There are many areas of the country where you can find great barbecue, but there’s something special about Kansas City.
One of the reasons Kansas City stands out is the high concentration of amazing barbecue restaurants we have in a relatively small area. Today, there are over 100 area barbecue establishments, each boasting its personal house specialty – ribs, pork, ham, mutton, sausage and even fish.
But few people know that the Kansas City barbecue tradition actually started with a man named Henry Perry in the 1920’s. Perry had a stand in downtown Kansas City where he served smoked meats to nearby workers. Using an outdoor pit, the man who is simply known today as the “The Barbecue King,” sold slow-smoked meats wrapped in newspaper for 25 cents in the Garment District.
Perry’s stand was an instant success and the barbecue trend quickly caught on. He later opened what many people believe was the first barbecue restaurant of its kind in North America. The restaurant, a converted trolley barn, quickly emerged as the city’s major cultural point during the 1920s and 30s.
Over a period of more than 100 years, the city generated its own style of barbecue, which is commonly known today as Kansas City barbecue. Often described as the “world’s barbecue capital,” Kansas City is home to large, well-attended barbecue cooking contests – the two most notable being in nearby Lenexa, Kansas and at the American Royal.
Barbecue in Kansas City is more than just a menu item or a method of preparation. It’s an institution, rich with history and culinary tradition that has shaped the city’s dining landscape since the early 1900s. For decades, visitors from across the globe have traveled here, drawn by the smoky aroma, just to get a sample of KC’s acclaimed cuisine.
~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City Missorui