Kansas City Barbecue Tour: Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

My family and I began our barbecue tour by chance at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, formerly known as Oklahoma Joe’s. Joe’s began as an assuming restaurant inside of a local gas station on the corner of 47th Street and Mission Road in Kansas City, Kansas. Often times you avoid eating the food at a gas station, but Joe’s is certainly an exception. Chef Anthony Bourdain named Joe’s original gas station location to his 13 Places You Must Eat Before You Die.” Today, Joe’s Kansas City has three locations around Kansas City, Kansas and a private dining and event space, The 180 Room.

A trip to Hen House Market in Leawood, Kansas brought my family and I right across the street from a Joe’s. We stepped inside and immediately looked like tourists not knowing what to do or where to go. Thankfully, some kind locals helped us out. We got in the line that wrapped around half of the dining room and browsed the menu.


Joe’s, much like most barbecue restaurants in Kansas City, serve almost every type of barbecue meat. Between my parents and I, we ordered a decent spread of Joe’s offerings, including ribs, burnt ends and brisket. While the line to order was long, it took mere minutes to actually receive our platters of barbecue and sides. They don’t play around when it comes to getting you hot food.

Joe’s brisket is slow cooked so it comes out juicy with a smoky flavor, using Missouri White Oak to achieve this signature flavor. I added a glob of Joe’s famous barbecue sauce to the lean slices, bringing a little sweetness and some heat to the meat. My mom got the same brisket on a sandwich and selected a sauce from the table to drizzle on top.

As I ate my brisket, I kept eyeing my dad’s burnt ends. Joe’s burnt ends were my favorite of all three restaurants I tried during my trip. Visibly juicy, these tender cubes of beef perfection made my mouth water.

My dad and I both got ribs to accompany our respective meats. The ribs had a beautiful smoke ring on them and a little caramelization on top from the sauce. I choose not to add any extra sauce and savor the ribs on their own.

The barbecue dinners are served with pickles, toast and a side dish. For my side, I was intrigued by the Kansas Caviar. Unlike traditional caviar, Kansas Caviar is not made from fish roe.

This bright and fresh side dish is made with carrots, lima beans, red peppers, corn and red onion in a vinegar base. My first bite of Joe’s Kansas Caviar left me underwhelmed but once I stirred up the mildly acidic juices at the bottom, I really appreciated the dish. This was probably the healthiest thing I ate this entire trip.

In addition to traditional barbecue sandwiches and platters, Joe’s also features specialty sandwiches on their menu. Ask anyone at Joe’s and they’ll sing the praises of The Z-Man Sandwich, featured on a number of television shows and food websites. Slow-smoked brisket is covered with melted provolone cheese and topped with crispy onion rings. Another sandwich that caught my eye was The Rocket Pig. A pork lover’s dream, this sandwich piles up pulled pork, bacon, pepper jack cheese and is topped with fried jalapenos.

For dessert, my mom and I split the Warm Apple Crisp. While we were nearly too full to finish the small dessert, something sweet was the perfect way to end the meal.

You’ll find Joe’s at the top of many “best barbecue restaurants in Kansas City” rankings but the sure sign to me that it was a winner was that the restaurant had a live celebrity endorsement. Actor and Kansas City native Paul Rudd enjoyed some of Joe’s barbecue when my family and I were there. While I didn’t notice because I was too focused on the food, the girl next to me spent at least 15 minutes fangirling about the celebrity encounter. Basically, I had a fantastic barbecue lunch with Paul Rudd and that’s the story I’m telling people.

Joe’s Kansas City is located at 3002 W 47th Ave., Kansas City, 11950 S Strang Line Road, Olathe and 11723 Roe Ave., Leawood.