Mack and Daisy Shead started out with a modest storefront; twenty years later, they have a million-dollar Five Points barbecue joint. But through the years, the essential core of any great BBQ operation has remained the same: the recipes. The Sheads' knowledge stretches back generations, and that heritage flavors the ribs, the small ends, the chicken and the sides -- even the homemade lemonade that's served in Mason jars. Everything at M&D's rings true, offering the best taste of Southern barbecue in town.

Come to Papa. This may look like just another strip-mall barbecue joint, but Big Papa's makes a sublime rack of baby-back ribs, all charred and crusty 'round the edges, smooth and fatty and tender inside. Making them even better are Papa's homemade sauces, four varieties from different regional traditions: Memphis, Kansas City, a mustard-spiked Carolina and a Deep South. Papa's also does good link sausage and chicken, brisket sandwiches on po'boy rolls rather than plain white Wonder Bread, and authentic hush puppies, but the baby backs are what will bring you back.


Big Papa's BBQ
Come to Papa. This may look like just another strip-mall barbecue joint, but Big Papa's makes a sublime rack of baby-back ribs, all charred and crusty 'round the edges, smooth and fatty and tender inside. Making them even better are Papa's homemade sauces, four varieties from different regional traditions: Memphis, Kansas City, a mustard-spiked Carolina and a Deep South. Papa's also does good link sausage and chicken, brisket sandwiches on po'boy rolls rather than plain white Wonder Bread, and authentic hush puppies, but the baby backs are what will bring you back.

The space that holds Brooks Smokehouse Bar-B-Que -- down a driveway and next to a nondescript house on Fairfax Street -- isn't really a garage, but it comes close enough. The Brookses have turned what was once a catering business into one of the best BBQ joints in the city, offering ribs, brisket, chicken, excellent country-style sides and Louella's own fruit punch, all available for eating in or taking out. Spend any amount of time at one of the rickety tables in the back and Ronald will show you the heart of his operation: a line of grills, all kinked for slow wood smoking -- a rarity in today's slap-dash barbecue world. Every meat on the menu comes from these jury-rigged smokers, and every smoker is personally babysat by Ronald, starting very early in the morning and sometimes going very late into the night. That's the kind of dedication it takes to be the best.


The space that holds Brooks Smokehouse Bar-B-Que -- down a driveway and next to a nondescript house on Fairfax Street -- isn't really a garage, but it comes close enough. The Brookses have turned what was once a catering business into one of the best BBQ joints in the city, offering ribs, brisket, chicken, excellent country-style sides and Louella's own fruit punch, all available for eating in or taking out. Spend any amount of time at one of the rickety tables in the back and Ronald will show you the heart of his operation: a line of grills, all kinked for slow wood smoking -- a rarity in today's slap-dash barbecue world. Every meat on the menu comes from these jury-rigged smokers, and every smoker is personally babysat by Ronald, starting very early in the morning and sometimes going very late into the night. That's the kind of dedication it takes to be the best.

Jim Walker -- best known as "Dr. Daddio" -- may be a smooth hand when it comes to dishing out the tunes on KUVO, but the man also knows his way around good barbecue. While this little restaurant counter on the left-hand side of a gas station out on Airport Boulevard may not be the prettiest or the best-stocked joint in town (it has a tendency to run out of nearly everything on a good day), it's definitely the best place to get some 'cue and peach cobbler as you're gassing up the Hummer. Dr. Daddio's sauce is an addictive, thin, sweet mop that his kitchen applies liberally to everything from ribs and chicken to brisket and hot links. And at just $11 for a full rib dinner with baked beans, bread, potato salad and a slice of lemon pound cake, you can fill your belly for a lot less green than it'll take to fill your tank.


Jim Walker -- best known as "Dr. Daddio" -- may be a smooth hand when it comes to dishing out the tunes on KUVO, but the man also knows his way around good barbecue. While this little restaurant counter on the left-hand side of a gas station out on Airport Boulevard may not be the prettiest or the best-stocked joint in town (it has a tendency to run out of nearly everything on a good day), it's definitely the best place to get some 'cue and peach cobbler as you're gassing up the Hummer. Dr. Daddio's sauce is an addictive, thin, sweet mop that his kitchen applies liberally to everything from ribs and chicken to brisket and hot links. And at just $11 for a full rib dinner with baked beans, bread, potato salad and a slice of lemon pound cake, you can fill your belly for a lot less green than it'll take to fill your tank.

If you think Denver barbecue takes a walk on the mild side, run to your computer and order up some Brick-Hot Bar-B-Que Sauce. Produced and packaged in Lakewood, this sauce has a smoky, dark and ever-present heat that runs right along that ragged edge between really friggin' hot and just too hot, without becoming so forward that it kills any sense of flavor. Brick-Hot goes wonderfully with everything from ribs to brisket to those whole roasted chickens sold in most grocery stores. It worries us a little that one of the main ingredients is Liquid Smoke, but when the final product tastes this good, we're willing to let it go.


If you think Denver barbecue takes a walk on the mild side, run to your computer and order up some Brick-Hot Bar-B-Que Sauce. Produced and packaged in Lakewood, this sauce has a smoky, dark and ever-present heat that runs right along that ragged edge between really friggin' hot and just too hot, without becoming so forward that it kills any sense of flavor. Brick-Hot goes wonderfully with everything from ribs to brisket to those whole roasted chickens sold in most grocery stores. It worries us a little that one of the main ingredients is Liquid Smoke, but when the final product tastes this good, we're willing to let it go.

The pizza at Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana straddles that dangerous line between honest, wood-fired thin-crust excellence and faddish, overdone, cracker-crust nonsense. So far, though, Proto's has stayed on the right side of that line, turning out wonderful, hand-tossed pies that are first-rate examples of the thin-crust form, even if they're irregularly shaped, sometimes unevenly covered, and never consistent from one 'za to the next. How does it manage this trick? By taking great care with every pie that goes through the ovens and never using anything but the best ingredients available, from the simplest cheese and pepperoni to fresh tomato and veggies. A pizzaman is only as good as his next pie -- and you can count on that next pie here being very, very good.

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