The Ultimate Guide to Kansas City Barbeque

Discover the unique flavors of Kansas City barbeque and learn about its history and different styles in this ultimate guide from an expert's perspective.

The Ultimate Guide to Kansas City Barbeque

As an expert in the world of barbeque, I can confidently say that Kansas City is the "Barbeque Capital of the World". With over 100 barbeque restaurants in the city, it's no surprise that Kansas City has its own unique spin on this beloved American cuisine. From the type of meat used to the sauces and rubs, each neighborhood in Kansas City has its own distinct flavor when it comes to barbeque.

The History of Kansas City Barbeque

Before we dive into the different neighborhoods and their barbeque styles, let's take a look at the history of barbeque in Kansas City. The origins of Kansas City barbeque can be traced back to the early 1900s when Henry Perry, a former slave, opened up a stand selling smoked meats in an alley in downtown Kansas City.

This was the birthplace of Kansas City barbeque and it quickly gained popularity among workers and travelers passing through the city. As more and more people flocked to Perry's stand for his delicious smoked meats, other entrepreneurs began opening up their own barbeque joints in the city. This led to a competition among pitmasters to create the best barbeque, resulting in the development of unique flavors and techniques that are still used today.

The Different Neighborhoods and Their Barbeque Styles

Kansas City is divided into several neighborhoods, each with its own distinct style of barbeque. Let's take a closer look at some of these neighborhoods and their signature barbeque dishes.


Located just south of downtown Kansas City, Westport is known for its traditional style of barbeque. Here, you'll find classic dishes such as slow-smoked ribs, brisket, and pulled pork.

The meat is cooked low and slow over hickory wood, resulting in tender and flavorful barbeque. Westport is also home to some of the oldest barbeque restaurants in the city, including Arthur Bryant's and Gates Bar-B-Q.


The Plaza neighborhood is known for its upscale barbeque restaurants that offer a more refined dining experience. Here, you'll find dishes such as smoked prime rib and grilled salmon, in addition to the traditional barbeque fare. The sauces used in Plaza barbeque tend to be on the sweeter side, with a hint of molasses or brown sugar.


Brookside is a charming neighborhood known for its eclectic mix of restaurants, including some of the best barbeque joints in the city.

The barbeque here is a fusion of different styles, with influences from Texas and Memphis. You'll find a variety of meats on the menu, including smoked turkey and burnt ends. The sauces used in Brookside barbeque are tangy and slightly spicy, giving it a unique flavor.

North Kansas City

North Kansas City is home to some of the most popular barbeque restaurants in the city, including Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que and Q39. The barbeque here is known for its bold flavors and generous portions.

You'll find dishes such as smoked sausage, burnt ends, and beef ribs on the menu. The sauces used in North Kansas City barbeque are a combination of sweet and spicy, giving it a well-balanced flavor.

The Secret to Kansas City Barbeque

So what makes Kansas City barbeque so special? The secret lies in the sauces and rubs used to flavor the meat. Kansas City barbeque is known for its thick, tomato-based sauces that are sweet and tangy. These sauces are often brushed on the meat during the cooking process, resulting in a caramelized and flavorful crust. In addition to the sauces, the rubs used in Kansas City barbeque are also a key component.

These rubs are made up of a blend of spices and herbs, such as paprika, garlic, and brown sugar. They are applied to the meat before it is cooked, giving it a rich and smoky flavor.


Kansas City barbeque is more than just a meal, it's a cultural experience. Each neighborhood in Kansas City has its own unique spin on this beloved cuisine, making it a must-try for any food lover. Whether you prefer traditional barbeque or something more upscale, there's something for everyone in Kansas City.

So next time you're in town, be sure to sample some of the best barbeque in the world!.