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GQue Championship BBQ

"Championship" is just the right word to describe pit master Jason Ganahl's Westminster smokehouse, where you can chow down on pleasing pig in pulled pork or rib form, salivate over slices of brisket or try out the tempting turkey. Fans of Kansas City-style 'cue will find lots to love here, though this is really competition-class cooking, which means Ganahl takes every opportunity to amp up the flavor. Even-keeled smoking, a powerful rub and tangy sauces that don't overpower the meats are the hallmarks of this true Front Range BBQ champ.

Readers' Choice: Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que

Cruise along Littleton Boulevard until you see the Pyramid Liquors sign, then pull into the parking lot for a smoky surprise. TRU owner and pit master James Diaz fires up the mesquite and hits ribs, chicken thighs, pork loin, brisket and beef tri-tip with a powerful dose of smoke, as is appropriate for his Tex-Mex style of barbecue. The menu changes daily, but there's always something good. If you can keep from gorging on too much meat, save room for homemade flour tortillas, charro beans and smoked baked potatoes.

Danielle Lirette

Every bite of barbecue at Roaming Buffalo is a blissful experience, whether you choose Colorado-themed meats like smoked bison ribs or pulled lamb shoulder, or wallow in smokehouse classics like brisket, ribs and spicy sausage. On top of the regular roster, owners Coy and Rachael Webb cook up something special each weekday, from barbecue tacos to smoked and loaded baked potatoes. And come Friday, a treat emerges from the smoker that you've likely never tried before: burnt ends made with pork belly instead of beef brisket. Burnt ends are usually sliced from the fattiest section of the brisket, so using equally fatty pork belly proves an appropriate stroke of genius. Juicy, smoky and just barely sweet, these piggy nuggets make every Friday just a little bit better.

Mark Antonation

Though this Lakewood pizza joint doesn't have many bells and whistles, what's coming out of the oven makes you want to celebrate. Choose between Pizzeria Lui's red and white pies; offerings range from the kale — a red pie with kale, homemade sausage, red onion, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, garlic and parmesan — to the potato, a white pizza with Colorado-grown Yukon golds, homemade chorizo, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, garlic, green onion and a farm-fresh egg. Each pizza is cooked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven, which does the job quickly and very well. The thin crust emerges with a slight char and bubbling cheese so alluring that you'll want to take a bite even when it's still molten. Avoid the urge: There's plenty to savor here, and you don't want to singe your tastebuds before you have a chance to do so.

Readers' Choice: Blue Pan Pizza

Summer Powell

Owner Charlie Calogero Puma opened Enzo's End back in 1996, when this part of Colfax Avenue was still sketchy. It's been around so long, it's often overshadowed by the new pizza spots that have popped up. And that's a shame, because Enzo's End is really the living end when it comes to thin-crust pies. On top of that crust, you add your choice of homemade red sauce or a garlic-and-olive-oil white sauce, then layer on any of the thirty-plus toppings, ranging from pepperoni, meatballs and prosciutto to Sicilian green olives, green chiles and feta. (You can also pick from one of the many combos suggested on the menu.) Delivery in a select zone is free, though you can always dine in and enjoy the passing parade on Colfax along with your pizza.

Readers' Choice: Pizzeria Locale

Molly Martin

Detroit and Denver may not have much in common, but Blue Pan has built a friendship bridge paved with pepperoni between the two cities. Detroit-style pie, as executed at these two saucy outposts, is rectangular, high-sided and overflowing with sauce and cheese. Tangy Wisconsin brick cheese snuggles against the steel pan as the pizza cooks, creating a crusty, caramelized edge. Classic cupping pepperoni is a wise choice for a topping, but Blue Pan furthers the Michigan-Colorado connection with the Prospector, a bold combo of Italian sausage, green chiles, mushrooms and fresh garlic. One bite will leave you with deep feelings for the Motor City.

Readers' Choice: Blue Pan Pizza

Danielle Lirette

We've never been to New Haven, Connecticut, but folks from that neck of the wood-fired woods swear by the super-thin crusts, the sauceless clam pies and the slightly charred edges that give New Haven-style pizzas their distinct look and flavor. Thankfully, brothers Kris and Jason Wallenta, the owners of White Pie, are a little more familiar with New Haven than we are; in fact, they grew up there eating the Italian-American creations of Sally's Apizza, famous for its enormous, misshapen pies. The brothers' version of the obscure style is a little more manageable for one or two diners, coming in classic combinations of spicy cured meats, fennel-imbued sausage, fresh vegetables and authentic cheeses — whether slathered in thick red sauce or not. White Pie gives us one more reason to celebrate the diverse realm of American pizza.

Molly Martin

There are two sure bets at this downtown Mexican eatery: The joint will always be packed, and the green chile will always be rich, hearty and satisfying. D'Corazon makes its chile the way God intended, at least here in Colorado: brownish-orange, thick like gravy, and hot enough to grab your attention. Newcomers to Denver are likely to be confused and New Mexicans will be outraged, but after a spoonful or two, all will be converted. The pork-laden original gets top billing, but vegetarians won't be disappointed by the meatless version. Not only do ravenous lunch-goers queue up daily for a taste of this green chile, but burritos and rellenos await the privilege of being anointed in the delicious sauce, as well.

Readers' Choice: Santiago's

Great tacos start with the meat, and you know you're getting great meat at Beltran's because the butcher counter is right next to the grill. Whether quick-grilled specialties like carne asada, beef fajitas or alambres (beef with bacon and vegetables) or slow-roasted pastor and barbacoa, the tacos come out with the perfect flavor and texture. Several house salsas add a blast of chile heat, and corn tortillas come from a nearby tortilleria run by a family friend. Beltran's kitchen cooks up a wide range of Mexican specialties, so you can explore the menu of burritos, tortas and soups at breakfast, lunch and dinner; just make sure any meal includes an order of tacos.

Readers' Choice: Tacos Tequila Whiskey

Courtesy Santo Boulder Facebook page

Rather than rely on pork in his green chile, New Mexico native Hosea Rosenberg builds layers of flavor by oven-roasting all of his vegetables before they go in the pot. Still, Hatch green chiles — which the chef brings up from New Mexico every fall — are the star of the sauce at this Boulder cantina devoted to all things Southwestern. You can get a bowl of Santo's green chile on its own, try it in a stew augmented with pork and potatoes or have it slathered over stacked blue-corn enchiladas. Better yet, swing by in the morning for a weighty breakfast burrito charged with chile: It's guaranteed to awaken both you and your tastebuds.

Readers' Choice: Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

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