Chow Town

Central Texas influences Slap’s BBQ in KCK

Slap’s ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage, hushpuppies, beans and cheesy corn.
Slap’s ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage, hushpuppies, beans and cheesy corn. Special to The Star

A fair amount of slapping goes on in the national barbecue contest and sauce network.

Besides SlapHappy sauce, Slap sauce and teams Slap Shot and Slapjo Mama, two slap teams that have earned an enormous amount of well-deserved national attention are from California and Kansas, respectively.

Harry Soo’s Slap Yo Daddy one-man team has won enough major contests to command respect in the international barbecue community. Chow Town’s Squeal Like A Pig (SLAP) competition barbecue team has likewise commanded international respect for its pitmaster prowess.

Last year, June 16 was a lucky day for Chow Towners. Brothers Mike and Joe Pearce, fresh from becoming TV stars on the “BBQ Pitmasters” show, opened Slap’s BBQ restaurant on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kan., with friend and former business partner, Brandon Whipple.

Mother Francine works the cash register. Brother Jonathan helps in the kitchen. I don’t mean for Slap’s to sound like a monastery, but fans say their barbecue is heavenly.

You can tell that the brothers Pearce have done homework in central Texas. It’s almost like they see their competition as Austin, Lockhart, Luling and Taylor instead of Kansas City.

At Slap’s you order at one end of the counter, pay and pick up at the other end. Meat choices are what we expect in Kansas City: brisket, burnt ends, sausage, pork spareribs, pulled pork, and turkey breast.

All meats are smoked to perfection: tender, with a kiss of smoke. The ribs have just enough salt to carry the meat flavor, and although the sauce is sweet, it is applied with moderation so you taste meat, not candy.

When I watched Mike give my slice of turkey breast a butter bath before serving, I remarked that that’s like Aaron Franklin in Austin, Texas. Mike humbly boasted that their turkey and ribs rival Aaron’s, but he gives Aaron a slight edge on brisket. Another Texas influence at Slap’s is the sausage. They get it from a place in Lockhart.

My favorite Slap’s sides are the hush puppies, cheesy corn and warm baked potato salad. Corn kernels mixed in with the hush puppies batter lend a perfect flavor kick. The puppies are especially delicious dipped in cheesy corn sauce or topped with a dab of barbecue sauce.

No wonder customers line up early before the doors open at 11 a.m. Slap’s serves some of the best barbecue in Kansas City.

Slap’s is open for lunch only, from 11 a.m. until sold out. It is at 553 Central Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. Its telephone number is 913-213-3736 and can be found online 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 Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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