What Makes Kansas City BBQ So Special?

It’s not just the superiority of Kansas City (KC) barbecue that makes it special. It’s the location. You don’t have to be a master chef to know that BBQ in places like South Carolina and Tennessee is legit. But here’s the distinction. The good barbecue joints in those areas are often divided by hundreds of miles of concrete. That’s not the case here. The KC region has the biggest number of BBQ joints, over 100 to be exact.

That’s more than any city in the US. Visiting 20 in 24 hours isn’t a question of demographics. It’s a question of stamina and common sense.

Que here is special. To begin with, Kansas City perfected a treat called the burnt end. You can find it on almost every BBQ menu in KC and anticipate craving it long after you’ve left the area. It’s that crispy part of the brisket that can’t be sliced, but full of flavor and so good by itself. Pitmasters will chop it into chunks, and then dunk it into sauce. Sometimes, they return the pieces to the smoker for an even more smoky flavor.

Kansas City is a sauce city too. Here, meat is usually seasoned with a dry rub then sauced. It’s the sauce that defines so many of KC’s BBQ eateries. Usually, the style is of a sweeter tone as expressed most remarkably by Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que and Hillsdale Bank BBQ. But Kansas City’s most famous sauces are both more savory than sweet and come from the city’s two heavyweights, Gates and Arthur Bryant’s.

The Top Dogs
Gates Bar-B-Q
Arthur Bryant’s
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue

Being the leader in BBQ means more than just have a lot of top BBQ restaurants. It means providing some great meat at BBQ festivals and competitions.



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