Big flavors come in a small red package

The Dart explores one of Kansas City’s only female-run barbecue establishments.


The menu of Jones BBQ, one of Kansas City’s only female-owned barbecue operations. photo by Katie Gregory

by Katie Gregory, Scheduling Editor of Web

Apparently, good barbecue can come from the most surprising places. At least, that’s what I learned subsequent to walking up to a little red shack housed in a small parking lot in Kansas City. In hindsight, I should’ve known better than to doubt any barbecue that comes from Kansas City.

Jones BBQ, located on Kaw Drive on the Kansas side of Kansas City, is one of KC’s only female-run barbecue establishments. It’s a tiny business, open mostly for lunch and closing at 6 p.m., but it’s extremely striking in that it’s managed entirely by two women, sisters Mary and Deborah Jones.

The Jones sisters are Kansas City natives, who learned the art of barbecue from their father at a young age. After years of making and eating barbecue, they decided to open and co-operate their business, Deborah running the pit and Mary making sides and developing relationships with customers.

I have to say that both women do their jobs well. My entire household made it a point to try this barbecue, and we were all impressed and satisfied with the food we tried. Seeing as how my mom and I arrived at Jones shortly after 3:30 p.m., food supplies were dwindling at best, but we managed to snag one of their famous sausages, tips, baked beans and potato salad.

I tried the sausage first. My family and I unanimously agreed that this was the least impressive out of all the food we tried, which was surprising as sausage is what they’re famous for. It was dry and had little flavor, just blind spice. Was it decent and edible? Yes. Would I recommend that you go searching for this specific sausage because it was just that delicious? Not at all. Ultimately, this sausage learned little more than an “eh.”

Next in line were the tips. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about trying these because I wasn’t quite sure what they were, but I was pleasantly surprised by this burnt end-like food. They were actually one of the most flavorful foods I tried, drowning in barbecue sauce and somehow both tough and tender. The tips are far more worthy of being Jones’ famous food than the sausage. I will admit that they were a little too sturdy and hard to bite into, but I’m going to chalk that up to us getting our food at 3:30 p.m., when almost all of Jones’ daily business has come and gone, and taken the delicious tips with them. These tips were reminiscent of jerky,  covered with the best Kansas City barbecue sauce you’ve ever tasted and were overall extremely impressive, especially for being hours old.

The party continued with the baked beans, which were odd in that it was not just little beans swimming around in there. Jones’ baked beans are no ordinary dish, and they actually include bell peppers. This was not initially apparent, so imagine our surprise when biting into what we expected to be soft beans and getting a little crunch! “Crunchy baked beans” is not the best way to describe it and actually sounds kind of gross, but trust me, baked beans + bell peppers = amazing, unusual dish.

Unfortunately, the potato salad we received was, like the sausage, bland. To be fair, potato salad is hard to remake, but expectations were high and their baked beans were a hard act to follow. In the end, this dish was nothing to write home about. Jones didn’t add much originality into this one, but I don’t blame them. I mean, how original can potato salad really be?

I felt Jones BBQ was a solid three out of five stars. While they had some amazing dishes, these were canceled out by a mix of mostly unoriginal food and an overwhelming feeling that the restaurant is playing it safe. Maybe in another life, where I am not from Kansas City and haven’t grown up with barbecue, I would have given Jones’ four or even five stars. However, I live in this life, I am from Kansas City and I have grown up with barbecue, so my final opinion is that this food is good, but not Kansas City good. If you’re ever driving past and you’re hungry for lunch, sure, I would recommend that you stop here. They had some good, classic flavors happening and I’m sure that they can recommend a good lunch for you. However, I wouldn’t tell anyone to go out of their way to get to this place. Frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever be making the 20-minute trek back out to this little red shack anytime soon. I’ll stick to my beloved Jack Stack’s for now.