate of ribs I have received at a restaurant. They would get a perfect appearance score from me if it was a contest entry. The taste backed up the appearance, delicious! Tender, good seasoning, the sauce complimented the rub. I have to give ribs to Joes. The brisket was good, but sliced very thin. Shaved brisket is not as good as a properly sliced portion. So I have to give brisket to Q39. Their slice was the perfect thickness, and tenderness. The chicken was very good at both places, honestly there was no winner here. They both turn out a fantastic chicken. Joes pulled pork was good, good flavor, tenderness, and good moisture. Sausage at both places were very good. The sides I would say go to Joes this time. The wife tried Joes gumbo for the first time and enjoyed it. She spent some time in Louisiana so she is very particular when it comes to cajun food.

Overall both places are worth eating at. I will give the nod to the original locations for both places. Not necessarily because the food is so much better, but the mystic of their original locations. The line at Joes gas station location, the atmosphere of Q39 midtown somehow add to the meal. I am sure I will be back to all of them in the future, and will enjoy every bite. I will leave to the menus below, please check these places out when you are in the Overland Park/Leawood area and let me know your thoughts. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0818/5843/files/restaurant_menu_7.12.21.pdf?v=1626104554 https://q39kc.com/menus/#dinner

The Traveling BBQer

Q39 Kansas City

Last week I had the opportunity to tag along and take advantage of a work trip my wife was taking to Kansas City. We were in town for less than 24 hrs so I had to choose my barbecue spot carefully because I only had time to visit one. I decided on Q39 and made a reservation about a week ahead of time at their 39th street location. Q39 is one the most popular barbecue spots in KC so to say it gets busy is an understatement. They added a second location in Overland Park a few years ago. The wife I had visited Q39 three or four years ago so I had an idea of what to expect, but was still excited to try it. With that amount of time between trips you forget what it is really like.

I was really looking forward to having a drink and experiencing the atmosphere with my usual sampler platter order, but my plans changed. It had rained hard the whole drive up, and between that and the lack of parking I called an audible and just ordered to go. One piece of advice I can give you about Q39 is that if you can Uber/taxi there, do it. There is not near enough parking, and tow away signs in the extra spots. I circled for about ten minutes before I made the decision to order curbside online and take it back to the hotel. I know taking it to go is not as good as fresh in a restaurant but I was fried and wanted to relax, and the hotel was less than ten minutes away.

I ordered the Judges plate which is three meats and two sides. I got sliced brisket, ribs, chicken, and added chipotle sausage as well. For sides I got beans and fries. Keeping it consistent you know. I also ordered the Q39 spiced onion straws with bbq aioli. I ordered desert too but we will get to that in a minute.

spiced onion straws and a heavy judges plate.
So tasty

The onions straws with the spiced aioli were the best I have had anywhere. Perfectly seasoned, and crispy. The barbecue aioli was outstanding. I wish I could have gotten a gallon of it. The judges plate was all around fantastic. The ribs were perfectly cooked for my liking. delicious and tender as it gets. I will admit I do not prefer dark meat chicken but I wanted to give it try. Q39 gives you a leg and thigh, the first thing I tasted on the chicken was smoke. Not a bad smoke, good smoke that compliments a piece of meat like a seasoning. The skin was bite threw, and it was very good. Even for someone who prefers white meat, I enjoyed this chicken.

You can tell a lot about a barbecue place by their brisket. Do they serve sliced or only chopped. Is the sliced brisket sliced correctly, against the grain with the proper thickness. You can even get an idea of how they trim their briskets. In my opinion Q39 does it all right. The brisket slices were top notch in all regards. Sliced to a proper thickness, perfect tenderness, well seasoned with a bit of sauce the slice. Pulls apart with a slight tug, a great bite of barbecue. The chipotle sausage was good, but didn’t compare to the rest of my order. Both barbecue sauces they included with my order were very good. The meal was so good I didn’t realize until a few hours later when I was thinking about this blog that I didn’t receive my second side, the fries. The beans were good, but honestly after sampling all the proteins that was all I wanted. Q39 impressed the hell out me, even getting it to go.

That is a well cooked rib
Well cooked ribs, just how I like them

I ordered two deserts so I could have something for the wife when she got back to the hotel from her work function. I am a sucker for anything lemon, and cheesecake so naturally I selected the champion cheesecake, and the carrot cake with lemon icing. I know what you are thinking, carrot cake, really? Yes! Not something I would normally order, but I can’t say no to a lemon icing. If you like lemon, or carrot cake you will love this dessert. The cheesecake was excellent as well, but if I had to choose one I would go with the carrot cake. The have other desserts on their menu but were not available for online ordering. Could be they were already sold out for the day, or they only offer them in restaurant. Either way I was still happy with my choices. It was late when I could bring myself to sample the desserts so I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures, my bad. I also apologize for the terrible dimming lit, yellow pictures. Hotel room lighting is getting worse and worse.

In a city like Kansas City that is known all over for barbecue Q39 is a standout in my mind. They do everything right. You can tell they don’t skip steps, and are mindful of the small details. Anyone visiting KC should put Q39 at the top of your list. You will not be disappointed. Just remember to Uber to the midtown location. Thanks for reading. The Traveling BBQer.

Kansas City, April

Kansas City is a destination the wife and I try to visit several times a year. We love to spend the weekend eating, drinking, shopping, and exploring the city. This trip we decided to stay downtown close to the plaza, at the Intercontinental Hotel. We found a good deal on Priceline, $133 a night. The Intercontinental Hotel Is a fantastic hotel, with lots of amenities. Lobby bar with live music on Friday and Saturday nights, coffee shop, pool, and easily within walking distance of the plaza. There are a lot of nice Hotels in the Kansas City area so look around for deals.

It was a rainy Saturday, our first stop of the day was to get some coffee. We chose an unconventional spot, a chocolate shop. Christopher Elbow chocolates. It is a highly reviewed chocolate shop in the Crossroads area. We grabbed an assortment of chocolate to compare to our local hometown shop, and I ordered a mocha to get my caffeine fix in. The mocha was delicious. So good in fact that I shared it with the wife because I knew she would love it. I very rarely share my caffeine fix, but I was right she loved it. The assorted chocolates we selected were very good, packed with flavor. I will say I prefer our hometown place, Cocoa Dolce, but Christopher Elbow Chocolates is a must stop for a chocolate lover.

After we grabbed our chocolate, and mocha we headed to our first barbecue spot, Slaps Barbecue. This was my second trip to Slaps, but my wife first. Slaps barbecue has the atmosphere you want in a barbecue spot. Even on a chilly raining morning, there was a small line at opening. The line moves quick and in no time we were ordering. I went with my usually order, the sampler plater. It comes with brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, sausage, and two sides. I also chose to add ribs for a few dollars extra. For sides I selected fries, and baked potato casserole. The baked potato casserole was our favorite side of the ones we tried. All the meats were tender and juicy. Nothing had heavy flavor from rub, the meat was the first thing you taste. The brisket was sliced pretty thin, but you got a good helping of it. I prefer a little thicker slice, about the width of a pencil. It gives you better indication of how well it is cooked. The two meats that really stood out to me was the JalapeƱo sausage and the ribs. The ribs were cooked to absolute perfection. Perfect bite with just the right amount of smoke flavor. They were the star of my sampler plater. I am a sucker for jalapeƱo sausage, and Slaps’ sausage is right at the top of the list of my favorites. The wife ordered a no cow combo. She selected the smoked turkey, and chicken quarter. The chicken was cooked perfect as well. Bite through skin, and great smoke flavor. I was impressed the chicken, I wish I could cook chicken like that. Slaps offers two choices of barbecue sauces, normal and hot. We both like the mix of two the best. Overall Slaps is a must try on the Kansas City Barbecue scene. Check out their menu. https://slapsbbqkc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Daily-Menu-For-Print-5.pdf

Sampler plater add ribs
No cow combo with beans and Mac and cheese
Since I had sacrificed most of my morning coffee, finding another cup was high on my list of things to do. Luckily there is a fantastic coffee shop right across the street. Imagine taken off their Facebook page

After a few hours of shopping at oak park mall, a serious bust, and a quick trip out to Duluth Trading Company we had to get to our dinner reservations. Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue plaza location was our dinner spot. I know barbecue twice in one day, but when in Rome. The plaza location was about a five minute walk from our hotel. Our table was ready right at our reservation time, and we were quickly seated. I appreciate being able to make reservations in barbecue spot, especially during COVID times. Sometimes you just don’t fell like waiting in a line. I was in the mood for a drink so I got what the waiter recommended, a blackberry basil lemonade. Not my favorite drink, but you could definitely taste the vodka. The KC smash I ordered next was much more to my liking. We originally ordered the smoked salmon dip as a starter, but was later told it would be an additional 30 minutes longer wait for it, so we switched to onion rings. They were good, but the homemade ranch dressing that came with them was the star of the appetizer. I once again ordered a sampler platter. Brisket, sausage, ribs, with fries and cheese corn. This gave me a pretty good head to head comparison to lunch. Overall I have to give to the win to Slaps. I really enjoyed my meal at Jack Stack, and the more upscale atmosphere, but the brisket, ribs, and sausage were all better at Slaps. I will definitely be back to eat at Jack Stack again especially if we are staying around the plaza, or crossroads area, I would like to check out their freight house location in crossroads. Here is a link to the menu. https://www.jackstackbbq.com/country-club-plaza-menus

Bad lighting and a few drinks hindered the quality of this picture. It happens right?

Messenger Coffee + Ibis Bakery was our Sunday morning breakfast and coffee stop. This place is a real gem. A coffee shop with rooftop seating, how cool is that! Messenger was packed when we arrived. We waited in line for probably 10 minutes before ordering. Not to bad considering how busy they were. Their coffee was very good. I got my typical drip coffee, no cream no sugar. I was told it was free refills, but I did not test that out. We ordered the country toast, a cinnamon roll, and a Lemon KOUIGN AMANN. All were very good. There is plenty of seating inside, we had no trouble finding a place to eat, and drink our coffee. We will be back to messenger, more than likely every time we are in KC. I really want to spend a morning drinking coffee on the rooftop. We both agreed this was our second favorite coffee shop we had ever been to. The little place in Southwest Harbor, Maine is still our number one. I read that messenger will be opening up another location in the plaza in the next few months. https://messengercoffee.co/pages/menus

Messenger Coffee breakfast.
Blue royal latte. Go Royals!!

Between the Plaza, Zona Rosa, Legends, Oak Park Mall, and the Leawood/Overland Park area, KC has everything you could want multiple times over. Most of our shopping was done in the Leawood, Overland Park area. This is usually our go to area for shopping. Scheels, LL Bean, REi, are a few of our favorites. The only store this area is lacking that I would like to see is a Duluth Trading Company. There is one East of KC in Independence, about a 30 minute drive from the area. The Aloft hotel in Leawood is a place we have stayed at many times, and I would recommend. You can get anywhere around KC fairly quickly so don’t limit your lodging options to just one area of town. I would highly recommend to anyone to spend a weekend in KC. We already have our tickets for the upcoming Immersive Van Gogh exhibit scheduled to open in December.

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