Arthur Bryant’s | Legendary BBQ At Its Best In Kansas City

Review by: Michael Stern

Historic BBQ

Arthur Bryant, the grand old man of Kansas City barbecue, passed away in 1982, but his business — and its reputation — have grown and thrived ever since. His heirs, bless them, never went upscale. This legendary BBQ remains a cafeteria-style lunch room with all the decorative charm of a bus station.

Yes, it’s had its ups and downs over the years. But a 2021 visit by Roadfood’s Buffetbuster confirmed that the BBQ parlor that’s the Daddy of ’em All still rules. He wrote, “I am more than a little surprised to tell you that the best BBQ we had during a weekend in Kansas City was at Arthur Bryant’s. We’ve had a few pedestrian meals here over the years, but today they knocked it out of the park.”

Taste from Texas

Arthur Bryant originally came from Texas, so it stands to reason that his brisket is superb. It is tender and fatty enough to fairly drip flavor. The cutters slice it into fallapart lengths that get heaped into white-bread sandwiches. If you come as a large party or with a superhuman appetite, order it by the pound. Get some white bread and you can make your own sandwiches at the table.

It’s All  Good

Pork ribs are wonderful, too, glazed with blackened burnt edges and spicy crust, but with butter-tender pork below. The slightest tooth-tug easily separates rib meat from its bone. Beyond ribs and brisket, Bryant’s pit produces ham, turkey, sausage, and pulled or sliced pork. And burnt ends. About these, Buffetbuster wrote, “Burnt ends are fatty by nature and so much flavor comes from that fat. Yet somehow these managed to be lean and every bit as flavorful. And those dark, crusty, chewy ends were about as good as it gets.”

Skin-on French fries are bronze beauties and the goopy barbecue beans are some of Kansas City’s best. Other side dish choices: slaw, pickles, potato casserole, potato salad, onion rings.

Sacred Sauce

Good as the meats and side dishes are, Arthur Bryant’s unique sauce demands special attention. It is beautiful sauce, a gritty, red-orange blend of spice and sorcery that is not at all sweet like most Midwestern barbecue sauces. Once you’ve tasted this legendary BBQ sauce, you’ll have a gold standard against which to measure all others.

What To Eat




Meat Tray

French Fries


Arthur Bryant’s | Legendary BBQ At Its Best In Kansas City Recipes


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2 Responses to “Arthur Bryant’s | Legendary BBQ At Its Best In Kansas City”

Holly Ulrich

January 11th, 2006

It was our third visit to Arthur Bryant’s. I had the ribs (short ends). Incredible. Not much for the price, but boy are they tender! Beef and pork sandwiches are outstanding and are unbelievable bargains. I swear one sandwich could feed four. Be sure to try all the sauces on the table.

All is good here – why else we would stop twice on a cross-country road trip.


J Scott Love

November 24th, 2005

I’ve been dining at Arthur Bryant’s since 1969. Calvin Trillin, writing in the April 1972 issue of Playboy, proclaimed that Arthur Bryant’s was the “single best restaurant in the world.” I agree with this assessment.

My favorite item on the menu is a barbecued beef sandwich with fries. The beef is sliced from brisket that has been hickory smoked for 13 hours. The sandwich is a half pound of beef brushed with Bryant’s distinctive tangy sauce on white bread. Trillin also states that the fries “are undoubtedly the best French-fried potatoes in the world” since they are cooked in pure lard. The food is served up cafeteria style on Melmac plates. Cold draught beer is served in frozen mugs.

The 1940’s & 50’s style decor hasn’t changed since Trillin’s 1972 article: Formica table tops, tile floor & white painted walls. Huge jugs of barbecue sauce are kept in the front window. Pictures of old Kansas City scenes, famous patrons, framed newpaper and magazine articles declaring Bryant’s greatness and letters of praise from customers adorn the walls. Famous patrons pictured include president Jimmy Carter, Steven Spielberg and Sally Field.

Arthur Bryant’s now has two other locations in additon to the original at 1727 Brooklyn, Kansas City: One at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, MO and one at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. The quality of the food at these locations is just as good as the original.


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