The Ten Best Barbecue Joints in Metro Denver — and What You Should Order
Brisket is king in Texas — but at Roaming Buffalo, it's just one of many good meats.
There's a growing trend toward Colorado-style barbecue; this week we explored what that means to a few different professional practitioners in Denver. But there are plenty of other great options when it comes to 'cue in this town, from dry-rub-dusted wings at GQue Championship Barbecue to an old favorite — Yazoo BBQ Company — serving Memphis-style goodness. As a result, you can opt for something old that's new again, like lamb shoulder or bison ribs, or go traditional with brisket and pulled pork. Here are the ten best places, listed in alphabetical order, to fill up on great barbecue in the Denver metro area.
Get saucy with barbecue pork at Boney's.
1. Boney's Smokehouse BBQ
1543 Champa Street
Boney's is one of the few joints that can do the culinary bus tour of the country's top barbecue regions without falling flat on any one item. Juicy pulled pork splashed with vinegar-based sauce brings North Carolina to mind, while ribs backed by something a little sweeter and more tomatoey veers in the direction of Memphis. The mix-and-match approach might frustrate purists, but the key is to sample the sauces first and then decide what suits your fancy. Whatever you order, though, the flavors of the meats definitely stand on their own, so going naked is always an option.
What you should order: The Pig-a-Dilly sandwich, with pulled pork, fried pickles and coleslaw. Ask for it "Whole Hog" style, which piles on slices of spicy hot link for an extra buck.
Burnt End brings respectable barbecue to the Denver Tech Center.
2. Burnt End BBQ
5332 DTC Boulevard, Greenwood Village
Natives of Kansas City take barbecue seriously, so when a new KC-style barbecue joint opens, aficionados notice. Burnt End first stoked its fires a year ago, just as a wave of new smokehouses was descending upon the city. The counter-service operation is the product of PB&J Restaurants, which also runs Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro, just up the road in the Tech Center. So while this Burnt End is not an original, it is a Kansas City (or, more accurately, Overland Park, Kansas) import, and the executive chef goes by the name Smokey (Stephen “Smokey” Schwartz), so that’s a plus. And as his name suggests, Schwartz’s recipes and techniques result in good, smoky meat.
What you should order: Burnt ends, of course — a Kansas City specialty served as addictive, charry chunks of beef brisket point, which cooks longer than the leaner flat.
Butcher paper, cafeteria trays and sliced white bread are clues that Globe Hall is the real barbecue deal.
3. Globe Hall
4483 Logan Street
Texas transplant Jeff Cornelius opened Globe Hall last fall in the space formerly occupied by the Sidewinder, a longtime Globeville dive. There's a dance hall with live music several nights a week, a big smoker named Black Betty (yes, it's named after the song) out back, and a line at the barbecue counter where customers lick their chops in anticipation of Central Texas-style 'cue. That means thick-barked brisket, hot links, tender pulled pork (which isn't wet, like its Deep South counterparts), fatty pork ribs and turkey breast tinged with butter and smoke. It's a bare-bones operation with only a few simple sides and one dessert: a don't-miss banoffee pie.
What you should order: Brisket is the real deal here; load up a cafeteria tray with meat and head to the dance hall, which doubles as a dining hall during dinner hours, complete with sauces, pickles, onions and sliced white bread for mopping up the juices.
A perfect pork rib from the championship GQue team.
4. GQue Championship Barbecue
5160 120th Avenue, Westminster
GQue owner Jason Ganahl competed on the competitive barbecue circuit for years, earning the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association’s Team of the Year award and placing high in several of the top national competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. His recipes translate well to a restaurant setting, and his meats are among the most consistent across the board, whether ribs, brisket, wings, sausage or turkey. And sides are done right, too, with smoky beans, tangy slaw with a sweet hint of apple, and kettle chips meant for munching.
What you should order: Do yourself a favor and get a sampler platter of everything GQue smokes; your belt may complain, but you won't regret it. Ganahl's time on the competitive circuit taught him to aim for big flavors over regional specificity, so every bite is bold and beautiful.
A selection of beef and pork cuts at Owlbear Barbecue.
5. Owlbear Barbecue
2927 Larimer Street — inside Finn's Manor
Owlbear's owner/pit master, Karl Fallenius, trained with some of the best in Central Texas, including Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Now set up with an outdoor smoker and food counter at Finn's Manor, Fallenius (who named Owlbear after a Dungeons & Dragons monster) keeps things low and slow, for moist, delicious and deeply smoky meats.
What you should order: The brisket is not to be overlooked, but if you're hunting for something a little different, Owlbear offers a smoked pork tenderloin that's juicy and cooked to a perfect pink. And check in frequently for off-menu specials like the extraordinary pastrami and smoked-brisket chili.
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