Joe's of Kansas City BBQ, fka Oklahoma Joe's

I’m going to be in Kansas City for the day coming up soon. Anybody eaten at Joe’s of Kansas City BBQ? It’s highly rated as the best in Kansas City for BBQ especially for their burnt ends, but wanted some firsthand opinions if you got 'em.

No Kansas City dopers?

Is that the one in an old gas station?

Not a Kansas City Doper, and I’ve never been to Joe’s, but I do have very small amount of KC BBQ experience…

We took a cross country road trip a few years ago (CA-TN) with a stop in Kansas City for two specific reasons: the WWI museum (a fabulous museum, by the way…see it if you have time), and some KC barbecue. The very nice lady at the museum gift shop recommended Fiorella’s Jack Stack for lunch; if I recall correctly **Rhiannon8404 **had the burnt ends there, and they didn’t disappoint.

I was in Kansas City last year and sampled the local cuisine.

Jack Stacks was very, very good. I had the “Jack’s Best” platter. Everything on it was good (including the cheesy corn bake), but the crown prime beef rib was a religious experience. I would fly halfway across the country again just to eat that. Next time, I’d get just the crown ribs, not the platter. The carrot cake was also very good. We did not stop at Joe’s, as the locals said Jack Stacks was “the place” for bbq.

Anton’s Taproom on Main St was outstanding. Best steak I have ever had, hands down. A bone-in ribeye, just absolutely amazing. The “sausage of the moment” was also a great appetizer, and I don’t like sausage. Not barbecue, but a necessary stop if you’re in KC, IMHO.

I’ve eaten there this fall, and loved it. Best overall barbecue I had in KC, but not a single place we visited was less than excellent. My favorite barbecue dish, though, was burnt ends from LC’s.


Joe’s is fine, but not exceptional. Give me Woodyard.

I lived 50 minutes from KC, from 2005 to 2015. Arthur Bryant’s is my favorite. Be sure to go to the original location on 18th street, for the real experience.

(Jack Stack’s tastes great, but is missing that KC grit. Though I must say their burnt ends might be slightly better than Arthur’s. Arthur’s is at least as good, perhaps better, at the other items – pulled pork, etc.)

Yeah, from the places we visited Bryant’s and LC’s had that grit to them. We also hit up Jack Stack’s, Oklahoma Joe’s, and Q39. Despite being told Bryant’s is only for tourists or that it’s really fallen off over the years, I guess not having a point of comparison, I wouldn’t know, but I thought it was solid. We went to the 18th street location, and it had solid burnt ends and my favorite sauce of the bunch (probably because it wasn’t a typical sweet KC-style barbecue sauce. I don’t like sweet sauces all that much, and I’m generally not much of a sauce person when it comes to barbecue.)

Joe’s, despite being in or attached to a gas station was a very nice, clean, cafeteria style place. I’ve been to some gas station barbecues before, and this was not some slapped together gas-station hole-in-the-wall. Very efficient line, good turnaround times, and everything we had there was solid, with clean, smoke flavor, perfect balance of tenderness and chew. If I had a complaint, it’s that the barbecue was too perfect and neat, if that makes any sense.

Q39 was a new-fangled hipsterish place, but they put out some great burnt ends, too. It seemed like their version was a mix of smoking and grilling for extra char, served neatly cut into cubes with a light dousing of a flavorful, sweet barbecue sauce. I have to say, they were my second favorite burnt ends, although they were a bit more of a neat, modern take on them.

LC’s is old school, gritty barbecue. You walk into that place and come out smelling like a fire. This is barbecue how I LOVE it. Couple slices of white bread, burnt ends with that fatty crackling sliced off the brisket in front of you, and sauce if you like. Love love love this place.

Jack Stack’s (at least the location we visited) is a nice sit-down restaurant, and featured a variety of burnt ends. You can get ham, pork, beef, and sausage “burnt ends.” My favorite at this joint was their lamb ribs. Definitely the stand-out. But all their cue was competent, too. Definitely the place I’d go to if I wanted a pleasant sit-down dinner with the family and not just lunch at a barbecue joint.

Like I said, from where we visited, there was not a single bad meal to be had, but my first two stops in KC would be LC’s and Joe’s.

Never made it to LCs (it’s on the other side of town), but based on your scrumptious description, I’ll make a point of it next time I’m down there.

Yeah, if you liked Bryant’s and its vibe, I suspect you’d like LC’s. While looking up a video of it, I discovered that apparently Anthony Bourdain was quite fond of it, too.

Cool – I’m one of those who really likes Bourdain. (I might show a little of his stuff to my World Culture Regions students).

Depending on when you go, be prepared to wait in line. I’ve stood in line for over an hour on a few Saturday evenings, but yeah I think it’s worth it. They do have two other locations, in Leawood and Olathe. I’ve been to the Olathe location and the wait isn’t nearly as long.

Funny thing, I have lived in the KC area for over 30 years and have never been to Arthur Bryant’s. Some people say it is the best and others say it is just coasting on its reputation these days. I should go at least once just so I can cross that one off the bucket list.

I don’t get it. That place sucks. Not enough smoke on the meat (a problem in most barbecue places outside of East/Central Texas, so they’re not unique in this) mediocre side dishes, and crabby, impolite employees. The sauce is fine, but if you have to rely on your sauce to save your barbecue, you’re doing it entirely wrong. I’ve been to the 18th st. location twice, and been absolutely underwhelmed both times. Irritated even; I kept hearing how awesome it was, and so I went back, thinking maybe I just landed there on a bad day originally. But nope… mediocre barbecue off in a relatively sketchy part of Kansas City with unpleasant employees.

I hear Jack Stack’s and Fiorella’s are better, but I haven’t had them yet.

FYI, it’s “Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ” - multiple locations.

It’s hard to find BBQ that isn’t at least decent in KC - any place that doesn’t hit that bar tends to shut down, since there are a lot of great choices. Personally, I’ve always been partial to Rosedale Barbeque, which claims to be KC’s oldest. Possibly because it was the first I had when I moved here.

Yeah, Bryant’s is polarizing. :slight_smile: We almost skipped it on our trip, due to the comments I mentioned above that said it’s been resting on its laurels or that it’s just the place the tourists go to, but thankfully didn’t. I personally found it plenty smokey (and smokier than most of the other KC places we went to, though LC’s was the smokiest of the places we visited), and none of the meat needed sauce, although of the bunch, it was my favorite sauce. (I’m a “sauce on the side” guy.) I also don’t eat side dishes at barbecue other than bread and sometimes coleslaw, so I can’t really comment on those. Is it the first place I’d recommend in KC? No, but definitely worth visiting at some point for a yardstick.

Next time I’m in KC, Gates and Woodyard are at the top of my list to continue research. But barbecue is a very personal thing. I tend to like my barbecue a little rough around the edges, less “competition” style where everything is cooked exactly and temperatures and smoke are carefully monitored through the whole process, and more backyard pit style where there may be a little more variation in the product, but the highs are really high, but occasionally, you’ll get a clunker. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I just highly recommend everyone to explore and try different types of barbecue and see what it is they like. And, like Folacin said, if our experiences were representative, there was no bad barbecue to be found in KC. Just different kinds.

Speaking of, it also seems that he recommended Joe’s as one of the 13 places to eat at before you die. So the OP really can’t go wrong there. :slight_smile: I don’t know if it was anywhere near that transformative for me and, if I only had to pick one thing to eat from KC barbecue, it’d be LC’s burnt ends, but it’s a great first stop and introduction to KC barbecue, or at least this generation of KC barbecue. If you don’t like Joe’s, you probably just don’t like barbecue.

Note my location.

As a native picking a favorite BBQ in KC is a nebulous decision. There a so many different styles and smokes and sauces that it’s more like a “what flavor today” decision.

Not mentioned here is one of my favorites, Plow Boys. It’s a new venture which has, in my opinion, burnt ends that are worth the 20 min trip from my house. Plow boys has locations in Blue Springs MO (East of Downtown) and another location in the Town Pavilion building in downtown KC.

Your interest in Joe’s is valid although I’ve only had lunch food at Joes (Z sandwich is fantastic). It has good meats and great sauces.

Jack Stack and Gates both have good seating and clean dining areas (A fussy wife might be happier there than LC’s which is a dive). I would rate Jack Stack as the better taste of the two. Many in the area rate it at the top.

Both LC’s and Aurthur Bryant’s are what I would call “experience” BBQ. Both have excellent meats and sauces (Bryant’s sauce is unlike most others and has a somewhat cult following) The experience is born from the clutter and dive. It’s kind of like hearing a good blues band in a dive bar is a better experience than if they played at an Applebee’s.

For a one-day trip, Joe’s is the place to go. If you go on a day they serve burnt ends, there’s no other choice. If they don’t have it, the Z-Man is a pretty signature sandwich (yeah, cheese on BBQ is weird, but it works). If you can squeeze in another restaurant, Jack’s Stack is fine dining BBQ, as it were. Like KCB615 said, get the sample platter - there’s something for everyone.

If you do go to Bryant’s, avoid the burnt ends or rib tips. The ribs and any of the smoked and sliced meats are where it’s at. I get the beef and pork combo sandwich - it’s amazing. At Gates I get the ribs or the brisket. They’ve fallen off in quality lately, so lower your expectations.

There are plenty of other great suggestions in this thread. But I think for a first-timer, you should really stick to the big names, and come back to explore the other options.

(Also, try to pair up your BBQ with a beer from Boulevard.)