The Denver Dry Tea Room is just a memory, the top-floor space where for decades businessmen chewed each other up while ladies serenely lunched now a hip, $1.5 million loft. Assuming that its new owner, Rutt Bridges, doesn't plan to throw a citywide open house anytime soon, though, it's still possible to get a taste of the old place. That's because the Blue House, a quaint, weekday lunch-only spot, features the tearoom's famous chicken a la king -- a perfect puff pastry filled with chunks of chicken swimming in a rich cream sauce -- as a frequent special. Who wants to eat like a millionaire?
In the space once occupied by Pour La France! sits Seven 30 South, a revamped concept from PLF's owners that shifts the focus away from breakfast and lunch and toward a more sophisticated dining experience. Chef Kip Wotanowicz has created a menu that matches the tony new interior, one that features a number of innovative offerings. Tops on the list is the fried calamari: squid steak cut into French-fry-like strips, then lightly coated with fine breadcrumbs and fried into crunchy-edged, creamy-centered snack stix. Two sauces -- a roasted-garlic aioli and a spicy marinara -- are provided for dipping, and they're just the thing to spark the mild calamari meat. After you've sunk your teeth into these babies, you'll kiss off the competition's rubbery rings forever.

In the space once occupied by Pour La France! sits Seven 30 South, a revamped concept from PLF's owners that shifts the focus away from breakfast and lunch and toward a more sophisticated dining experience. Chef Kip Wotanowicz has created a menu that matches the tony new interior, one that features a number of innovative offerings. Tops on the list is the fried calamari: squid steak cut into French-fry-like strips, then lightly coated with fine breadcrumbs and fried into crunchy-edged, creamy-centered snack stix. Two sauces -- a roasted-garlic aioli and a spicy marinara -- are provided for dipping, and they're just the thing to spark the mild calamari meat. After you've sunk your teeth into these babies, you'll kiss off the competition's rubbery rings forever.

Oh, brother! We have no bones to pick with the O'Sullivans, who continue to turn out the best ribs in town at their Brothers BBQ. They came to Denver from England via the South, working on their barbecue along the way. For example, they took the peppery, vinegary Memphis sauce and refined it until the vinegar is nothing but a faint tartness; they enchanced the sweet Kansas City sauce with more smoke to deepen the flavor. But they haven't changed anything about the way they dry-rub and slow-smoke the St. Louis-cut ribs, because that's what makes the meat so juicy and intense, so addictive you want to tear at it until every last shred is gone. Their baked beans are the best in town, too. Extra points to the brothers for making everyone feel like barbecue pits are native to Britain -- no small feat.

Readers' choice: Brothers BBQ

Oh, brother! We have no bones to pick with the O'Sullivans, who continue to turn out the best ribs in town at their Brothers BBQ. They came to Denver from England via the South, working on their barbecue along the way. For example, they took the peppery, vinegary Memphis sauce and refined it until the vinegar is nothing but a faint tartness; they enchanced the sweet Kansas City sauce with more smoke to deepen the flavor. But they haven't changed anything about the way they dry-rub and slow-smoke the St. Louis-cut ribs, because that's what makes the meat so juicy and intense, so addictive you want to tear at it until every last shred is gone. Their baked beans are the best in town, too. Extra points to the brothers for making everyone feel like barbecue pits are native to Britain -- no small feat.

Readers' choice: Brothers BBQ

When Pastor Gene Washington got the call to take his family to an old soda fountain in Littleton and start serving up great barbecue, he answered -- and as a result, we're blessed with Blest Bar-B-Que of the Rockies. From Grandma Sharon down to granddaughter Jasmine, everyone puts their hands in, and their work pays off with such rib-stickin' sides as an eggy, pickle-packed potato salad, pork-filled baked beans, sweet potato pie so sugary it'll make you weep, and genuine Coke floats. But Blest's true blessing is the sloooooowww-smoked brisket -- soft as velvet, so tender you could scare the pieces apart with your fork, and slathered with sauce. And not just any sauce, but a concoction of the reverend's that takes a little from Kansas, a little from Memphis, and a little more from here and there; the sauce soaks right into the brisket until every shred screams with flavor. Washington calls it "a Southern taste in the West"; we simply call it the best.
When Pastor Gene Washington got the call to take his family to an old soda fountain in Littleton and start serving up great barbecue, he answered -- and as a result, we're blessed with Blest Bar-B-Que of the Rockies. From Grandma Sharon down to granddaughter Jasmine, everyone puts their hands in, and their work pays off with such rib-stickin' sides as an eggy, pickle-packed potato salad, pork-filled baked beans, sweet potato pie so sugary it'll make you weep, and genuine Coke floats. But Blest's true blessing is the sloooooowww-smoked brisket -- soft as velvet, so tender you could scare the pieces apart with your fork, and slathered with sauce. And not just any sauce, but a concoction of the reverend's that takes a little from Kansas, a little from Memphis, and a little more from here and there; the sauce soaks right into the brisket until every shred screams with flavor. Washington calls it "a Southern taste in the West"; we simply call it the best.
When third-generation rancher George Harral and his wife, Georgia, left Texas behind, they knew they wanted to set up a smoke shop somewhere. Lucky for us, they picked a great site: Lookout Mountain, in a hundred-year-old building that reeks of history. The Harrals then set out to smoke everything imaginable -- and even a few things that weren't -- from pork ribs to chicken to brisket to salmon. But our favorite is the buffalo. The Harrals lightly smoke those massive bones until the meat starts to release its juices, then slather them with their Texas-style slop, a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce that perks up the buffalo's mild meat. The buffalo ribs are available only in the summer, so buy some bison now.

When third-generation rancher George Harral and his wife, Georgia, left Texas behind, they knew they wanted to set up a smoke shop somewhere. Lucky for us, they picked a great site: Lookout Mountain, in a hundred-year-old building that reeks of history. The Harrals then set out to smoke everything imaginable -- and even a few things that weren't -- from pork ribs to chicken to brisket to salmon. But our favorite is the buffalo. The Harrals lightly smoke those massive bones until the meat starts to release its juices, then slather them with their Texas-style slop, a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce that perks up the buffalo's mild meat. The buffalo ribs are available only in the summer, so buy some bison now.

In Kansas City, the smoky tips of brisket that can't be sliced off and sold are called burnt ends or brownies. Some KC eateries have made a name for themselves with these tidbits, and with good reason: The extra smoke makes for concentrated barbecue flavor. And after trying for some time to get their brownies right, We're Smokin' has the ends in sight. These fatty hunks are intense and still juicy, certain to kill you if you eat too many -- but what a way to go. Dip them into We're Smokin's well-melded, smoky, spicy sauce, and you'll agree that these ends justify the means.

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