Absent from the list is Oklahoma Joe's, which chef Anthony Bourdain suggested should be on everyone's culinary bucket list back in 2009. Arthur Bryant's is the only Kansas City selection — no city had more than a single eatery on the list — but neighboring Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis also made the cut.
Here's what Zagat had to say about Arthur Bryant's:
For the past 81 years this famous Kansas City institution has churned out burnt ends and pork ribs coated in its namesake's special sauce. From presidents to movie stars to normal folk, people from all over the country have flocked here, even after Bryant passed away in 1982. Today his tradition remains and the classic tomato-molasses sauce, said to be so thick it can be eaten like jam on toast, continues to bring people in.
I think of Gates sauce when I think of thicker sauces, but it's nice to see one of the barbecue vanguards in the city get recognized. With barbecue from Chicago to Texas, this list would make a pretty crackling road trip.