Last weekend, we went to visit some friends that recently relocated to Kansas City, so of course while we were there, we had to check out some of the city’s best BBQ spots. Kansas City is known around the country for its famous and delicious barbecue joints. Its signature style features slow-smoked meats of all kinds with a traditional sauce that’s both a little spicy and sweet at the same time.

With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, it can be a little tough to narrow down a few options for a weekend jaunt into Missouri. For those of you who are thinking of taking a road trip to experience the best KC BBQ, we put together a list of the best KC BBQ weekend trips.

1. Gates Bar-B-Q

Gates Bar-B-Q is a staple of the KC barbecue scene and often tops the lists of places that define the genre. The restaurant first opened in 1946 and has since grown to six different locations and now sells a packaged line of sauces that can be found in retail locations around the region. With a formal yet family-friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place for your first bite of tasty KC fare.

Our recommendation: The Mixed Plate. This heaping plate includes three smoked portions of meats and a traditional southern side, with the favorite choice including ham, sausage, ribs, and fries. If the famous rapper Tech N9ne can name an entire album after this delicious meal, it’s obviously something worth trying out!

Come experience the smokey and tangy flavor of authentic Kansas City barbecue!

Experience the smokey and tangy flavor of authentic Kansas City barbecue!

2. Joe’s Kansas City

Formerly Oklahoma Joe’s, this restaurant first started out when Jeff and Joy Stehney took their BBQ game on the road competing in the KC barbecue competition circuit. After receiving numerous awards, the two eventually launched their own business. The original KC restaurant is operated out of a gas station, which provides a fun and quirky vibe for first-time guests, and has now expanded to three different KC locations.

Our recommendation: The Z-Man Sandwich. This delicious hand-held dish features their slow smoked brisket, smoked provolone, and two onion rings on a kaiser roll. Along with making your taste buds sing, make sure to add a side of Joe’s famous BBQ beans and crispy fries.

3. Q39

Rob Magee is a classically trained chef that has crushed the competition at barbecue contests all around the country. When he and his wife decided to start Q39 in 2014, they focused on traditional KC barbecue styles and made-from-scratch dishes for their menu. The sauces and rubs are very close to Rob’s heart and are produced locally using strict recipes and instructions.

Our recommendation: The Burnt End Burger. This burger is topped with Q39’s excellent burnt ends and a spicy pickle slaw. Another slaw that we highly recommend is the apple coleslaw side, which is perfectly crisp with a touch of sweetness.

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