Guest Post: Kansas City BBQ: Jack Stack on the Plaza

Guest Post by KC Food Girl

Ask me where to find the best BBQ in the country and I will tell you, without any hesitation, that it’s in Kansas City. Now I realize that’s a pretty bold statement but I stand behind my word. Since my husband and I moved here in the summer of 2007, we’ve tried just about every BBQ establishment within a reasonable driving distance from us and I have to say that my favorite, so far, is Jack Stack. Whenever I’m craving good Kansas City BBQ, Jack Stack is the first thing that comes to mind. With a reasonably priced menu and several locations throughout the metro, it’s a major contender, for sure.


Driving to the restaurant, I was ready for a great dinner and, like they always do, Jack Stack impressed me. My husband, Tim, and I decided to forgo our usual fare to try a dish meant for sharing: The Roundup. This particular dish comes with a very generous serving of spare ribs, sliced beef, pork and ham (though we asked the server to substitute the ham for an extra helping of the ribs, they are absolutely phenomenal). We figured this would give us each the opportunity to try out a few new things. I was not disappointed.

I usually opt for one of their two meat platters (burnt ends, my favorite, and sausage) so I was, naturally, a little nervous to switch out my safe bet choice for something I’d never tried before. Ultimately, it was a wise decision. The meat was tender, perfectly prepared and had just the right amount of their well balanced, sweet sauce. I’m not much of a rib person (Tim is, hands down) but they were just incredible. Biting into one of their mouth watering ribs, it was obvious to me that Jack Stack takes pride in how they prepare their food. Using hickory-fired brick ovens, the restaurant cooks their meat to perfection. The natural taste of the meat is perfectly paired with a hearty helping of their slow cooked baked beans (another of my favorites in KC). Needless to say, we had another great experience at one of Kansas City’s finest BBQ establishments. I can’t wait to see where our next adventure takes us…

3 responses to “Guest Post: Kansas City BBQ: Jack Stack on the Plaza

  1. OK….
    First the good stuff: Jack Stack is probably where Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble used to go for their bbq. These are table-tipping portions. You need to cancel all of your meals for the next 36 hours.

    Then the bad:
    Jack Stack is a bbq joint for people that really don't want to go for bbq.

    If I was in KC and it came time to choose a restaurant for a group to eat at, I'd suggest Jack Stack if I felt that they wanted something “nice” and “safe.” “Try Macaroni Grill,” I might say, “or P.F. Chaings. Or Jack Stack.”

    Jack Stack has more in common with those kind of places: banquettes, vaulted ceilings, soft lighting, thoughtful decor, heavy silverware, waiters.

    It doesn't have much in common with the KC bbq spirit. At Bryant's, for instance, there's no waiter. “Short or long?” is about the only question. There is so much noise. Wine list? At Gates: “May I helppppp you!!!!” You pretty much have to cover your ears. Thoughtful, no. Oklahoma Joes is in a gas station. 'Nuf said.

    Jack Stack is for everyone that has heard that bbq is fun, but that doesn't want to go down to Brooklyn Ave. and get so dirty with all of that grease and that whole “all kinds of people” thing.

    I remember when Jack Stack became popular. All of my friends with European sedans (especially the Volvo drivers) suddenly started saying how much they liked it. It was as if there was a widespread sense of relief out there…now there is a bbq restaurant that feels comfortable. You know what I mean?

    Let me provide some supporting evidence..

    a) Jack Stack serves salmon. There is no crying in baseball. There is no salmon in bbq. Also no Chilean sea bass and no sushi. Catfish is fine.
    b) Jack Stack has menu items for as high as $29. No, wait, $33. Come on. BBQ is for the people. This is Kansas City. Bryant's has shorts for $11, $13 for fries. Half loaf of white bread: $1.50.
    c) Jack Stack has private dining rooms. See above, bbq is for the people. Democracy, not oligarchy.
    d) Jack Stack has a wine list. Come on. “Sir, I recommend pairing your ribs with a delightful pinot noir, maybe something from the Willamette Valley. Very good selection, sir.”
    e) They have too many sauces. There are four sauce choices.
    f) They accept American Express.

    Don't wait your trip to Kansas City with a visit to a bbq restaurant that could be in an upscale mall in Connecticut.

  2. I understand what you're trying to say about Jack Stack being more upscale than Bryants, Oklahoma Joe's and Gates but I respectfully disagree with you. I don't think that their atmosphere, in any way, takes away from how good the food is.

    So what if they also happen to serve salmon and wine…does that mean the quality of their meat suffers as a result?! Absolutely not. Yes, it's more expensive than your standard BBQ joint in KC but when we're looking for a nice place to eat and we're in the mood for BBQ, Jack Stack is the first thing that comes to mind.

    Having said that, I also really love Arthur Bryant's BBQ…it's a place I go when I want something quick, greasy and oh so good…not so much a place I would go for an event such as a birthday or a nice sit down dinner.

  3. MIKE,
    I didn't get to all the places in KC last time I was there, but I did hit Jack Stack, got their sauce, and was pleased. I got a two way meat sampler and cheesy corn and something else on the side… Ummm I think fries!

    I thought the sauces were OK, although I stuck with the spicy tomato-based one for most of my dinner.

    Great write-up and pics!

    BBQ Sauce Reviews

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