Food News

Gypsy Q Is Denver's Most Hidden Barbecue Joint

Smoked brisket with noodles, slaw and Vietnamese-style garnishes from Gypsy Q.
Smoked brisket with noodles, slaw and Vietnamese-style garnishes from Gypsy Q. Mark Antonation
Traffic on Brighton Boulevard moves pretty slowly these days, but that just gives you the chance to notice the alluring aroma of wood smoke coming from somewhere behind a row of warehouses between 34th and 35th streets. Follow a couple of sandwich-board signs down a dirt driveway and you'll find Nick Shankland's black, pink and blue Gypsy Q food truck. Today, Tuesday, June 5, marks Gypsy Q's first day in business — so it's possible you might be one of Shankland's first customers.

In the shadow of the Source Hotel and Market Hall next door, where guests will soon be paying hundreds of dollars a night for a room, Gypsy Q is tucked in among corrugated-steel shacks and abandoned brick warehouses. Just to the north, Zeppelin Station offers a modern food-hall experience, with multiple vendors peddling an international array of street-style cuisine. But there's nothing "street-style" about Shankland's setup; it's just pure "street," with folding picnic tables under a retractable awning, music blaring from the party van's speakers, and the smell of good food.

click to enlarge Gypsy Q is now serving barbecue with a Southeast Asian twist. - MARK ANTONATION
Gypsy Q is now serving barbecue with a Southeast Asian twist.
Mark Antonation
The chef has been working all winter to outfit a party bus with food-service equipment and convert a horse trailer into a cabinet smoker. Now he's turning out brisket, pulled pork and chicken in the Southern barbecue tradition, but with a southeastern twist — Southeast Asia, that is. You can have your choice of meat served on a bed of Excellent Flour Stick noodles with a side of cilantro, sliced jalapeños and Asian-inspired slaw, or perhaps made into a banh mi sandwich. If you insist on sauce, the Gypsy Q house blend is a lightly smoky mix that includes hoisin and soy sauce.

The exact location is 3410 Brighton Boulevard (behind the Urban Cyclist), but parking is easiest off Wynkoop Street, as long as you don't park below 35th, which turns into a private driveway for Mountain Cement Co. (look for the twin blue and white silos and you'll know you're in the right place).

Gypsy Q is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or until the meats sell out, whichever comes first. Make sure you order a glass of Shankland's Vietnamese iced coffee or grab a can of birch soda, a regional favorite from his home state of Virginia.

Gypsy Q will soon also be accepting delivery orders through Grubhub, and Shankland does catering for special events; visit his website or call 303-929-6906 for more details.

The city is so proud of finally completing the construction on Brighton Boulevard that it will hold a grand-opening party on June 21, in conjunction with the RiNo Art District, to unveil the new traffic lights, bike lanes, sidewalks and safety features. The pace of life will pick up after that, bringing more traffic back past new restaurants, apartments and shops. But if the neighborhood's gentrification is moving a little too quickly for you, Gypsy Q is just the right place for lunch in the heart of RiNo's gritty industrial zone.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation