Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City: 9 Spots Where Tony Ate

Kansas City is known for many things: barbecue, jazz heritage, and beautiful fountains are chief among them. If you had to guess which one of those things Anthony Bourdain is most interested in visiting to experience, what would you think? Barbecue, of course!

Anthony Bourdain visited Kansas City to film season 2 (episode 7, “The BBQ Triangle”) of A Cook’s Tour, and season 8 (episode 3) of No Reservations; these were his only two visits to Kansas City, but show off the city’s incredible barbecue offerings… and that’s just about it!

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City Hero

Whether you’re planning a trip to KCMO or are just researching all the spots that Tony ate, this guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City will help. Below you’ll find a list of the places Bourdain loved in this part of the American Heartland – including the one place he thought worth returning to.

Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Kansas City?
The A Cook’s Tour episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV and the No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Washtáge Moⁿzháⁿ (Kaw / Kansa), 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Where Anthony Bourdain ate in Kansas City

Before jumping into the list of places Tony Bourdain ate in Kansas City, I thought it might be helpful to use a map to show where all of the places are – as you can see, he ate in a variety of neighborhoods around the city.

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City Map
Click to interact with the map.

Using that map to get oriented, now let’s go through each of the places Tony ate, during each of his visits to film there.

A Cook’s Tour (2002)

As mentioned, Bourdain’s first trip to Kansas City occurred as part of “The BBQ Triangle;” in addition to KCMO, he also spent time in Houston and North Carolina during that episode. As such, there aren’t many spots in Kansas City to cover – in fact, there’s just one!

Oklahoma Joe’s

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - Carolina Pork Sandwich

On the hunt to end the debate on who has the best BBQ (Texas, Kansas/Missouri, or North Carolina) Bourdain starts his quest at a Kansas City gas station/liquor and convenience store/BBQ hybrid, Oklahoma Joe’s.

Meeting up with Executive Director of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, Caroline Wells, She and Tony try the Carolina Pork Sandwich that is topped with creamy coleslaw and a side of French fries. Next, specifically for Tony, the cooks gather up some burnt ends, which is the crispier, charred outer crust of a Brisket that is then diced up and served.

Tony regards Oklahoma Joe’s as his favorite spot in Kansas City, that serves dishes with “flavor up the yin-yang.” 

No Reservations (2011)

Returning to focus on Kansas City, Bourdain returns almost a decade later to eat, well, more barbecue. But at least he tries a lot more places this time!

Oklahoma Joe’s

With respect to famous Kansas City barbecue joints like Arthur Bryant’s and Gate’s Barbecue, Bourdain decides to skip the well-known spots and revisit his favorite Barbecue spot, Oklahoma Joe’s.

This time around, Tony gets the burnt end plate again, as well as the smoked chicken halves, long-end pork ribs, and a pulled pork plate. Oklahoma Joe’s also offers a variety of different barbecue sauces to add (or not) to your meats that range from sweet to acidic to spicy. 

Jack Stack Barbecue

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - BBQ Platter

After a few bourbons and draft beers with Bourdain’s good friend, Zamir Gotta, they order a dish of barbecued beef short-rib, pork ribs, and lamb ribs in every variety of cut possible. Jack Stack Barbecue is a perfect spot if you are looking for a more family-friendly, clean, and slightly more elevated Barbecue restaurant. 

LC’s Bar-B-Q

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - Brisket Sandwich

With the smoking pit directly behind the ordering counter, LC’s offers roots-style barbecue with a focus on ribs and burnt ends. Tony goes for the brisket sandwich, a mountain of sliced brisket and LC’s barbecue sauce stuffed between two slices of white bread, as well as an order of burnt ends with thick-cut potato wedges, because, who wouldn’t? 

(Schloegel’s) Woodyard Barbecue

Accompanied by one of the most popular blues rock bands of modern times, The Black Keys, Bourdain drops into Woodyard Barbecue, a restaurant and firewood vendor that has been providing food for Kansas City barbecue enthusiasts since 1913.

Cooked over mainly apple and cherry wood pits, Tony goes for the ribs, smoked chicken wings, and of course, the brisket burnt ends. 

B.B.’s Lawnside Grill

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - Burnt Ends BBQ

Bourdain meets up with good friend Zamir Gotta and local Kansas City expert, Terrence O’Malley, to discuss Kansas City’s seedy mobster past and the history of blues music and barbecue in the region. They all share plates of the “indeed awesome” pork ribs at B.B.’s Lawnside Grill, a huge helping of smoked catfish with lemon slices, and a plate of burnt ends drizzled with barbecue sauce.

Savoy Grill

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - Steak & Baked Potato

Although it is now closed for business, Savoy Grill was a truly historical place to visit in Kansas City, operated from 1903-2016. Tony sat down in Harry S. Truman’s own reserved booth to look over the extensive menu that had dishes that he hasn’t seen on menus in “nearly 30 years.”

After a walk down memory lane, he decides to play it safe and go with the steak and baked potato with sour cream. 

Rosedale Barbeque

Since 1934, Rosedale Barbeque has been cooking some of the most sought-after meats in Kansas City barbecue. Bourdain goes with the brisket sandwich on thick Texas Toast, and a bowl of their “Cheesy Potato Bake” side, while Zamir gets the Rosedale special, The “Flying Pig,” a sandwich with half a chicken and three pork ribs.

If you are looking for some spice with your barbecue, Tony claims that out of all the barbecue he has had in Kansas City, Rosedale offers the spiciest barbecue sauce.

The Cigar Box & Bistro

Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City - Bourbon

On the hunt for a nightcap, Tony and Zamir stop at The Cigar Box for some lounge-singing entertainment and a couple of bourbon cocktails. The residential singer here, Al Latta, provides entertainment every night, entertainment so good that Bourdain even wanted him to “come to his birthday party.”

Town-Topic Hamburgers

Much like Tony’s beloved, Waffle House, Town-Topic Hamburgers is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing a haven for drunkards and night owls to fill their stomachs with a nice, greasy burger.

Bourdain gets their classic cheeseburger, smashed with caramelized grilled onions, pickles, and a drizzle of ketchup with an ice-cold cup of root beer to wash it down.

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kansas City? Let me know in the comments below!

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Ricky has worked off and on in the restaurant industry since high school, filling positions from host to line cook to sous chef all in California and Kentucky. He has always had a desire for food and travel, so discovering Anthony’s writings and shows years back was like meeting a great new friend.

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