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Gates Bar-B-Q: Sassy BBQ

Gates Bar-B-Q: Sassy BBQ

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It is a treat for us from SE Kansas to eat at Gates. On the down side the staff seems like they couldn't care less if we are there and are displeased if we don't know what we want immediately. I am always nice to them. The Gates family are hard working and I trade with them because of that and the good food.

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Gates Bar-B-Q

As soon as you walk in you are hit with a greeting of “Hi, may I help you?” Of course, if you’re new here then at least a quick scan of the overhead menu will be necessary. So step aside and listen to the regulars place their orders: it’s like another language. Folks here are very specific about how they want their meats cut, their meals prepared. Slice this cut of beef in such-and-such a manner from that side, extra meat on a roll. None of these options appear on the menu, mind you they are simply the requests of experienced barbecue eaters who know what they like. Newcomers can get flustered and overwhelmed.

We asked for a burnt ends sandwich and were warned that the burnt ends are trimmings from the beef. We know burnt ends but we hedged our bet and changed the order to a combo sandwich of burnt ends and regular beef. They were happy to oblige. These burnt ends really are the trimmings, unlike most others that try to emulate trimmings but are actually prepared to be burnt ends. Gates ends are luscious and smoky, and frankly fatty (trimmings!). We love them.

On this trip we tried spare ribs at Gates, Jack Stack, Woodyard, Oklahoma Joe’s, and even Wabash up in Excelsior Springs. Not a bad batch of ribs in the lot, but crusty and gorgeous-looking as some of them were, we found the smokiness to be surprisingly restrained. Except for the ribs at Gates, that is. They are far from the largest racks in Kansas City, but they are also well-seasoned with a rub before they spend their alotted time in the smoker, and this pork-smoke-rub is a heady combination, especially towards the end of the short end (unless you are buying the whole rack, ribs in KC come in “short end” and “long end” versions). We didn’t get to our favorite KC Q joint, LC’s, during this trip, but of the ribs we sampled this go-round, Gates came out on top.

Gates, along with Arthur Bryant’s, are the two descendants of Kansas City’s founding father of BBQ, Henry Perry. They’ve both been around a long time, and we’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reports on AB’s these days, and weren’t sure what to expect from Gates. There are currently six Gates branches around town, two of them on the Kansas side of the state line, and their slick appearance and comfortable dining rooms belie the fact that they are really cafeterias with sassy, but friendly, service, and real Kansas City barbecue.

Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

Despite its humble start inside a gas station, Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que has grown to become one of the most popular barbecue joints in Kansas City. Today there are several locations, but for the original, head to 47th & Mission in downtown Kansas City. There’s plenty of deliciousness to choose from on the menu. However, Joe’s is known for their Z-Man Sandwich, a toasted Kaiser roll topped with slow-smoked beef brisket, provolone cheese and crispy onion rings. Anthony Bourdain even deemed Joe’s worthy of a spot on his list of “13 places to eat before you die.” So, as you can imagine, yes, the lines are generally out the door (but it’s so worth the wait).

Z-Man Sandwich from Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que has grown to become one of the most popular barbecue joints in Kansas City.

Photo by: David D. Morris / Visit KC

Q39 may not be as well-known as some of the other barbecue restaurants in town, but in just a few years, this hip barbecue joint has developed an incredibly loyal following. Prior to opening Q39, classically-trained Executive Chef Rob Magee competed in barbecue competitions with a team he assembled called the Munchin Hogs, winning competitions and national championships. Order the insanely popular Burnt Ends Burger, or try one of their competition BBQ dinner plates, like the Judges Plate, which has spare ribs, sliced brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sausage. Don’t forget the sides, like white bean cassoulet, house-cut fries and apple coleslaw. Make a reservation or plan to spend time waiting for a table.


Just like St. Louis, Memphis, Tennessee is a city of pork-lovers. This style of barbecue is slow-cooked in a pit and served either “dry” or “wet”. As you can guess, “dry” means meat served with a dry rub of various spices, while “wet’ means meat served covered in barbecue sauce. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held here each May. Teams compete in categories such as “Best Whole Hog”, “Best Ribs”, and “Best Sauce”. If you buy tickets to the event you get to taste AND judge the food!

Gates Bar-B-Q: Sassy BBQ - Recipes

The Gates Bar-B-Q logo exemplifies everything about Kansas City’s longest standing Black owned restaurant.

The logo is of a man in a black tuxedo, wearing a black top hat, while wielding a cane at his side as he elegantly strolls with a bag of Gates barbecue in his free hand. It exemplifies class, pride, and dignity, but with an understanding that nobody is too good for a bag of barbecue.

“It was really important, in the beginning, that Gates Bar-B-Q changed what barbecue could be in Kansas City,” said Bianca Gates, a fourth generation Gates. “It didn’t have to be a shack. It didn’t have to be messy. We could clean it up, and it could be the kind of place you can be proud to call your own.”

When Gates Bar-B-Q was founded in 1946, its founder, George W. Gates, opened the family’s first restaurant in one of Kansas City’s segregated communities.

After working for a railroad company, he decided to invest his savings into “Gates Ol’ Kentucky,” which would later become the first Gates Bar-B-Q.

As Gate Bar-B-Q enters its 75 th year of operation, the Gates family knows that whatever barbecue trends emerge in Kansas City, Gates Bar-B-Q will lead the way just like their logo suggests.

“Barbecue was a point of pride,” said Bianca, “and everyone who felt that pride could be proud of where they came from and got a better idea of where they would like to go.”

The eatery is still around after several challenges and changes.

Despite a fire in 1951, Gates Bar-B-Q persevered and opened a second restaurant in 1954. In 1956, Gates Bar-B-Q changed its name to Gates & Son’s Bar-B-Q as Ollie Gates took a bigger role in the family business.

“The challenge for our grandparents was that we were in a segregated part of town at that time, and the Black dollar was fluid,” said Arzelia Gates, a third generation Gates. “As the city started to open up, we started to expand and for us, it was going further south.”

The family opened their first restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas in 1975 and in Independence, Missouri in 1979.

From the Gates Bar-B-Q website, “these restaurants thrived as people from throughout the metropolitan area became avid customers, but more importantly, two milestones had been passed: first, the myth that Kansas City could accommodate only a few barbecue restaurants had been destroyed and secondly, that barbecue had been elevated to a respectable industry.”

The new challenge for the family then was to keep up with demand.

“We had a product that everybody recognized and wanted. So they came to wherever we were to get that,” said Arzelia. “People loved the smell of the smoke, and they like the taste of the product we were putting out. So I think that established us. Then we tried to become a brand, and we branded ourselves over that course of time.”

It was also in 1975 when major supermarkets started selling Gates Bar-B-Q Sauce. The tangy, vinegar-based sauce is a staple of Kansas City barbecue much like their sandwich “The Nooner.” Created by Arzelia, it’s a slice of meat, whether beef, ham, turkey, or pork, topped with burnt ends.

“Burnt ends started off as not something you would serve, but something you would let sit on the counter to let your customers taste,” said Bianca. “Now it’s a become a mainstream dish for barbecue fans everywhere.”

Topped off by their signature sauce, their signature ribs and burnt ends, is their classic customer service. With 75 years and counting, Gates Bar-B-Q plans to keep expanding and being a staple in not only the Black community, but a model restaurant in general.

‘We know how important it is to have Black businesses last 75 years,” said Bianca. “Especially when they stay in the community and they really pay attention to making themselves part of the culture. I feel a personal responsibility to keep that going as long as I possibly can, and I know whatever I do in the future will be so that someone else can keep that going.”

Wicker's BBQ Sauce

The famous and historical Wicker's in Missouri has been making delicious marinades and sauces for over 50 years, with a long family tradition of cooks for decades before that. This sauce is similar to one of their most famous creations.

The savory combination of spices makes this a perfect barbecue sauce for pulled pork or smoked chicken, but it is the vinegar and mustard that give that special mouth-watering tanginess. Spices, particularly cumin, add and earthy taste to this surprisingly easy-to-make sauce.

Cooks in 20 minutes and keeps in the fridge for 1 week.

South Carolina BBQ Hash

Looking for a classic Kansas City BBQ Sauce recipe to make at home? There is none better than you’ll find at Gates Bar-B-Q in Kansas City.

John Padgett cooks Southern BBQ farther South than most people: in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

He opened a restaurant there focused on BBQ and worked to develop a range of sauces to compliment the pork.

He shared his Kansas City style barbecue sauce with us, along with the story of how it was created:

“I’m a big mustard guy, myself, and my second favorite was always pure cider vinegar with red pepper flakes and salt however, when I found a Kansas City recipe with ketchup (not overwhelming amounts) and cayenne, it won me over. In fact, that sauce was one of the favorites in the restaurant.

“When I began researching and testing recipes for the restaurant, I knew we wanted several varieties of sauces. Because the concept was Southern BBQ and the customer got to choose what kind of sauce he wanted, we called the restaurant The Naked Pig BBQ: “We Leave The Dressing To You.” (I sold more T-shirts than food, lol.)

“I knew all about NC, SC, and Tennessee sauces and dry rubs, but not too much in the way of Kansas City style sauces. I had always heard that their sauces had a kick to them, so after testing several, I fell upon one that closely resembles Gates Bar-B-Q, and the rest was history.

“It was the perfect blend, and it went really well with the coleslaw I made, which resembled Memphis style slaw.”

Enjoy John’s classic homemade Gates Bar-B-Q style Kansas City BBQ sauce recipe:

Kansas City BBQ

It's easy to go hog wild in Kansas City, MO, where you'll find some of the world's best barbecue joints. Casual roadside stops and white-tablecloth restaurants turn out platters of hickory-smoked ribs, tender brisket and succulent pulled pork while competing for the title of best Kansas City BBQ. Bring a big appetite, and set off on a barbecue showdown, sampling the decadent smoky dishes at these top Kansas City barbecue restaurants.

Battle of the BBQ: Memphis vs. Kansas City Edition 01:00

Memphis and Kansas City are both passionate about their barbecue, but which city does it better?

Arthur Bryant's
Arthur Bryant's was first opened in the early 1920s by the namesake's brother Charlie, but Arthur was the one to make the important decision to move the restaurant to 18th and Brooklyn streets near the Municipal Stadium. Major league baseball players and hungry fans made Arthur Bryant's an essential BBQ stop on the way to or from a game. Today, there are 2 other restaurants in the line-up, all serving the legendary slow-smoked ribs with Original or Rich & Spicy sauce that prompted author Calvin Trillin to declare this Kansas City stalwart the best restaurant in the country.

Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue
Barbecue fanatics take their place in line at Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue, a gas station-turned-BBQ-emporium for tender ribs, tasty sandwiches and award-winning sauces. Sandwiches range from the standard brisket, smoked ham and smoked turkey to unique combos like the Hog Heaven, a delightful union of pulled pork and sliced sausage piled high on a bun.

B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ
Enjoy your barbecue with a side of blues at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ which hosts live blues music every night of the week. Diners can enjoy jam sessions and touring bands for a small cover charge while indulging in the Pulled Porker sandwich, a pit-smoked Italian sausage sandwich with sweet red peppers or a slab of ribs served alongside battered fries or Big Bertha's onion rings. Appetizers add an unusual twist to the menu with buffalo shrimp, slow-smoked chicken wings and a soup starring the burnt ends tucked into a hearty vegetable soup. But the wackiest addition to the menu is the Bar-B-Que Sundae, a 3-layered concoction of hickory-smoked pit beans, creamy coleslaw and juicy pulled pork served in a mason jar with a pickle and extra BBQ sauce on top.

Winslows BBQ
Winslows BBQ has been a Kansas City staple since 1971 with its characteristic dry-rub barbecued brisket and ribs. All of the menu items are served without sauce so you can customize for your own spicy, smoky and sweet desires. The Pig Out platter is a hearty combo of ribs, pork, ham and sausage with fries and a side of your choice including beans, coleslaw, potato salad or corn casserole.

Danny Edwards
Danny Edwards comes from a great line of grill masters. His dad opened his first BBQ shop during the Great Depression and moved it to Kansas City in 1938. Since getting into the business himself, Danny has moved around a bit, but 2 things have stayed the same -- his family's beloved recipes and the pink concrete pig that greets visitors outside. Danny woos diners with first-rate, hand-cut smoked meats and BBQ classics including a Southern-style pulled-pork sandwich and a platter of burnt ends, the highly desirable crispy smoked edges from a beef brisket.

Gates Bar-B-Q
Gates Bar-B-Q makes a mean barbecue, but the restaurant's true legacy is its sauce, which has been sold in grocery stores since the 1970s. Today the sauce line-up includes the original sauce as well as variations including mild, sweet and mild and extra-hot. There are 6 locations throughout the Midwest, including some outside of Kansas City, where diners can indulge in smoked 'cue doused in sweet and smoky goodness.

SERVES 18 to 20 1. In a cast-iron pot, combine beans, brown sugar, molasses, rib seasoning, barbecue sauce, and liquid smoke. 2. Cook on the grill, stirring occasionally, until hardened ?crust? form on top of beans (approximately 20 minutes). SPECIAL THANKS Ollie Gates Gates Bar-B-Q Kansas City, MO Posted to bbq-digest by "Keith Orr" on Jul 29, 1999,


View line-by-line Nutrition Insights&trade: Discover which ingredients contribute the calories/sodium/etc.

Disclaimer: Nutrition facts are derived from linked ingredients (shown at left in colored bullets) and may or may not be complete. Always consult a licensed nutritionist or doctor if you have a nutrition-related medical condition.

Calories per serving: 245

Get detailed nutrition information, including item-by-item nutrition insights, so you can see where the calories, carbs, fat, sodium and more come from.

Watch the video: The Profit Solution Reviews: Gates BBQ, Kansas City, MO (July 2022).


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