On Kansas City BBQ


In a recent trip to Kansas City, I had the opportunity to try the very cuisine the Midwestern city is famous for: their barbecue! If you like dousing your food with lots of sauce like me, you’ll love Kansas City BBQ – a city and a cuisine that is more than liberal when it comes to sauce. Here in Chicago, we have various barbecue joints like Carson’s Ribs or Smoke Daddy BBQ but nothing near as fun or as tasty as Gates BBQ, a famous Kansas City barbecue chain.


With over 100 barbecue restaurants in the Kansas City area, we made our selection from recommendations rather than conducting our own search. The two most recommended joints were Arthur Bryant’s and Gates BBQ. For no reason at all, we originally chose Arthur Bryant’s, but after driving up to one of its shadier locations, we changed our mind. We went to the Gates BBQ near the downtown area where we greeted with much better lit surroundings and actual cars in the parking lot.

We were greeted by shouts of “Hi, may I help you?” with background shouts of “I need a Mix plate!” and “Can I get a B Beans!” I was initially very overwhelmed since I hadn’t even gotten a chance to read the menu but it was clear that I needed to be on my toes and know what I wanted. I knew I was there to get beef or chicken so I went with whatever came out first: “beef on bun”. David got the “mix plate”.  They both came with fries but we knew we wanted to try the baked beans too so we initiated an order of “B Beans” as well.

After no more than two minutes of a wait, we were given this:


It was one of the biggest trays of food I had seen in awhile. David’s mix plate was enormous:  it had three kinds of meat! Just look at it, it looks like it could eat my little beef on bun sandwich. They gave us bread for dipping too – so we could enjoy the sauce.

Speaking of sauce, that’s what Kansas City BBQ is all about. The sauce at Gates has a smoky spicy flavor. They also had a barbecue sauce bar that offered classic, sweet and mild, and extra spicy options. The spiciness is prevalent and I don’t mean just in a hot way – there is a definite flavor of spice that comes through the sauce.


I was frustrated because I was trying to figure out what spice it was! Of course, there bottled sauce just says “spices” and doesn’t give away any secrets, but after a little research I found the recipe: Gates and Sons BBQ Sauce. I think it was the cumin and the chili powder I was tasting.

But either way, it was quite different – very unlike the sweet K.C. Masterpiece I was used to at home which seems to be why Gates is more indicative of Kansas City BBQ than K.C. Masterpiece (not a single person recommended the place – the only one I had heard of outside of Kansas City, I found that odd).

One of the other elements that Kansas City BBQ is known for is the variety of meat they smoke and douse with sauce. When I picture barbecue, I usually think of ribs, beef, or pork, maybe some chicken. But in Kansas City, you’ve got all that plus sausage, lamb, turkey, fish…you name it. The lamb was intriguing but I stuck with my BBQ beef.


I enjoyed my barbecue beef sandwich and both David and I loved the baked beans. I loved dipping the bread, thick cut fries, and everything on my plate in the sauce. I like extra sauce with every meal I eat so Kansas City BBQ and I are a perfect match. And hungry or not, I definitely found room to enjoy it!

For those of you who are now craving some barbecue but won’t have the opportunity to visit Kansas City anytime soon, may I recommend:

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches
Barbecue Ribs
Barbecued Beans
Cajun Barbecued Chicken
Barbecue on a  Bun

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  • http://www.cookingupafamily.com Courtney

    I enjoy your blog a lot as a big fan of all things Chicago, I have subscribed for a while and am super excited to see you hit my hometown! Gates is great and the reason KC Masterpiece is not that great around here is the have closed most locations if not all of them. I and many around here think the BBQ sauce is too sweet and doesn’t compare to Gates, Arthur Bryant (not my favorite a little too spicy for me) LCs and Jack Stack (my personal favorite for pit baked beans!).

  • http://www.recipe4living.com Hillary

    Thanks for the insight – I’ll have to go back to KC and try Jack Stack’s baked beans! I could definitely see where KC Masterpiece would be too sweet – I agree. Happy new year!

  • http://www.mangotomato.blogspot.com Olga

    wow, that looks fantastic! there aren’t any good bbq places in DC :(

  • bill

    Jack Stack is my favorite KC barbecue joint. I used to go to the Martin City restaurant when it was called the Smokestack. The barbecue beans are incredible. The KC Star (newspaper) once ran their baked beans recipe, but I have searched online and cannot find it. However, you can find clones of it on the net.

  • Mike

    I’m a BBQ nut, and have owned 3 reataurants over the years, 2 in Emporia Ks, and one here in Wichita. I’ve become a Jack’s Stack fan, though the meat is still better at Arthur Bryant’s—just go when it is daylight!!!


  • vegas vickie

    Gates BBQ is the BEST! I spendt my summers as a kid in KC and the thing I remember best is going to Gates for bbq! When I moved to Las Vegas I was thrilled that they had a Gates here, sadly they closed a number of years ago, not for lack of business but “other” reasons. Now with the pictures you have me craving that great bbq again. Thanks for the memories! And to those that haven’t had the pleasure and you get to KC be sure to stop in any of them, you will not be disapointed!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2m1Dxk9zqw Kansas City DJ

    I live 50 miles north in St. Joseph and will easily drive into Kansas City just to hear “Hi may I help you?” Those pics of Gates BBQ are making me want to head south right now.

  • http://www.meathub.com MeatHub Inc.

    This KC BBQ looks amazing! I can’t wait to get out there to try some. :)

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