Review by: Michael Stern

Snead’s lists so many good things on its menu that it is impossible to sample all of them in one visit. One must-eat is brownies, also known as burnt ends, which are the crusty, smoky chunks stripped from the ends and tips of the meat. Order a sandwich or a plateful. They aren’t as soft as the ordinary barbecue, but they fairly explode with the flavor of meat and smoke.

Regular pork barbecue, cooked in a kettle in a brick pit over hickory wood, is sweet and tender, sliced thin, without the punch of brownies but with aristocratic character. Beef brisket is shockingly fatless, and yet somehow supple and luscious, extra-good if you add some of Snead’s fine sauce. Then there are log sandwiches, named for their shape: tubular mixtures of finely ground barbecued beef, pork and ham, all minced together and wedged into a long bun (or, if you wish, a round roll). The result is a salty, powerful melange vaguely reminiscent of a Maid-Rite sandwich — not as potent as burnt ends, but in some long-term satisfying way, even more complex.

Did we mention hand-cut, freshly-made French fries? And four-star barbecued beans? And finely-chopped cole slaw, perfectly suited to salve a sauce-fatigued tongue?

Snead’s is a wood-paneled roadhouse with a magnificent giant oak tree in the parking lot and laminated tables inside. The dining room has windows that look out onto what is still countryside, far from the downtown core. It’s a bit of a drive out of town, but Snead’s is required eating for anyone who wants to savor Kansas City’s pit-cooked BBQ at its best.

What To Eat

Burnt End Plate


3 Meat Plate

Pork Plate


Snead’s Recipes


What do you think of Snead’s?

One Response to “Snead’s”

Doug Richards

August 18th, 2008

Having been raised in the Midwest I like to think I know a thing or two about barbecue, and I’m here to testify that Snead’s is a totally unique and glorious experience.

The dining room is exactly what you would hope for: a true “joint” with a surprisingly young waitstaff that looks like they all grew up together and really enjoy working with each other. Many of the Saturday night patrons were clearly in the friends-and-family category. The walls are paneled in Missouri pine (so the story is told on the back of the menu) and display an assortment of farm art. An interesting twist, one of many that makes Snead’s unique.

The BBQ is “real country.” No meat sees any sauce and I suspect they use little in the way of a rub short of some salt and pepper. This is a true slow and low hickory BBQ that relies on the quality of the meat and smoke room flavor to make its mark. Sauce is served on the side (the hot is one of the best I’ve tasted) but it only needs to be used on the fries.

My wife and I split the four item combo for $14.95; the same plate at Jack Stack in Martin City, about five miles up the road, would run closer to $25. We chose ribs, brisket, turkey, and beef brownies (burnt ends). The pickles, toast, meats, and fries were piled so high that the plate was overflowing. The ribs were pink to the bone, a clear indication that they were slow smoked. The brisket and brownies were both fantastic but the surprising star of the show was the turkey. I typically get my smoked turkey from Fritz’s but Snead’s may give them a run for their money. The meat was moist, full of flavor, and sliced razor thin.

The pit beans were awesome and very original. They are almost a hybrid of a Carolina pit bean (lots of smoke) and a Kansas City bean (slow in a pot with lots of BBQ sauce). There is a surprising delicate balance between sweetness and smoke that makes the dish really stand out.

All in all I would recommend Snead’s to anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind family dining experience. They have a three beer limit (which left me thirsty) and if I could improve one thing it would be to have a real honky-tonk band playing in the back room, preferably behind a chicken wire fence (and of course someone would have to play a moonshine jug). Then I think you could say the experience would be perfect.


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