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
Almost every Barbecue restaurant does specials. Some run one special all week, others do different items on certain days of the week. These specials can be a big draw for the restaurant. A few weeks ago I happened to try two of these specials just days apart.
Pig In! Pig Out! started in Wichita in 1996 and has recently started serving BBQ pizza on Thursdays. I had driven past the sign for a few weeks before I got the opportunity to stop in for lunch. This was hands down the best BBQ pizza I have had. National pizza chains have tried BBQ pizza in the past but I promise you this beats all of them. Their smoked meats combined with a sweet sauce and perfectly proportioned cheese, this is as good as it gets. One pizza is big enough to split with two people. I had half leftover for lunch the next day. I hope this BBQ pizza is a Thursday staple at Pig in! Pig out! for a long time.
A few days later my in-laws came to town and wanted When pigs fly for dinner. When Pigs fly does weekly specials and this weeks was a BBQ burrito. The person taking our order said it was one of their most popular specials so I decided to give it a shot. It had pulled pork, crispy onion straws, Mac and cheese, bbq sauce, and came with a bag of chips. The burrito was good, meat was a little dry, but overall good flavor. I added a little more bbq sauce to the burrito, but overall I was satisfied with my choice. Every special I have had at When Pigs Fly has been good. They truly are one of the best spots in Wichita to eat.
So which one did I like better? This round has to go to the BBQ pizza at Pig in! Pig out! I was blown away by how good it was. It was one of the best pizzas I have had, and it was from a BBQ spot. Pig in! Pig out! knocked this one out of the park in my opinion. I hear they have added a second pizza to the Thursday lineup, a BBQ chicken pizza that I cannot wait to try. I may just block my calendar this Thursday to ensure I make it over there. Check out both restaurants, link to websites below. https://pipobbq.comhttps://www.whenpigsflywichita.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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=1626104554https://q39kc.com/menus/#dinner
Bite Me BBQ is one the cities highest rated barbecue spots. It is located in downtown Wichita at 132 St Francis, on the edge of old town. I have been there for lunch and dinner and the quality remains consistent throughout the day. I have taken many trips there over the last couple months and tried various meat combos, and they have all been well executed.
When ordering brisket I always go for the sliced. It is smokey, tender, and well seasoned. I think it pairs better with the original sauce, but their spicy sauce is good too. Pulled pork is always moist, and not overly pulled. They leave it longer pieces to give it more texture, and I really like that. Sausage is good, with just the right of spice. I have ordered ribs there a couple of times and they have been well cooked, tender, and moist. They do very minimal trimming on their ribs, if any at all. I understand that for restaurants, no waste, and quicker preparation, but I wish they did a little more trimming and gave me a cleaner rib. They offer a variety of sides, so far I have only tried the fries, Mac and cheese, and baked beans, and green beans. All have been very good. The thing that makes me Bite Me stand out for us is not something you would expect. It is their self serve pickle bar. They offer a variety of pickles, from normal to spicy, and I can tell you the spicy live up to their name. My wife loves the pickle bar, and always comes back to the table with a variety for us to share.
It is easy to see why Bite Me is one of top rated barbecue places in town. The staff is always friendly and helpful. The building is unique with a good atmosphere (and really neat old bar) and the food is delicious. I highly recommend you check it out. Order a Bloody Mary, your choice of barbecue and enjoy a good meal with family or friends. Barbecue is always better when eaten with others. Check out their menu… http://biteme-bbq.com/index.php/menu
Continuing on the Wichita barbecue trail I stopped for lunch at one the most popular spots in town, B and C bbq. B and C is located in Wichitas old town area, on 3rd and Washington. The building itself has a great barbecue vibe. You can smell the smoke in the air as you walk up. In the past the only option was the all you can eat buffet, covid has changed that somewhat. The all you can eat option has returned to the menu, along with some new options. Also In the past you were able to serve yourself, covid restrictions still prevent that but the all you can eat option is the only way to go in my opinion.
I arrived a few minutes before they opened the doors, and there were several people waiting for the doors to be unlocked. I paid and proceeded to the back to the buffet line. They only had chopped brisket available at the time, so I got that, hot links, and they had a sweet glazed spare ribs that day I thought sounded good. the two sides I chose were potato salad, and pasta salad. I am not a fan of potato salad in general, but B and Cs wasn’t bad. The pasta salad was much more to my liking. The sweet glazed ribs were the star of the show for me on this trip. They were perfectly tender, and delicious. The glaze had the right of sweet, with a little spice to balance it out. I do not know if they have them all the time, just on certain days, or what but if you go and they are available get them you will not be disappointed. The hot links are among my favorite around town, Great flavor, with a spicy kick, Some “hot links” forget the hot part, these are very good. The chopped brisket was good, but forgettable. A quality offering, but nothing that makes you crave a return trip. The sweet glazed ribs on the other hand, those have crossed my mind a few times since last eating them. I hope on my next trip to B and C they are available.
Speaking of a return trip, will I make one? Absolutely. B and C is fine barbecue spot. The all you can eat buffet was better precovid when you could serve yourself and only have to wait in the buffet line one time, but it is still the best deal in Wichita for barbecue. If you are in Wichita put B and C on your list of places to try. Get out and enjoy some barbecue, The Traveling BBQer.
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.
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.
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.
Recently an article was published by the Chefs Pencil ranking americas best bbq cities. It stirred up quite the controversy around here listing Wichita Kansas as the third best barbecue city in the United States. Some defended their city and its ranking, and others were outspoken in their disagreement. Having lived in, or relatively close to Wichita my entire life I have eaten a lot of barbecue around town, and have never considered Wichita a great barbecue city. The barbecue culture in Wichita is still in its infancy. There are a few long time establishments that serve barbecue here, but nothing like what you find in other parts of the country. Skylight inn bbq in Ayden North Carolina established in 1947, Big Bob Gibsons in Decatur Alabama established in founded in 1925, or Kreuz Market in Lockhart Texas established in 1900 for example. Barbecue is more of a fast food option, then an experience in Wichita. There are no lines at opening, no 1000 gallon offset pits pumping out blue smoke from a well run fire. No one doing it the hard way for that perfect bite of barbecue. There isn’t that special barbecue spot that you can put in the elite category with places in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Carolinas to name a few. But does all that mean Wichita isn’t a great barbecue city? A week ago I would have definitely said it wasn’t, but maybe it is time I take a fresh look.
There are few places I have been to enough there is no need to make a special trip to again, like Hog Wild, and Crutch BBQ. Hog Wild is basically a fast food bbq joint, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Nothing special, but it wild is quick and convenient with multiple locations across town. Crutch BBQ is relatively new, but after a couple of trips there and trying different menu items I hate to say I am not a fan. There are other places I prefer to go. This is just my opinion, and honestly I hope if you have the chance you give Crutch a try for yourself and see what you think. I am going to start visiting the local bbq joints again, but with fresh eyes this time. I plan trying to get to at least one a week, and post a review. I will reference trip advisor and yelps rankings and post them in my review. Maybe this can be on going thing? I know of at least one new barbecue spot scheduled to open in the next few months, and the food truck scene around town usually has a new barbecue option to track down and try. I travel to eat barbecue why not keep it local and try what is close to home. Maybe after visiting these places again, and writing out my thoughts my mind will be changed. Maybe Wichita is a great barbecue city, but I was too accustom to it to notice. Only time and sampler platters will tell. Traveling Bqqer.
Saturday morning we decided to “travel” a bit north of Park City Kansas to grab a quick coffee and breakfast at Elderslie Farm. More specifically at their Bramble Cafe. The Bramble Cafe only offers outdoor seating so it is only open part of the year. My intention was to just grab a pastry and coffee, but after looking at the menu I had to try their biscuits and gravy. B.&Gs have always been a favorite of mine and the Bramble Cafes did not disappoint. The biscuits were soft and fluffy, and the homemade sausage gravy was perfectly peppered for my taste. If you do not like a lot of pepper these may not be for you, you better stick with the pastries. We tried the blackberry lemon scone, and sea-salt chocolate chip cookie (why not right?). The scone was very good, not overly sweet (which I like) soft and flaky. We have had the blackberry linzer tart a few times in the past and it is a must try. They offer endless coffee, and have two different local coffees to choose from, Reverie and Local roasters. I went with the Reverie brew, black as usual. Check out the Bramble Cafe menu https://eldersliefarm.com/bramble-cafe/
Elderslie Farm has a fine dining restaurant that focuses on fresh locale ingredients. The menu changes with seasons, and availability of ingredients. We have not had the chance to try the fine dining in person, but during the pandemic we were a frequent of their weekly meals they offered one night a week. We had many Friday night take home meals and they were all very good. Our favorite was a mushroom beef stroganoff. Honestly that stroganoff might have been the most surprising and delicious thing I have gotten from a restaurant. It was absolute perfection. The deserts that went along with the meals were all great, from the shortcake, to chocolate mousse, to homemade Ice cream, and everything in-between. They have opened their patio to appetizers and wine offerings. Here is a link to the current fine dining menu https://eldersliefarm.com/restaurant/
Their Creamery offers their cheeses, and charcuterie. Early spring you can also bring your kids out to “meet the kids”.