The Great Kansas Barbecue Quest | Midwest Living

The Great Kansas Barbecue Quest

There’s a kick to the cuisine in Kansas. Sassy sauces, slow-cooked meats and a history of doing it right make barbecue an experience, not just a meal. Taste the rich legacy as you travel the state. Chances are, you'll find a barbecue restaurant, festival or cook-off is within range.

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    Wichita mayor Carl Brewer is a veteran barbecue competitor.
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    Guy & Mae's Tavern in Williamsburg.
  • 3
    Delano's, Wichita.

Sampling the Competition

Restaurants are just one part of the Kansas barbecue scene. Smoky meats and saucy secrets turn competitive at cook-offs held throughout the year in parks, fairgrounds and racetracks (a sampling follows). There’s always an open invitation to attend. Bring a big appetite—you’ll get to taste some of the best barbecue around.

Annual Barbecue/Backyard BBQ Contest, Dodge City (late July) The famed gun-slinging Wild West town is an appropriate setting for dueling smoke masters. (620) 227-3119; dodgecitydays.com/barbeque.html

Battle of the Brisket, Mission (mid-September) Smokers take over a town that was a stopping point for covered wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. (913) 671-8564; missioncvb.org

Brew, Blues & Bar-B-Q, Lansing (early May) It doesn’t get much better than live blues and championship barbecue. Coinciding with the Lansing Daze Festival, there’s also family fun. (913) 727-3233; lansing.ks.us

Flint Hills Beef Fest, Emporia (mid-August) A cook-off is a natural (so is a rodeo) at this big celebration of the Kansas cattle industry. (620) 344-3849; beeffest.com

Great American Barbecue Festival, Kansas City (mid-May) With a carnival and fireworks combined with the activities, this Memorial Day weekend celebration is a sizzling start to summer. (913) 422-9599; thinkbbq.com

Great Lenexa Barbecue Battle, Lenexa (late June) This event started with 12 contestants. Two decades later, the contest attracts nearly 200 competitors from across the country. (913) 477-7500; lenexa.com

Kansas Winter Q, Great Bend (mid-February) A sauce-tasting fund-raiser chases away the winter blues. (620) 793-2985; chesttochest.com/winterq

McLouth BBQ Blowout, McLouth (early June) The backyard barbecue division is a great starting point for novices. (913) 796-6122; cityofmclouth.org

Smoke in the Spring, Osage City (mid-April) Categories in this state-designated championship range from brisket to dessert. (785) 528-4610; smokeinthespring.com

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