Snead’s Bar-B-Que: Brisket, Beef Brownies and More in Belton

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Barbecue Sign Kansas City

Snead's pig topped sign serves as a barbecue beacon in the Kansas City metro area.

Snead’s Bar-B-Que is out in the country, over a half-hour south of Kansas City. A short distance, considering I was on a mission. Michael Stern, one of my restaurant gurus (though he probably doesn’t know it) recently described Snead’s as his “favorite of all Kansas City barbecues.” Suddenly thirty miles sounded like a city block.

According to the menu, “Snead’s Bar-B-Que was opened on November 1, 1956, on the Northwest corner of Bill Snead’s farm. Bill Snead designed and constructed both the building and the Brick Bar-B-Que pit… With the passing of Mr. Snead in 1994, Mrs. Snead and her family are continuing the tradition of providing hickory smoked meats from the old fashioned brick pit.” My waiter, Eric, informed me that Mr. Snead’s daughter, Beverly Kircher, is currently the woman in charge. Eric is a barbecue aficionado. He said his family’s eaten at Snead’s for years, and it produces his favorite ‘cue in the area. He chose to work there to eat it on a regular basis, which speaks loudly about Snead’s impact.

Barbecue Kansas City

The Snead family name is pressed into a white wall outside the building, by the parking lot.

Taxidermy Kansas City

Snead’s funky interior featured plenty of mounted deer heads and my favorite incongruous touch: snow shoes.

Taxidermy Kansas City

I was a little sad to see this stuffed Canadian goose. I’m no animal rights activist, but I used to feed bread to Canadian geese at Loantaka when I was a kid. Since I have no such qualms about devouring pig and cow, I proceeded to eat plenty of both animals.

Barbecue Kansas City

Considering the entrance is so kitschy, I expected more from the dining room than wall-mounted quilts and coat hangers. Thankfully, more thought went into the food than decor.

Nature Kansas City

Apparently Bill Snead’s animals used to roam free when his children were growing up. My idyllic view from the Snead’s dining room window let me picture that image.

Barbecue Kansas City

I ordered the “four kinds of meat” combination BBQ platter ($14.95), which I knew would be way too much food. Still, with so many enticing options, I couldn’t narrow it down. My four selections, from left to right: sliced brisket, pork spare ribs (under a heap of hand-cut, skin-on fries), pickles, ham brownies (a Kansas City original), beef brownies (known as burnt ends in Texas), and finely chopped cole slaw. Fries and cole slaw were sensational.

Barbecue Kansas City

Snead’s cooks their brisket for 14-18 hours over hickory. Thin slices resembled juicy pastrami, but smokier.

Ribs Kansas City

It was the chef’s choice what kind of ribs I’d receive, either from the “short end” or “long end.” If it’s from the short end, they’re baby backs. She selected spare ribs, from the “long end.” The pork ribs had nice bronzed crusts and were juicy. Unfortunately, since it was the end of the day, their crusts had become a little too chewy.

Snead’s beef brownies rivaled any burnt ends I ate in Texas. The chunks of caramelized brisket crusts were epic. The ham brownies were basically cubes of city ham, some with crispy crusts, some without. It was still ham, so it had its charms, but it certainly wasn’t on par with the beef.

Barbecue Sauce Kansas City

My server presented me with three squeeze bottles: ketchup and two kinds of barbecue sauce: mild (wrapped with a rubber band) and spicy. Orange sauce was spicier, grittier and pepper-flecked. Mild clearly contained ketchup and was a little too sweet.

Snead’s was a fun experience. It was worth a trip for the nice country drive, and for those stellar beef brownies. I also met a friendly couple while waiting for a table: Peter and Kathy, local buffalo farmers who were revisiting Snead’s for the first time in years. We were seated on opposite sides of the dining room, but reunited at the register. We were all won over. It was pretty clear it wouldn’t be their last trip to Snead’s. And if I’m lucky, it won’t be mine.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Great barbecue! The “hot” sauce is the best on planet earth. It isn’t really that “hot”, but spicy with lots of ground black pepper, celery seed, and “recycled” dill pickle juice! (You can buy it by the bottle, and those are the ingredients listed on the label. They don’t sell it anywhere else; only at the restaurant. Not in stores.) Several other barbecue places in the Kansas City area (I won’t list their names, but they know who they are!) try to “pattern” their food after the traditional standard set by Snead’s. “Imitation is the best form of flattery”, right!?

Sneads’ location, ‘way out in the country, makes it a great location for “stargazing” after a barbecue dinner. Remember that comet about ten years ago, I think it was called “Hale-Bopp” or something like that, and those crazies all committed suicide in California somewhere? Well, when the comet was most visible, for about two weeks, the parking lot at Snead’s was always full of barbecue-filled happy customers gazing in awe at the comet, above the west horizon, in the early evening! It was a great party!

John, What a great Snead’s remembrance. Thanks for sharing.

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