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BEST BBQ IN A NON-BBQ RESTAURANT Denver 2006 - Cuba Libre Bistro and Wine Bar 12684 W. Indore Pl., Littleton 303-904-3707

While there aren't many authentically Cuban dishes at Cuba Libre, the few traditional items made by chef John Daly are dead-on in terms of gut-level flavor and texture. The ropa vieja -- which is also available in a nueva variety -- is made from slow-roasted brisket deeply flavored with smoke, then doused with a thin tomato demi that both mellows and sweetens the brisket, almost like an excellent, watered-down, Deep South 'cue sauce. Because there's no rub, Cuba Libre's barbecue is missing that tanginess and jagged, peppery bass line common to most good American barbecue, but that lack is more than made up for by the standout, peasant quality of the ropa. We're sure that most Cubans have never had lobster ceviche or honey-glazed yucca churros like Daly makes, but one taste of this ropa and they'll feel right at home.
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