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.