SubscribeAvailable Now
  • Colorado Barbecue Gets Creative

    Pioneering pit masters are ushering in a brave new era of barbecue.

     •  

    As barbecue fever rages on nationwide, local experts are on trend, putting out stellar grub and, in true Western spirit, breaking many of the unofficial rules of the cuisine. In honor of National Barbecue Month, we rounded up the next-gen smoke whisperers redefining Colorado ’cue.


    The Rule: Pitmasters have to be dudes.

    The Rebel: Ragin’ Hog BBQ4361 Lowell Blvd., 303-859-6003

    The Spin: Colleen Van Tuyl spends just as much time working the smoker at this tiny Berkeley joint as her husband, Stacey.

    Don’t Miss: Juicy chopped pork and the tangy Memphis-style sauce (one of five regional options)

    GQ Championship BBQ
    Photograph courtesy of Adam Larkey

    The Rule: Barbeque is regional

    The Rebel: GQue Championship BBQ; 5160 W. 120th Ave., Unit K, Westminster, 303-379-9205

    The Spin: Jason Ganahl’s competition-style fare eschews any one style, aiming for a crowd-pleasing middle ground based on his award-winning custom spice rub and not-too-sweet sauces.

    Don’t Miss: Brown-sugar-glazed spareribs and smoked chicken wings


    The Rule: Barbecue joints don’t serve the hard stuff

    The Rebel: Globe Hall; 4483 Logan St., 303-296-1003

    The Spin: Along with a full bar, Globe Hall boasts a live music venue complete with a dance floor for boot scootin’.

    Don’t Miss: Local and national acts (like one-woman band Kawehi on May 6) paired with an Elder Gimlet (gin, lime, St-Germain, and soda) and never-dry brisket

    LuLu's BBQ
    LuLu’s BBQ. Photograph by Sarah Boyum

    The Rule: Barbecue is synonymous with meat.

    The Rebel: LuLu’s BBQ; 701 Main St., Unit B, Louisville, 720-583-1789

    The Spin: It’s no surprise that a Boulder County spot would cater to vegetarians, but even carnivores will be amazed at how deliciously LuLu’s smoky tofu stands in for the real deal.

    Don’t Miss: The smoked breaded tofu, which comes with sliced avocado and fresh greens,
    plus two sides

    Kitchen Table Cafe
    Kitchen Table Cafe. Photograph by Sarah Boyum

    The Rule: Sides go…on the side.

    The Rebel: Owlbear Barbecue; 2826 Larimer St. (set to open mid-summer), 970-708-3954

    The Spin: Owner Karl Fallenius has moved mac and cheese to the center of the plate (well, bowl), where you can top it with any of his smoked meats.

    Don’t Miss: Classic, tangy pulled pork or innovative pastrami on the mac and cheese bowl


    The Rule: Sides are set in stone.

    The Rebel: Kitchen Table Cafe; 1426 E. 22nd Ave., 720-456-6967

    The Spin: Ultra-friendly owner Dave Kilroy serves the standard coleslaw and mashed potatoes, but he also dishes up a bright kale-avocado salad.

    Don’t Miss: The pie of the day, especially if it’s raspberry- or peanut-butter-chocolate

    The Rule: Pork and beef are the only acceptable proteins.

    The Rebel: Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que; 2387 S. Downing St., 303-722-2226

    The Spin: Two-year-old Roaming Buffalo makes the case for a definitive Colorado style of ’cue with locally sourced lamb and bison.

    Don’t Miss: Meaty, bone-in lamb shank and bison back ribs

    What We're Reading

    Newsletters

    Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

    Sign Up