The BBQ Shack
Paola, Kansas' BBQ Shack in Paola, Kansas was one of the youngest restaurants to make the KansasTravel.org listing of Unique Kansas Restaurants. Although the folks with the BBQ Shack had been catering BBQ for many years, this fun little restaurant just opened in May of 2006 and made this list in 2008.
The BBQ Shack developed a big reputation in a short period of time. They did that on the strength of friendly people, a cool, interesting little building, and doing an outstanding job smoking meats. They no longer have the cool old building, but everything else is the same.
The big reason for visiting Paola's BBQ Shack is the smoked meat. The ribs, brisket and sausage are very good, but the BBQ Shack's chicken wings are outstanding and should be a part of any visit. The wings are first hickory smoked and then deep fried. I usually like lots of sauce on wings, but not on these - I want to taste all of the flavor in the meat. The fairly small wings are served with your choice of blue cheese or ranch dressings. They did have a wonderful garlic/habenero dressing, but it has been discontinued.
With a large selection of sides, I have only had a chance to try some of them so far. The crosscut French fries are average. The Goober baked beans are above average, but frankly I like my own better. The best side dish I have tried so far are Jubal Foster's Corn Nuggets - corn kernels that have been covered in batter and deep fried. I also enjoyed the Fletch's spicy corn on the cobb and the atomic buffalo turds (cored jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese & marinated water chestnuts and wrapped in bacon).
The BBQ Shack has three sauces: wimpy, hot and sweet fire. The wimpy doesn't have a lot of flavor and I don't think it stands up to the strong smoky flavor of the meats. The hot is the same with just a little more heat. Sweet fire is a little less hot than I would prefer, but I believe it best compliments the flavor of the meats.
In October of 2008, Paola's BBQ Shack moved to the new location shown at the top of this page. For the first two years, the BBQ Shack was in the wonderful old dive shown in the two photos at the bottom of the page. While it was in that original location, the Shack was featured on th Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode "Real Deal BBQ."
The new building near highway Highway 169 still has the memorabilia with references to the Andy Griffith TV show and Barney Fife. But they are not that noticeable in the larger generic space.
My most recent visit to the BBQ Shack was in January 2013. That time I had the Wings & Things - 12 wing thirds and a half pound on onion straws. The wings came in a choice of 5 different sauces and I went with the medium hot 'hickory heat" and hotter "pit boss." There is one hotter sauce, but the pit boss is hotter than many places serve. In both cases, the sauce seemed to be more about the heat, than other flavors. The onion straws were thicker than most, and in my opinion, not crispy enough. They were also greasy and I left the vast majority of the straws in the basket.
The BBQ Shack in Paola still does a large catering business and will even prepare a whole roasted hog on special order.
a larger version of the new menu from March 2016.
copyright 2008-2016 by Keith Stokes