Tin Star Smokehouse: Everyone in the pig pile!

Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse

Tin Star Smokehouse: Everyone in the pig pile!
Danielle Lirette
Ribs, the Pig Pile sandwich and a BBQ plate at Tin Star Smokehouse. Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse.

Did you ever get in trouble as a kid — not for something small, like tracking mud through the kitchen, but for something really big, when your mom's brain would freeze and she'd rattle off the names of all your siblings and pets before finally calling yours — (both first and middle) and telling you to get over here this instant?

Of course not. Neither did I. But your brother or sister probably did, so you know how names can trip you up. Names do that at Tin Star Smokehouse, too, though happily not in an "Uh-oh, I'm going to get it" sort of way.

The confusion starts when you see the sign on the storefront, the one down from the laundromat and the 7-Eleven. If you're from Texas, you might assume, as a friend did, that this Tin Star is an offshoot of the taco-slinging Tin Star popular in Dallas. It isn't. Or if you've been in Denver a while, you might wonder if the Tin Star that fizzled out in the Tech Center nearly a decade ago has been resurrected in Golden. No again.

The BBQ plate, $13.95 at Tin Star Smokehouse. Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse
Danielle Lirette
The BBQ plate, $13.95 at Tin Star Smokehouse. Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse
Owner Paul Schutt pulling meat from the smoker at Tin Star Smokehouse. Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse
Danielle Lirette
Owner Paul Schutt pulling meat from the smoker at Tin Star Smokehouse. Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse

Location Info


Tin Star Smokehouse

16400 S. Golden Road
Golden, CO 80401

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: West Denver Suburbs


Tin Star Smokehouse
Pig Pile $6.95
Cluck $6.95
Big Tex $7.95
Double butter burger $6.95
Smoked-salmon roll $6.95
BBQ plate $13.95
St. Louis ribs, 1/4 rack $6.95
St. Louis ribs, rack $23.95
Baby back ribs, rack $16.95
Pie $3.50
16400 South Golden Road, Golden
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday

Slideshow: A Closer Look at Tin Star Smokehouse

But this Tin Star does bear a family resemblance to the Tin Star Cafe & Donut Haus in Evergreen. That's because it was launched in March by Paul Schutt, a thirty-year industry veteran who most recently was executive chef of Work Options for Women. The Tin Star in Evergreen was founded years ago by his brother, who can frequently be spotted in the kitchen of the newest Tin Star, where he consulted on the menu. "I wanted to build off my brother's brand," explains Paul. "It was always my dream to open a barbecue joint."

Beyond the names and family ties, though, these two restaurants have little in common besides smoked meats and a trio of barbecue sandwiches. At the Golden spot, they're part of a lineup billed as "Colorado Bar-B-Que." This is confusing, too: Last I checked, Colorado doesn't have a style — at least not one that other regions would recognize the way we associate sweet, ketchupy sauces with Kansas City, or mustardy, vinegary ones with the Carolinas. The menu, tossed on the counter where you order, doesn't elaborate. But it's clear that Tin Star is a barbecue joint, not a place for deconstructed small plates, much less a date. You roll up your sleeves and wash your hands at the sink by the drink station before you eat; this is an eat-with-your-fingers, wipe-your-hands-on-paper-towels kind of place (a roll is kept on each table). When you're done, and the paper-lined platter that doubles as your plate is nothing but a pile of bones, you'll visit the sink again, and maybe get a refill of sweet tea or lemonade while you're at it.

Between visits to that sink, your food arrives quickly. That's good, because the smell that hangs in the air — the one from the restaurant's smokers, which run much of the day and hold up to 600 pounds of meat apiece — is a major appetite stimulant. At lunch, most people fall for the Pig Pile. Made from meat that spends eighteen hours over a mix of applewood and mesquite, the pulled-pork sandwich is smokier than a '70s lounge. Condiments come on the side, but take a bite before you pick up the red and yellow squirt bottles full of barbecue sauce. You might decide, as I did, that the tang from the vinegary slaw is accent enough for the full-flavored meat. The brisket in the Big Tex sandwich is so tender it may not need sauce, either. But a squirt or two certainly helps the Cluck, since the chicken thighs in it soak up less smoke. (Those sauces might seem more appealing after Schutt tweaks the two currently available — the hot is now just a smidge above mild — and adds a more peppery third.)

If you can't decide among the meats, try the BBQ plate, which offers a choice of two plus two sides (housemade chips, slaw, beans or hush puppies) and Texas toast. One side also comes with the sandwiches, and if you're smart, you'll make it the hush puppies, which are as close to doughnuts as this location gets. Made from cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, sugar and eggs, these deep-fried balls are nearly as sweet — and just as addictive — as the doughnut holes they resemble. Pork, chicken and brisket can also be ordered by the pound, which in terms of deals is just one step down from the purchase of Alaska for two cents an acre. While the Pig Pile brings a quarter-pound of meat and one side for $6.95, a full pound of pork runs just $10.95.

There are other sandwiches on this compact menu, including a smoked-salmon roll, made with lemon mayonnaise, lettuce and a generous helping of house-smoked salmon, and a two-patty burger with a slab of garlic butter that melts over the meat as you eat it. They're billed as specialty sandwiches, but the burger doesn't deserve the title, given how overcooked mine was one night; they seem more like options for the barbecue-averse.

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My Voice Nation Help

Been seeing the place since they moved in and finally decided to give them a try today (although I must say I still miss Tatum's, the cheesesteak place that had been in this spot for several years before they decided to close up shop) and was very good.  The Pig Pile was very tasty, although the chips, while homemade could have been a little fresher (should have gone with the beans which is my usual choice with bbq).  The pork on the sandwich had a great smokey flavor the the coleslaw was perfect, nice and fresh and vinegary.  They have a frequent diner program (got my first punch today) and regularly run specials (the rib tips they had for special today looked really good as well).  Hope this place makes it because that strip on Old Golden Road is a tough place to do business but if the word gets out about their food they have a great shot at becoming one of those hidden gems. 


cool beans... right up the road!