Summer Means Barbecue Season in Missouri

Columbia, Mo. – The Lutz family knows a thing or two about barbecue.

In fact, Burl Lutz, owner of Lutz’s Famous BBQ–Jefferson City and Lutz’s in Columbia, is one of the most successful purveyors of barbecue in Missouri. Earlier this year, in Tuscon, Ariz., he took Grand Champion honors at one of the local-level competitions held as part of the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour. From there, Lutz earned a top 10 finish (fifth overall) in his regional division, earning him a spot in the national competition, scheduled for Oct. 19 in Bentonville, Ark.

Photo of Lutz's Famous BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City

Lutz’s Famous BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City

At Lutz’s, their slogan is: It’s hot … It’s smokin’ delicious. All meat is smoked on-site and pulled or sliced to order. And don’t overlook their house-made, spiral potato chips, with your choice of a dozen seasonings.

But just what is barbecue? Do you barbecue food or grill it? Confused? Well, let’s have a look. We visited with Burl’s brother, Joe Lutz, who is an integral part of the Lutz barbecue operation.

“The greatest thing about barbecue in Missouri is you get a wide variety of barbecue to choose from,” Joe says. “You know you’ve bitten into a really good piece of barbecue when you get the right texture so it falls apart, yet it’s not mush; when you get the flavor of the smoke, but not overwhelmed; and then you get the taste of the seasonings that go into the meat.”

Check out this video featuring Joe Lutz and folks who enjoy the family’s barbecue.

Photo of Lutz's Famous BBQ, Jefferson City

Lutz’s Famous BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City

If you aren’t sure about what separates barbecue from grilling, here’s a quick look at the differences:

Photo of Lutz's Famous BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City

Lutz’s Famous BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City

  • Barbecue is indirect cooking, where the food is placed away from the wood or charcoal heat-source, so the meat is cooked by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering hardwoods. This is usually a long, slow process where the meat is flavored and tenderized by the smoke. A dry rub is often applied prior to cooking; a basting liquid may be used periodically to maintain moisture. Wet sauces are rarely used during the actual cooking period; they may be added when the food is served.
  • On the other hand, grilling is what most folks do on the backyard patio. It involves cooking food directly above a charcoal, gas or electric heat. Grilling is quick, but because of the high temperature, grilling commonly produces somewhat less tender, often dried-out and charred food. Most backyard cooks slather on a tomato-sugar-vinegar-based “barbecue sauce” to impart flavor.

Next time you plan a cookout, consider these tips from the Lutz family:

  • The secret to a dry rub, known as Kansas-City style, is to rub it in, not sprinkle it on.
  • Let it sit 45 minutes or longer so the rub is absorbed before cooking.
  • Never put cold meat from the fridge onto the grill or smoker.
  • Maintain a constant temperature.
  • Keep notes so you can improve and repeat for success.

We asked Joe Lutz what other Missouri barbecue spot he would recommend. “Billy Sims Barbecue, in Springfield … they’re pretty good,” he says. (There’s also a Billy Sims in Joplin.)

But fear not, the smoke doesn’t end there. If you’re after a down-home, stuff-your-napkin-under-your-collar barbecue, you don’t have to journey far. Here are just a few examples of great barbecue destinations in Missouri.

Bandana’s Bar-B-Q is a Missouri group where fall-off-the-bone ribs and tender meats are hand-cut to order, straight from the smoker. Their in-house dry rub contains more than a dozen herbs and spices. There are 22 Missouri locations.

Photo of Baylee Jos BBQ, Ironton

Baylee Jo’s BBQ, Ironton

Zagat Survey®, the world’s leading survey-based restaurant reviewer, named Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue (three Kansas City locations) the No. 1 Barbecue House in the Country. If you can’t get to them, they’ll come to you via their online store. Give it a try.

For a unique Kansas City experience, combining world-class blues music and award-winning barbecue, B.B.’s Lawnside Blues and Barbecue is the place to go. B.B.’s slow-smokes sausage, beef, chicken, pulled pork and ribs in a pit that is more than 60 years old; plus, they serve Louisiana dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and goulash.

Southeast Missouri is known for being laid-back and casual. For some of the best of both, stop in at Baylee Jo’s Barbecue in Ironton. Meats are slow-smoked using cherry wood, which imparts a sweet (yes, you guessed it) cherry flavor. Their baked beans (a staple in all barbecue joints) are loaded with rib-meat pieces.

Photo of The Rusty Jug Barbecue and Root Beer Saloon, El Dorado Springs

The Rusty Jug Barbecue and Root Beer Saloon, El Dorado Springs

In El Dorado Springs, you find The Rusty Jug Barbecue and Root Beer Saloon. In addition to the standard smoked meats, they offer some unusual twists: the BLT sandwich features brisket; the signature dish is deep-fried smoked ribs; and they serve more than 80 kinds of root beer from around the country (one is made in-house).

For a true in-the-country experience and view about three or four miles north of Rolla, pull up a seat at Randy’s Roadkill Barbecue and Grill. Specialties include shredded beef, pulled pork, and sausage; Friday and Saturday evenings, smoked turkey is a best seller.

Award-winning ribs are the main feature at Wabash BBQ, housed in the passenger waiting room of the old depot in Excelsior Springs. They offer live music Saturday evenings in the summer. Their Chillicothe branch is also situated in a refurbished train depot.

At Ozark Bar-B-Que in Sunrise Beach, at the Lake of the Ozarks, you can sit lakeside. They give you plenty of napkins to wipe the sauce from your face and fingers. Ribs, chicken, pork, and sausage are hickory smoked on-site. While you’re there, share a bucket of house-made onion rings.

Voted one of the 101 Best Places to Chow Down in America by The Travel Channel, Pappy’s Smokehouse is a St. Louis hot spot. Their specialty is ribs, dry-rubbed and slow-smoked over apple and cherry wood. All of their meats are available by the pound, so you can chow down at home, too.

In Eureka, about 28 miles southwest of St. Louis, Super Smokers BBQ is home to a multi-award-winning barbecue team turning out apple wood smoked meats. They want you to feel like you are at a picnic or a party every time you visit their BBQ joint.

If you really love Bar-B-Que, there other fantastic, lip-smackin’ “barbecue joints” listed on Remember to search for all of the spellings. Get out there and enjoy the Q.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism

The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11 billion industry supporting more than 281,000 jobs. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to

Contact: Stephen Foutes
Missouri Division of Tourism

Contact: Stephanie Lynch
Missouri Tourism News Bureau

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