Denver's dining scene is making a big comeback — and we're hungering to go out. With so many new ventures and old favorites to visit, the choices can be overwhelming. So we're serving up Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week, save room for dessert at Jabo's Bar-Be-Q.
What: Jabo's Bar-Be-Q
Where: 9682 East Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village
When: Open 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
For more info: Visit jabosbarbeq.com
A visit to Jabo's is an experience rooted in old-school hospitality. On my first visit sometime in the mid-2000s, Lawson himself greeted me and shared some of his background. His late father, Jerome, was the original "Jabo," a nickname now carried on by his son, whose food is an homage to his dad's legacy — the elder Jabo began barbecuing in 1950 using a brick fire pit that he built himself in McLoud, Oklahoma.
When I lived and worked in south Denver, I visited Jabo's often — at the time, it was one of just a few locally owned spots in the area. Recently, I went back and was greeted as warmly by Lawson as I had been the very first time I went in.
Over the years, he's created well over 100 flavors. These days, the options include a conventional tomato-based hickory-smoked sauce, hickory mustard, mesquite, a vinegar-based sauce, mango and a sauce of the month. Lawson walks guests through a mild version of each one, though for the actual meal, any sauce can be made spicier, with levels ranging from medium all the way up to XXXX hot.
The sauces are available on everything from brisket and spicy Polish hot links to spare ribs, rib tips and chicken. My go-to is the Carolina pulled-pork sandwich ($14.95), a half-pound of meat piled on a giant, soft bun with slaw on top. Sides like beer-battered fries ($3.75) and a newer offering, a half-pound of creamy mac and cheese ($7.50), come separately, but there are also lunch specials and dinner combos that include sides as well as a dessert that's more than worth saving room for.
The version here is one that's been perfected over many years; Jabo's even sells its own Sconut mix so that you can make them at home. But nothing beats biting into one at the end of a meal.
The puffy pastry is pretty simple on its own, but its pillowy exterior is elevated with a generous pour of honey butter over the top. It's small, just a few inches in diameter, but it's the kind of treat you should savor, not scarf down. And after a filling meal of barbecue, it's just the right sweet note to end on, along with a friendly smile and wave from Lawson.