Secrets of the Suburbs

From gourmet pizzerias and beer gardens to eclectic boutiques and Asian markets, our Mile High suburbs are overflowing with places worth discovering. We’ve pulled together an assortment of spots that embody the vibrant, appealingly quirky spirit of our city’s outlying areas. 

April 2011

Smokin’ Hot

It’s impossible to wax too poetic about good barbecue, but we’re gonna try anyhow. No matter what your favorite style of ’cue happens to be—Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina—you’ll lick your fingers clean after a meal at Hoke’s BBQ (www.hokesbbq.com) in Westminster. Everything at this place passes for delicious, but our money is on the tender beef brisket and flavorful chopped pork. The fall-off-the-bone ribs ain’t half bad either. For a little heat, try the German hot links paired with a cold brewski—now that’s barbecue heaven.


And Finally, Bliss

How we left our house in the city behind, only to arrive…home. By Michael Henry

When my wife and I decided to move from Denver to the suburbs several years ago, I had waking nightmares of a new life: day-long, stressed-out trips to Costco, unchecked weight gain in the gut region, a frantic obsession with Kentucky bluegrass, and the desire to own a gun, for no reason at all.

But there was no way around it. Our historic Victorian in trendy, up-and-coming Curtis Park was just too damn small. With two growing daughters, we needed square footage: A crib shoehorned into a closet is no place for a baby to sleep. We also figured it was about time we started paying back our student loans—which meant we would be priced out of our own neighborhood. We threw open the I Ching—an ancient method of divination for those freaking out about big decisions—and its message said, “Traveler: You are not defined by where you are.”

OK, we thought. Suburbia it is. Thornton, to be exact. I thought we’d never survive. I feared we would become strangers to ourselves—shells of our former on-the-go personalities. Nonetheless, we bid adieu to our just-edgy-enough ’hood and followed the moving van north on I-25.

To our amazement, it’s been a pleasant surprise. We have a spacious four-bedroom house, complete with a totally rad 1980s hot tub. Across the street there’s a playground, a tennis court, and a roller hockey rink. Our daughters ride their bikes to school. We rollerblade and play tennis whenever we like. We love spotting the rust-colored fox that rules the neighborhood. In the garage, I have a workbench where I keep a hammer, some screwdrivers, and an impressive assortment of duct tape. I’ve yet to spend more than 30 minutes in any big-box store, Costco or otherwise.

Our neighborhood might not be considered hip, but it’s a peaceful place, with mesmerizing Colorado sunsets we relish from our back porch. Because, yes, we have a porch—and two apple trees, and a garden our former selves would’ve killed for. And, well, all those extras we’d wished for but could never quite fit into our historic city digs. Truthfully, we cherish these comforts. Our daughters cherish them, too. And that’s important. We may be traveling through, but it sure feels like home right now.