Barbecue season is upon us, and there are some serious smoke signals rising from the south—just off I-25, that is. In recent years Colorado Springs has emerged as a barbecue hot spot. Here, our staples.

1/ B’z BBQ Company

Sometimes a barbecue restaurant’s surroundings portend an excellent product. That’s why we had a good feeling when we pulled up to B’z BBQ Company, a yellow trailer neighboring a brewery and a strip club. You won’t want to miss the burnt ends—a pile of properly charred beef brisket cubes stacked on a white bun and glazed with a sweet, tomato-based, Memphis-style “mopping and slopping” sauce. Beef brisket arrives sliced and brushed with more of the same. Pork ribs come as a half or full rack of house-sauced baby backs on top of a pile of French fries (which are a favorite of the dancers across the street). 625 Paonia St., Colorado Springs, 719-271-6881,

2/ Rudy’s Country Store Bar-B-Q

Rudy’s Country Store Bar-B-Q is the first Colorado outpost of a San Antonio chain. Although Rudy’s will eventually land in Denver, you shouldn’t wait that long for a taste. The unsauced meats are pulled from the pit, cut, weighed, and served on butcher paper. Our highest praise goes to the thick, smoky slices of beef brisket with a tiara of peppery seasoning and a texture so tender you can cut it with a plastic fork. When ordering brisket, you get three choices: “moist” (more fat), “extra lean,” or our pick, the “cutter’s choice,” which leaves the decision up to the guy with the knife. Other notables include the sliced pork loin, a lightly smoked chicken half, and the spicy turkey breast. 315 S. 31st St., Colorado Springs, 719-471-4120,

3/ Glad’s Original BBQ

At Glad’s Original BBQ, a soul food restaurant that regularly features barbecue, we savor the tender pork ribs bathed in a thin, honey-sweet sauce with a vinegary finish. Glad’s sides rotate daily, so check the website to see what’s offered. Bolster the meal with stewed black-eyed peas and earthy greens, and try a slice of 7-Up cake—a sweet pound cake that’s popular in the South. 3750 Astrozon Blvd., Colorado Springs, 719-392-4156; 1510 Chiles Ave., Fort Carson, 719-576-1851,

4/ Bird Dog BBQ

Folks have been lining up for years at Bird Dog BBQ. The self-proclaimed “Oklahoma-style” barbecue translates to meats smoked with oak and sauces served on the side. We go for the slightly smoky pulled pork and the juicy chicken halves, which offer a lot of bird with a crisp skin, dry-rubbed with peppery spices. 5984 Stetson Hills Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, 719-596-4900; 1645 Briargate Parkway, Colorado Springs, 719-599-4655,

Eating Out
For a change of pace, get your barbecue to-go and have a picnic in one of the Springs’ impressive outdoor parks.

  • Not far from Rudy’s lies the scenic Garden of the Gods. The two picnic locations—the Scotsman and the South Spring Canyon—have limited seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. 1805 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-6666,
  • North of Colorado Springs you’ll find Fox Run Regional Park. Take Exit 156A from I-25 and head east to reach this spacious park’s five picnic pavilions. 110 Stella Drive, Colorado Springs, 719-520-6375,
  • With multiple picnic areas, you can pick the perfect spot to gaze at the mountains while you munch at Palmer Regional Park. Afterward, take a walk along one of the many trails. 3650 Maizeland Road, 719-385-5940,