Ask the Critic: Barbecue season, '09


I hear from a lot of cranky (or just plain pissed off) readers every week.  Some weeks they're complaining about my reviewing style ("All he talks about is himself!
"), some weeks they've complaining about my review of someone's favorite restaurant ("Only an idiot wouldn't think Root Down was the best new restaurant in the city!")

The two things guaranteed to twist the maximum number of panties in this town?  Barbecue and Best of Denver, baby.  There is nothing that the people of Denver love more than bitching about our Best of picks.  And the only thing that anyone likes more than eating barbecue is arguing about barbecue.

So when I receive a comment that encompasses both local obsessions? Well, I've just got to share. Here's a rant we find on our voicemail this week:

"I think you've diluted this Best of to the point where it's not even credible anymore. For example, look at barbecue restaurants. One year it's this, the next year it's that, the next year it's back to this one, then that one. Brother's, Yazoo, Hickory House, Big Papa's -- it's like whoever spends the most ad dollars with you, or I don't even know.

"Again, I think it's been diluted to the point of no credibility. I don't suspect you're ever going to change it, and that's fine, do what you want, but it used to be a lot more comprehensive and truly the Best of. You didn't list five or six places, it was one place, and that was it. Now it's like everyone who's in the restaurant business gets to be the Best of in some manner or other. If you're going to have Best of, you should have just one. That's it."

The anonymous dimwit who left the message obviously hasn't seen a Best of Denver issue in years (I've never given an award of any kind to the Hickory House and loathe with a fine, white passion almost everything done at the various Brothers BBQ locations around town). But somewhere in all this whining was a good question for Ask the Critic.

What's the single best barbecue joint in metro Denver? No waffling, no explanations, no splitting votes for that rib, this link. Choose one, make your case and show your work.

Because I am the one who's been called out as a flip-flopper (how dare I like one restaurant one year and then something else twelve months later?), I'll get us started.

Best Barbecue in Denver? Yazoo Barbecue Company. Why? Consistency, and an absolute refusal (at least at the original Broadway location) to behave like any sort of civilized, proper restaurant.

I've fallen in and out of love with a lot of barbecue places over the years, but Yazoo is the one I always come limping back to when my heart has been inevitably broken by some pretty young thing that came out of the gate strong and then collapsed six months or a year out. I go for Yazoo's pulled pork. When they run out of pork, I eat the ribs. When the they run out of ribs, I eat the chicken, the hot links or whatever else they have knocking around. And I don't think I have ever been unhappy with the results. And yes, it was my pick for Best BBQ in the Best of Denver 2009.

Okay, now it's your turn. Let's make that comment section smoke.


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