Award-winning Barbecue That Satisfies in North Kansas City

Published by Pete Dulin on

Smokin Guns BBQ

The awards only tell part of the story for Smokin’ Guns BBQ in North Kansas City. Phil and Linda Hopkins entered their first barbecue contest in 1997 and began accruing awards within a few years. Their crowning achievement on the multi-state circuit was earning the title of grand champion at the 1999 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue Contest. They competed against 41 teams. When the smoke cleared, they won first place for best brisket, second place in pork, fourth in desserts, and finished fifth in ribs. 

Bolstered by their success, the Hopkins opened Smokin’ Guns BBQ & Catering in 2003. Phil left his 14-year career as a supervisor at a metal fabrication plant. Three years later, Linda left her job of 25 years as a technical writer to work with her husband. For more than 15 years, they have served ribs, meats, and more to Greater Kansas City from their NKC restaurant. The Hopkins also launched a line of rubs that enhance the flavor of smoked meats and other foods. 

Photo Credit: Robert Hoops

The face of the restaurant is hard to miss from Swift Street. Two large pistols are displayed on the building’s wall above the front door. The signage practically declares that it’s a sure shot guests will appease their hankering for solid Kansas City-style barbecue. In addition to hundreds of local guests served over the years, larger-than-life Food Network personality Guy Fieri visited Smokin’ Guns as part of his Kansas City Barbeque tour show. Fieri chowed on the Triple D plate, an ample assortment of burnt ends, brisket, and turkey served with three side dishes, bread, and pickles. 

Hearty appetites might opt for the Big Gun Combo Platter. Or split this mighty plate loaded with four baby back ribs and a choice of three other meats (beef brisket, ham, turkey, pulled pork, or Italian sausage). Wait, there’s more. The platter includes three side dishes, bread, and pickles. 

Sandwiches come in large and regular sizes with the option of adding two side dishes. 

Standing Out in the Crowd

Smokin’ Guns’ menu offers more variety than many of the barbecue joints throughout Kansas City. Appetizers include sliced portobello mushrooms, fried pickles, smoked wings, and Christian’s pork belly bites. The latter dish features bite-size pieces of pork belly smoked for five hours, fried to order. Then they dust it with hot rub spices, and serve it up crisp. It’s indulgent. 

Rib lovers can steer toward baby back or spare ribs available by the half slab or whole rack. Other plates include a half or quarter chicken, or famed Kansas City burnt ends that have been seasoned with Smokin’ Guns BBQ Rub and smoked for about 15 hours. That’s roughly triple the time you’ll want to set aside for a nap after plowing through a feast at Smokin’ Guns. 

Not content to serve the basics found elsewhere, Smokin’ Guns also serves specialties such as smoked fish plate of salmon or catfish replete with two side dishes, a dinner roll or cornbread, and a pickle. The menu offers an expansive range of side dishes beyond the standard beans and coleslaw, including sweet potato fries, broccoli casserole, green beans, mac and cheese bites, corn nuggets, fried green beans, and much more. Once a month, they arrange a multi-course Beer Dinner with a local or national beer brewer and pair each course with a different beer from their featured guest.

Photo credit: Robert Hoops

Smokin’ Guns menu items may also be ordered to go if you need to get in quickly and make a quick getaway back to the office, family gathering, or event. Or, rather than haul food to feed a crowd, Smokin’ Guns has 1,800 square feet of event space. Throw a party for 80 people in Hopkins Hall outfitted with a full bar and private bathrooms. 

Smokin’ Guns BBQ & Catering
1218 Swift St, North Kansas City, MO 64116

Hawg Jaw Que and Brew

Originally based in Riverside, brothers Sam and Nick Silvio moved Hawg Jaw Que & Brew to North Kansas City in 2017. Hawg Jaw is next-door to Big Rip Brewing Company, where guests in the taproom may order from a digital kiosk. The barbecue joint is decorated with signs and memorabilia related to cars, beer, and music. Guests enter the front door, and walk up the ramp or climb a few steps to the counter. 

Photo Credit: Claire Gibson

Hawg Jaw has earned recognition in 2012 by The Pitch as Kansas City’s Best New BBQ. Appetizers include loaded fries as well as BBQ nachos, each topped with a choice of brisket or pulled pork. Cheese, jalapeños, chipotle sour cream, green onions, and diced red peppers round out the dish. Smoked wings may be ordered with traditional, barbecue, or plain options. 

For Every Sized Appetite

The Working Folks Special, available 11 am to 4 pm, includes a sandwich with a small side, soft drink and choice of meat: brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, ham, turkey, or sausage. Add another small side for a couple of bucks. 

Hawg Jaw offers a convenient way to manage the problem of your eyes being bigger than your stomach. Stock sandwiches with the same meat options above are available in multiple sizes – small (4 oz. meat), medium (6 oz.), and large (8 oz.) sizes. Sauces include sweet Kansolina, Mammaw’s Spicy with prominent cinnamon and flaked black pepper, and smoked ketchup. Half and whole rack rib dinners may be ordered with or without a side. 

For less than $20, the Hawg Trough sampler sets you up with a sample of all meats, plus a regular side of beans, potato salad or Buffalo Coleslaw. Specialties offer something fresh from the standard fare found at most barbecue joints. For example, the Irish Hawg marries smoked corned beef and smoked sausage with swiss cheese, spicy sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on toasted marble rye. For a lighter bite, the Slaw Dog piles pulled pork and Buffalo coleslaw on an all-beef hot dog. In the mood for a French Dip? Hawg Jaw’s version takes shaved and smoked prime rib, adds a layer of Swiss cheese, and packs it into a toasted hoagie. Dip that sammie in smokey au jus with one hand and dab the drippings with a napkin in the other. 

Photo credit: Claire Gibson

Sides include beans, Buffalo coleslaw, cheesy corn, onion rings, and fries. Hawg Jaw also has numerous craft and domestic beers available to wash down a meal. 

Hawg Jaw Que & Brew
900 Swift St, North Kansas City, MO 64116

Categories: Food

Pete Dulin

Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer who covers food, craft beer, wine, and business. His work has appeared in Zócalo Public Square, NPR, Feast, The Kansas City Star, River Front Times, Visit KC, Flatland, The Boston Globe, Thinking Bigger, and many other publications. He is the author of Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries Across the Heart of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, and KC Ale Trail.