Kansas City Connection: New barbecue joints worth making a pit stop

The “Kansas City as barbecue capital” narrative is nothing new, and you’ve seen it propagated in this column more than once. I’d put it to rest except that fantastic barbecue joints keep popping up in Kansas City, each with its own take on smoked meats, sauces and flavor combinations, as well as unique identities and dining environments.


At 1000 W. 39th St. near Southwest Trafficway, the new Q39 BBQ offers classic barbecue dishes, an inventive appetizer list, burgers, steaks and cocktails. It’s worth trying some of their special offerings, such as the “No Jackin’ Around,” a sandwich with pulled pork, jalapeno jack cheese and toasted bread, the q39 spiced onion straws appetizer, or the house-made chipotle sausage.

While not quite as formal as Jack’s Stack, Q39 offers a more upscale dining experience than your typical barbecue joint, with table service, dim lighting and tasty, handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant emerged from pitmaster Rob Magee’s 12-year tenure with his award-winning barbecue team, The Munchin’ Hogs, and it’s a tasty, inviting option for anyone looking for a relaxed yet refined barbecue outing.

You’ll spend a little more at Q39 than, say, Gates, but it’s a cozy place to hang out and visit even after the food’s gone.

Jon Russell’s BBQ

Closer to Lawrence is Jon Russell’s BBQ, a micro-smokehouse and restaurant that also emerged from a battle-tested barbecue team whose competitive decorations date back to 1990. Jon Russell’s specialties are burnt ends, pulled pork, ribs and sausage with a small arsenal of trademarked sauces that will linger on your tongue for days.

Try the pulled pork with one of the four fruit-tinged sauces (cherry chipotle, pineapple poblano, blueberry jalapeno or raspberry jalapeno), or try the smokin’ ghost sauce for more kick. The honey and spice sauce is good on everything.


Jon Russell’s BBQ has four locations, including this one inside the 39th Street Market convenience store at 1850 W. 39th St.

In addition to the sandwich menu (and extensive children’s menu), you can get a Grand Champion’s Platter for $13.49 that includes three meats and two sides. I opted for cheesy corn and southwestern potato salad, with an extra side of fries. All of it was delicious.

Jon Russell’s South is located at 12094 W. 135th St. in Overland Park, and the East location is at 13145 State Line Road. Jon Russell’s food is also served for lunch at a 39th Street Market convenience store counter at 1850 W. 39th St. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and also inside the Prairie Market Convenience Store at 9350 Renner Road in Lenexa (limited takeout menu only).

Holiday shows

Overlooked in last week’s holiday guide are several ongoing and upcoming stage performances.

For the wee folk, there is a musical performance of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” at the Coterie Theatre, running now through Jan. 4. The hour-long show is recommended for elementary-age children and their families. Unfortunately tickets are only available for shows Dec. 26 and after, so visit coterietheatre.org now to get tickets, which cost $12 for kids and $17 for adults.

Tickets are on sale now for The Santaland Diaries, the humorous one-man show written by David Sedaris about his misguided experience working as a Macy’s elf. The show opens on Dec. 6 and runs most evenings through Dec. 24. The Santaland Diaries will be at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre Copaken Stage downtown. Tickets cost $20 to $48 at kcrep.org.


Music fans will have some good options to ring in the Thanksgiving weekend, with a Wednesday night concert from Johnny Marr (the legendary guitarist of The Smiths and Modest Mouse), part of 96.6 The Buzz’s Homegrown For The Holidays event at The Midland.

The concert, which also features Meredith Sheldon, Roman Numerals and Late Night Callers, starts at 7 p.m. and is free with a can of food or non-perishable item.

Also on Wednesday is Springfield, Mo., group Ha Ha Tonka, which puts on a raucous pre-Thanksgiving show each year at the Record Bar. Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $15 at therecordbar.com.

— Lucas Wetzel is a writer and editor from Kansas City, Mo. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.


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