Chow Town

At Snead’s Bar-B-Q in Belton, ‘Brownies’ means Barbecue

Hickory smoked house-made sausage and spareribs from Snead’s original barbecue pit.
Hickory smoked house-made sausage and spareribs from Snead’s original barbecue pit. Special to The Kansas City Star

Some things haven’t changed at the original Snead’s Corner Bar-B-Q in Belton.

The barbecue joint at the corner of 171st Street and Holmes Road occupies the original poured concrete building with an added-on dining area and hand-built brick barbecue pit, all constructed by the late Bill Snead. It was built to endure for present generations and beyond.

The original pie slice-shaped red and white sign with a smiling pink pig sits atop a weathered white metal pole, welcoming all who hunger for good old-fashioned Kansas City barbecue.

The menu features Snead’s old standbys since 1956. Prices, of course, have changed with the times.

A regular ham, turkey, beef, pork or sausage sandwich will cost you $6.99 instead of a dollar. A combination platter of four meats costs $20.99 instead of $3.50. “Brownies,” Snead’s jargon for beef burnt ends, are $10.99 for a small order instead of $1.25.

Gone are the long- or short-end open-face rib sandwiches for $1.25, but you can get a hearty half-slab rib dinner with hand-cut fries, toast, pickle and complimentary house-made coleslaw for $14.25.

Snead’s barbecue meat is smoked with 100 percent hickory in founder Bill Snead’s pit. True to his barbecue method, the meat is lightly smoke-seasoned. Salt, pepper and sauces are on each table for use as you wish.

My friend Gary and I savored a four meat combo platter of pulled pork, brownies, sausage and turkey, plus a half slab of ribs with and without sauce and found them equally delicious. The pulled pork is lightly sauced, not optional. I prefer to add seasonings if needed, but Gary and I agreed that Snead’s sauce goes well with the pork.

Hand-cut fries, pit beans and coleslaw on the side were a perfect complement. Save room for Debbie’s bread pudding

The add-on dining area, built by Snead in 1972, is unlike the original Missouri walnut-paneled dining room, still functioning as a reception and dining area. It is adorned with deer heads, sans the hanging plastic plants and other country-style touches of the past.

Today’s main dining room resembles a church social hall — lengthy, well-lighted, beige linoleum tile on poured concrete flooring, with generic white acoustical ceiling tiles. New overhead fans, CFL spiral light bulbs, booth and table seating along each wall, two rows of tables and chairs down the middle. A happy choir leader, songbook in hand, urging us to join her in a chorus of “Revive Us Again,” would fit right in.

Today’s servers wear black slacks and gray Snead’s T-shirts instead of the dresses and aprons of yesteryear. What matters more than their attire is the food they deliver. If you’re suffering from barbecue deprivation or are simply hungry for good barbecue, Snead’s barbecue will revive you again, guaranteed.

Kudos to Snead’s owner, Sherry Siscoe, general manager Morries T., pitmaster Matt Gfeller, cooks, kitchen staff and servers for continuing the Snead’s legacy one great meal at a time. Try Snead’s and you’ll understand why customers keep coming back.

Snead’s Bar-B-Q is at 1001 E. 171st St., in Belton. Its telephone number is 816-331-7979. It can be found on the Web at

Ardie Davis founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent release is America's Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with Chef Paul Kirk.