Jessie Smiley says opening a restaurant has been a longtime goal for her and her husband, Sean, who owns State 38 Distillery in Golden. But the decision got a little easier after a recent road trip. "Sean drove down to Texas and came back towing a 500-gallon smoker," she notes.
If you've got the equipment, opening your own barbecue joint seems like a logical step. After taking over the lease of the former Phoenix Bar at 15800 West Colfax Avenue, Jessie Smiley is now the proud owner of Smiley's, which began serving barbecue and cocktails made with State 38 spirits as well as booze from other Colorado craft distilleries last week.
The restaurant has received a complete overhaul from its former incarnation, with new hardwood floors and decor, and Smiley says she and Sean also installed a 600-square-foot deck to the front of the building overlooking the foothills.
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The menu at Smiley's reads a little different than that of most smokehouses. Rather than ordering piles of meats and sides, guests can choose from smoked chicken, pulled pork or brisket served as tacos or sandwiches built on Hawaiian slider buns. There's also a vegetarian option made with grilled zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms with housemade cactus salsa, pepitas and cotija cheese.
The smoked meats are also turned into a number of shareable plates, including barbecue nachos, mac and cheese with burnt ends, green chile with smoked pork, and shepherd's pie. Smiley says that there will also be occasional specials such as ribs and other craveable appetizers.
At the bar, guests will find a list of house cocktails made with spirits from State 38, Lee Spirits, Bear Creek, Damn Good and other Colorado brands, as well as craft beers from local brewers. And since Smiley's is located in Golden, Coors will also be on tap.
Smiley's is throwing a grand-opening celebration on Friday, June 28, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with live music starting at 6 p.m. The restaurant is now open daily from 11 a.m. to close (hours are still being set). Call 720-275-4042 or visit the Smiley's website for more details.