To say “Topeka is a good place to grow potatoes” is like saying “a yard is three feet” or “evil is a very bad thing.”
Topeka literally means “a good place to grow potatoes” in the language of the Kansa tribe.
Say “Topeka is a good place to eat barbecue” and you could start a conversation, if not a spirited debate. Topeka is no stranger to spirited debates, smoke blowing, tax allergies and mathematically challenged government branches. Its one redeeming quality is the barbecue. My current favorites are Boss Hawg’s, Hog, Herd & a Bird, Big’Uns Grill and Lonnie’s Q.
You’ll find Lonnie’s Q on a semi-wooded prairie next to an RV park on the outskirts of Topeka. It could be a good place to grow potatoes. Fortunately, Lonnie and Christine Weaver have made their little plot of land in Topeka a good place to cook and eat barbecue.
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No need to advertise. By 2 p.m. they’re sold out of everything after opening the doors at 11 a.m. Word gets around when your barbecue is that good.
Lonnie’s Q operates out of a brick, glass and wood structure with high ceilings, rock music ambiance and pig art befitting a barbecue joint instead of an RV showroom. Friendliness ripples throughout the scene, from serving line to dining room.
Fortunately for barbecue lovers, Lonnie and Christine are devoted to serving excellent barbecue that pairs splendidly with potatoes. Their cheesy potatoes are fantastic, especially in combination with pit beans and heaping portions of brisket, pork and turkey in the overflowing “Cup of Heaven.” Feasting on that cup alone is reason enough to go to Topeka.
Lonnie’s Q vies with the Atwood Brothers at Big’Uns Grill for bragging rights as the Franklin Barbecue of Topeka. They rarely attract a two-hour long wait line like Franklin, but hey, Austin has 758,000 more people than Topeka, plus more tourists.
In the tradition of Central Texas pitmasters, Lonnie Weaver is a stick burner. Instead of mesquite or post oak, he burns hickory logs in his made-in-Oklahoma heavy gauge steel pit. Brisket, pork, turkey and ribs comprise the meat menu, all smoked to tender, flavorful perfection.
Their registered motto is, “We Smoke It … and It’s Legal.” Sides include beans, slaw, cheesy potatoes and chips. It is high quality, basic no-frills barbecue.
Lonnie is an artist as well as pitmaster. He painted the rock music-themed art on the walls at Lonnie’s Q, as well as the Lonnie’s Q logo.
Lonnie’s Q opens for lunch at 11 a.m., Monday through Friday. The line forms early and is often out the door. Dinner is served on Fridays. Lonnie is the pitmaster and server. Lonnie’s Q doesn’t advertise.
They exemplify the late William Shawn’s wisdom that those who are best at what they do don’t need to advertise. Get in line and try some Lonnie’s Q.
Lonnie’s Q BBQ is located at 3150 S.E. 21st St. in Topeka. Its telephone number is 785-233-4227 and can be found on the web at https://www.facebook.com/lonnieqbbq
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.