Kansas City’s barbecue craze has been traced back to Henry Perry, who in the early '20s started barbecuing in an outdoor pit adjacent to his streetcar barn; serving the slabs of his labor wrapped in newspaper. Perry’s ‘cue became quite popular, and it wasn’t long before fans began copying his technique and style to create their own unique barbecue recipes and offerings.
The secondary wave of barbecue “founders” were the families of Bryant, Gates, Boyd, Harris and Thompson. They were later joined by large numbers of pitmasters migrating here from the Southern states in search of work in this exciting, major stockyard/meat packing city. Together their distinctive tastes, talents and flair have created an unprecedented, eclectic barbecue culture recognized on a global scale.
Ardie Davis, author/co-author of nine books about barbecue and founder of the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste Contest, says it was a match made in heaven.
“The abundance of meat and hardwood here, especially oak and hickory, was a perfect match for the pit know-how they brought with them,” Davis says. “Our street corners sported hundreds, if not thousands, of weekend barbecue vendors, and some eventually went indoors full-time with a barbecue restaurant.”
Kansas City barbecue enthusiasts can satisfy their cravings at more than 100 mouth-watering barbecue restaurants dotted around the metro area. From short and long-end pork ribs, to lamb ribs, brisket, beef burnt ends, pork shoulder, chicken, ham, rib tips and even mutton, you’ll find something to tickle your barbecue fancy.