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Meet the Dude Who Fixed Kansas City’s “Limp” Brisket Problem

How Tyler Harp Became a Craft Barbecue Kingpin

Tyler and Bob Harp prepping
Tyler (left) and Bob Harp prepping "craft barbecue" brisket. (Emily Woodring | Flatland)
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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “craft barbecue”? Don’t feel bad if you draw a blank, because there isn’t a whole lot of it around here.

Hard-core barbecue enthusiasts define craft barbecue as cooked only using wood, served fresh daily, never reheated and cut to order. And they say there’s only one place really doing it right now in the Kansas City area.

Harp Barbecue. 

Thrillist recently listed Harp Barbecue as one of the 33 best BBQ joints in America. Locally, 435 magazine recently named Harp Barbecue Kansas City’s number one barbecue spot.

Take a trip with us in the attached video to watch Harp’s process on a sweltering weekend back in September. Flatland spent all day Friday and Saturday morning documenting the hard work, and patience, it takes to do true craft barbecue. 

Tyler Harp started his business with his dad Bob after they saw an article by Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor of Texas Monthly magazine, that heavily criticized Kansas City’s “limp” brisket.

Initially offended, they then decided to take a trip to Texas to see what all the fuss was about. The trip convinced them that Vaughn was right. There was something missing in the Kansas City barbecue scene, and they decided to fill that hole.

The folks at Harp know cooking barbecue this way is not easy. But they enjoy the hard work, and customers can’t get enough of it.

Vaughn ended the 2014 article with this question: “With all other menu items being equal, if a barbecue joint in KC started doing sliced brisket as well the good ones in Texas, it would immediately be the unquestioned best barbecue in Kansas City. Who’s gonna be first?”

The answer: Harp.

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