KC is known for two things: its snowstorms in March and its slow-cooked, smoked barbeque. As a barbeque fanatic, I’m always looking for a new, affordable place to satisfy my barbeque needs. After watching the Fab Five from Netflix’s “Queer Eye” give Mary (Shorty) and Deborah (Little) Jones a makeover and featured their bustling barbeque shack, I was hopeful that Jones BBQ might be my new spot.
Not only did I stumble upon a full “Queer Eye” reunion happening there, people from another “Queer Eye” episode were there too, but I also got to try some old-school and authentic KC barbeque.
Right when I pulled up, I knew this trip was going to leave a lasting impression — and I was right (by the end of my trip my clothes smelled like rib tips and I had snagged a picture with Shorty).
After waiting for 20 minutes to put my order in, I was lucky that they still had rib tips, beans, sausage and turkey left. Jones BBQ makes everything fresh in the morning but they only make a limited amount, so they run out of the more popular items quickly. After you order your food, all you can do is wait, and pray they don’t run out of your order before they make your plate.
Even though the 35-minute wait was painfully slow, the fact that I was inside the handiwork of “Queer Eye” helped distract from my stomach growling. Jones looked exactly the same way as it did on the TV — summery and welcoming with picnic tables, umbrellas and a big white sign that reads “Jones BBQ.”
I would soon discover that the loud groaning noises my stomach made were worth the food. In “Queer Eye,” the rib tips were practically all anyone talked about, so I knew trying them was a must. But first, my dad had to inform me they were just the meat on the end of the ribs — go figure. The rib tips were a messy, slow-cooked plate of fall-off-the-bone hickory smoked ribs smothered in their special, secret barbeque sauce.
I don’t think I have ever tasted anything with that intense smokey flavor before — it even tasted better than my dad’s ribs, which have always been my birthday dinner of choice. As soon as I took a bite, it fell apart in my mouth and all I could taste was the hickory flavor.
Their secret barbeque sauce wasn’t like my usuals, Joe’s KC or McGonigle’s Market, but one of the best I’ve ever had. It had a sweet but tangy flavor and tasted almost like a sweet and sour sauce with some vinegar and plenty of pepper. It was surprisingly sweet — perfect for someone like me who thinks queso is spicy.
When I saw the sausage was homemade, I immediately ordered it in honor of my parent’s number one rule: homemade is better. At first sight, the sausage looked like my grandma’s beef tenderloin — dry. You could see the fresh char marks, the crispy casing of the sausage and all the different spices inside the meat, including fennel (my personal favorite) which gave the meat a surprising licorice flavor. The not-too-spicy sausage was beautifully complemented by their barbeque sauce.
I was pretty disappointed that I had to swap out my pulled pork sandwich for a turkey sandwich because they ran out of pork before they made my plate, but the turkey was still sufficient. The thin slices of turkey didn’t hold heat well, so my sandwich got cold pretty fast. In the end, it worked out because I was able to taste the smokey flavor in the turkey once it was cold. And I have to admit, it tasted much better than the usual Price Chopper low-sodium turkey my mom buys, but it wasn’t quite at the McGonigle’s Market level. The smokiness of the meat was complemented, once again, by their sweet and spicy sauce that I instantly fell in love with.
If you are going to Jones BBQ, I recommend going early or on a weekday (unless you want to wait at least an hour more than I had to). Go in ready to wait and with the mindset that you might not get everything that you want to eat. Even if you don’t, there’s no bad choice on the menu (as long as you get some water to go with the sausage). Trust me, the Fab Five had great taste with the Jones sisters and the wait is worth it.