The ABCs of BBQ (Denver-Style)
BBQ Round-upFrom tiny mom and pops to giant national chains, these local joints consistently do it up right.
Big Jim's Ribs
For the last five years, Big Jim has peddled barbecue out of a trailer parked along Parker Road. Just pull up, walk up to the smoker, and pick out what you want. Big Jim, an Arkansas native who swears by hickory smoke, serves up 'cue year-round—and it's worth a detour if you're in the area.
Order up Spareribs, chopped beef brisket
Bones to pick The area surrounding the trailer can be very muddy, the 'cue is served covered in sauce, and Jim likes to talk...a lot.
Southwest corner of South Parker Road and Longs Way in Parker, 303-771-2641
Big Papa's BBQ
Order Big Papa's smoked meats as entrées or by the pound, and expect depth of flavor and just the right amount of caramelization. Indulge in a regional tour of Big Papa's barbecue sauces: Maggie's Deep South (tomato, vinegar, spicy and sweet), Heidi's Kansas City (sweet, thick, and tomato-based), Suzy's Carolina (spicy mustard), and Maureen's Memphis (slightly sweet and tomato-based).
Order up St. Louis-style spareribs, bison ribs, smoked chicken, barbecue beans, mac 'n' cheese, and fried okra
Bones to pick The beef brisket could use more smoke, and the meat is brushed with sauce before it's served.
6265 E. Evans Ave., Unit 1, 303-300-4499, and 12652 W. Ken Caryl Ave., Littleton, 720-922-3233, www.bigpapas-bbq.com
Countrytime, which opened in southwest Denver in August 2007, advertises its barbecue as "wood-pit smoked." (For proof look to the woodpile next to the smoker.) This new establishment is a bare-bones operation with a few stools, Styrofoam containers, plastic silverware, and ungodly good eats.
Order up Thick slices of well-smoked beef brisket, a generous mound of pulled pork, and medallions of spicy sausage
Bones to pick It's pretty much a take-out place without telling you so—and the staff doesn't always answer the phone.
2504 W. Hampden Ave., Sheridan, 720-404-1916
Hog Wild Barbecue
This unassuming spot in south Denver (formerly called Smoking Joe's Hickory Bar-BQ) puts out some surprisingly good barbecue. The Southern expatriates behind Hog Wild actually run two shops—one in Denver and one in Fort Collins.
Order up Smoked chicken, pork spareribs
Bones to pick The beef brisket tastes more like roast beef, and the kitchen puts too much sauce on the chopped brisket servings.
2103 S. Broadway, 720-570-0911, and 223 S. Link Lane, Fort Collins, 970-493-6029, www.hogwildcolorado.com