Best of Denver

The Ten Best Barbecue Joints in Denver — 2018 Edition

Looking for more current barbecue recommendations? Here's our list of the ten best barbecue joints in Denver as of March 7, 2019 — or keep reading for the 2018 list.

The skies keep getting smokier over Denver — because good barbecue keeps coming to the city. In the works for spring and summer this year are Smok BBQ inside the Source Hotel, Hank's Texas Barbecue on East Colfax Avenue, the reopening of Owlbear Barbecue on Larimer Street, and BBQ Supply Co. adjacent to the Evans Avenue light-rail station. But why wait? Great ’cue can be had at a number of excellent smokehouses around the city — some in the heart of downtown and some in nearby towns within an easy drive (because finding smoked meats can often be an adventure). Here are the ten best barbecue joints in the metro area, in alphabetical order.

Georgia Boys BBQ
250 Third Avenue,
 Longmont, 720-999-4099
141 Fifth Street, Frederick, 303-833-3140

Depending on where you live in the metro area, the two Georgia Boys locations can be either a quick jaunt or a full-on day trip. Consider, though, that many of the finest pit masters in the country ply their trade in rural areas; just think of it as a quest for something rare and wonderful – like unicorns, leprechauns or perfect brisket glistening with fat. The Southern charm at either location runs thick, as do the daily specials, so keep an eye out for occasional étouffée, sweet-potato casserole and homey side dishes, especially around the holidays. Georgia barbecue is big on pig, so you can’t go wrong with the pulled pork. But be sure to save some room for a side dish of a real Georgia specialty: Brunswick stew. It’s like a meaty cross between chili, succotash and leftover barbecue.

GQue Championship Barbecue
5160 120th Avenue, Westminster

GQue owner Jason Ganahl competed on the competitive barbecue circuit for years, earning the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association’s Team of the Year award and placing high in several of the top national competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. His recipes translate well to a restaurant setting, and his meats are among the most consistent across the board, whether ribs, brisket, wings, sausage or turkey. And sides are done right, too, with smoky beans, tangy slaw with a sweet hint of apple, and kettle chips meant for munching. Do yourself a favor and get a sampler platter of everything GQue smokes: Your belt may complain, but you won't regret it. Ganahl's time on the competitive circuit taught him to aim for big flavors over regional specificity, so every bite is bold and beautiful.

click to enlarge Comfort on Colfax. - FACEBOOK/KITCHEN TABLE
Comfort on Colfax.
Facebook/Kitchen Table
Kitchen Table BBQ & Comfort Food
3242 East Colfax Avenue

Dave Kilroy’s little kitchen that could keeps on chugging. After a move from its original storefront on East 22nd Avenue, the Kitchen Table relocated to East Colfax, inside Goosetown Tavern. Kilroy has gained a loyal cadre of Midwesterners and barbecue fans who keep the place busy, buying up every last scrap of meat – brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken and sausage — that comes out of the restaurant’s smoker. During the right time of year, you can even score a smoked brisket pot pie, and the sides alone are worth a stop. Kilroy’s output is consistent and even-handed, so you can’t go wrong with anything you order, but the burnt ends are somehow just a little homier, a little more Kansas, making each bite nostalgic as well as damned good. With the move, the Kitchen Table is now open for both lunch and dinner, extending the savory fun for Colfax denizens.

Piggin' Out Smokehouse
9987 Morrison Road, Lakewood

One look behind the country-style shack that houses Piggin' Out Bar-B-Que in almost-rural Lakewood will let you know that the owners understand what smoking meat means. There you'll find a big steel smoker on a trailer that's stained in streaked shades of bronze from smoke and fat. The interior of Piggin' Out isn't much to look at — it's mostly a takeout joint, but this year some additional indoor seating was added. There's chicken and turkey on the menu along with standard sides, but the best bets are the pulled pork, the pork ribs and the chopped brisket. Sauces are honest, Kansas City-style concoctions that come either rich and sweet or as a spicy version of the same.

Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que
2387 South Downing Street

The last three years have been big for barbecue in Denver, with a whole new crew of pit masters smoking up ribs, shoulder and brisket in nearly every Southern style. Roaming Buffalo was an early addition to the 2015 smokehouse scene, opening near the University of Denver and holding our attention with what can only be called Colorado-style barbecue, featuring lamb shoulder and bison back ribs in addition to housemade jalapeño-cheddar sausage. You'll also find the usual suspects — beef brisket, chicken wings and pork ribs — seasoned lightly and smoked gently so that the meaty flavors come to the forefront. Sides are worth celebrating, too, with kicked-up versions of classics, like honey-lime slaw and poblano mac and cheese. And a feast wouldn't be complete without a cup of the kitchen's luscious caramelized banana pudding. Follow your nose and check the specials board for the occasional barbecue tacos, smoked beef ribs or a meat-loaded baked potato. On Friday and Saturday nights, stop in for a smoked prime rib supper, one of the most exquisite cuts of meat in town.

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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