Gates Bar-B-Q

Worth a detour

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.

What to Eat
Gates Bar-B-Q, Slab
The ribs at Gates are among the smokier specimens you'll find in Kansas City.
Gates Bar-B-Q, Beef/Burnt Ends Combo Sandwich
Beef/Burnt Ends Combo Sandwich
Burnt ends at Gates really are the fatty trimmings from the smoked beef. If that sounds like your kind of thing (it's ours!), you'll enjoy these. This sandwich actually includes a portion of regular sliced smoked beef.
Gates Bar-B-Q, Pitcher of Boulevard Ale
Pitcher of Boulevard Ale
Perhaps the biggest bargain in the house: a big pitcher of local, and excellent, Boulevard ale for $6.25.
Potato Salad
Cole Slaw
Gates Bar-B-Q, Gates Yammer Pie
Gates Yammer Pie
The single-serving "Yammer" pie is very sweet, and very good.
Directions and Hours
open now
Sunday11am - 12am
Monday11am - 12am
Tuesday11am - 12am
Wednesday11am - 12am
Thursday11am - 12am
Friday11am - 1am
Saturday11am - 1am
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Milton’s Cafe

    Lawrence, Kansas

    In cozy Lawrence, Kansas, Milton’s Cafe is the place to go for breakfast — a nice range of traditional diner fare and modern brunch.

  • Caffetteria

    Prairie Village, Kansas

    Modern cafe meets marketplace at this new Prairie Village spot for breakfast, dessert, and everything in between.

  • Winstead’s

    Kansas City, Missouri

    Winstead’s smooshes patties of fresh, coarsely-ground beef on the cooktop, creating thin hamburgers with crisp edges. A Kansas City favorite.

  • L C’s Bar-B-Q

    Kansas City, Missouri

    LC’s is one of the great BBQ restaurants in Kansas City. The legendary burnt ends sandwich is immense. Fresh-cut French fries are first rate.

  • Stroud’s

    Kansas City, Missouri

    Does Stroud’s of Kansas City serve the best fried chicken anywhere? With from-scratch fixins, too, from soup and mashed potatoes to sweet cinnamon rolls.

  • Eden Alley

    Kansas City, Missouri

    Kansas City’s superb vegetarian restaurant, Eden Alley is a big, open dining room (& outdoor patio) staffed with people for whom The Right Food is a mission.