As its name suggests, this fourth-generation barbecue joint is also a working wood yard that has sold hickory, oak, apple, cherry, pecan and plenty more to surrounding pitmasters since 1913 (KC barbecue fanatics will tell you that it’s all in the wood). When I visited, one of the owners described Woodyard’s singular appeal: “We had some big marketing guy come through here and tell us that no amount of market research could have ever resulted in this place. It took almost a hundred years for it to come together this way.”
Railroad tracks cut through the neighboring tree line, offering periodic choo-choo music to make you feel like you’ve landed somewhere real. The bulk of the seating is outdoors on a charming patio whose bricks were laid by the owners themselves. The hand-painted signs, copious strings of twinkling lights and ceramic pig at the door make for a heady cocktail of quaint.
I sampled a glutton’s share of meatstuffs, and my highest recommendations are the chicken legs (free for first timers) and the ribs, which can be purchased one at a time for $1.55. Each had a subtle hint of smoke, the ribs a beautiful scarlet color from spending hours over the wood. Both chicken and ribs were tender enough to fall off the bone, yet didn’t—something of a revered barbecue aesthetic for serious aficionados.
As much as I liked Woodyard, I found their sauce forgettable. Skip it altogether and melt into the restrained goodness of the protein. 3001 Merriam Ln., Kansas City, KS; 913.362.8000