No self-respecting stalker can take a trip to San Diego without visiting Kansas City Barbecue, which is more commonly known as the “Top Gun Bar”. Kansas City Barbeque was actually featured twice in the 1986 Tom Cruise flick. It first shows up in the scene where Goose and Maverick serenade Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan with “Great Balls of Fire” and Meg Ryan utters her famous line “Goose, you big stuuuuuud! Take me to bed now or lose me forever!” It also appears in the very final scene of the movie, where Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis reunite while “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” plays on the jukebox in the background. (Yes, that jukebox is still there!) 🙂
Even though Top Gun was filmed over 20 years ago, fans still flock to the tiny bar on a regular basis. I’ve even seen huge tour buses pull up out front on occasion. All of the bartenders there are extremely nice and will tell you all sorts of stories about the filming of the movie. The place would definitely be considered a dive bar, but it serves up some GREAT food in a super fun atmosphere. Sitting there, you might wonder how in the heck Kansas City Barbeque wound up in one of the biggest movies of the 80’s. Apparently, location scouts were out and about searching San Diego for filming locations for Top Gun and they stopped into Kansas City Barbeque for a cold beer and some lunch. They ended up loving the place so much, they brought director Tony Scott back there for lunch and he wound up featuring it in the movie. The rest, as they say, is history.
Goose’s piano and the jukebox can still be found in the Top Gun Bar, although they have been moved from where they stood during filming. There are tons of photographs and other movie memorabilia located throughout the restaurant – it’s a Top Gun museum of sorts. You will for sure recognize it from the movie as soon as you walk in the door and you’ll probably get the urge to sit down at Goose’s piano and play “Great Balls of Fire”. 🙂 Kansas City Barbeque is a super fun place to spend an afternoon or an evening and I highly recommend stalking it! It has also been voted “Best BBQ in San Diego” for ten years in a row.
Note – my pictures of the Top Gun Bar are extremely old! I couldn’t find my more recent ones. But trust me, the bar looks pretty much the same as it did over ten years ago when my pictures were taken. 🙂
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: Kansas City Barbeque is located at 610 West Market Street in Downtown San Diego, just across the street from Seaport Village. You can visit the bar’s website here. After hanging out at the Top Gun Bar head across the street to Seaport Village, a cute little outdoor shopping center right on the water. Edgewater Grill, located in Seaport Village, is an excellent place for dinner!