On the title track of his 1984 album, country music legend George Strait famously recorded the melancholy song “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?” Almost two decades later, Fort Worth often did cross the mind of Nick Prince, who longed for his hometown’s barbecue when he moved to Colorado in 2000 to attend the University of Colorado Boulder. Prince was a successful commercial banker, but his Texas barbecue daydreams became so frequent and intense that, one day during a lunch break, he impulsively went to Home Depot and purchased a smoker. The next day, he smoked a pork butt and was so pleased with the results that he immediately contracted what he calls “the smoking disease.” After years spent as a weekend warrior and some time on the local competition barbecue circuit, Prince opened Post Oak Barbecue this June in the Berkeley neighborhood.
Post Oak’s strong Texas vibe will soothe the soul of any homesick Texan. As soon as you walk in, the line forms for you to place your order and watch the meat carved right before your eyes. Prince sublimely smokes the beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork spareribs, house-made sausages (a mix of pork and brisket trimmings), and turkey breast with post oak wood regularly delivered to the restaurant from Texas. All were delicious, but we were most impressed by the succulent and five spice-rubbed pork spareribs. You’ll have to look elsewhere for the ubiquitous burnt ends because Prince doesn’t serve them: “It’s not really a Texas deal,” he says.
Prince also gives a nod to the emerging Tex-Mex trend by giving diners the choice of turning any smoked meat into a taco. Don’t miss the addictive crispy-on-the-outside-but-tender-on-the-inside chicken wings that are smoked, fried, and dusted with barbecue spices. Post Oak also has off-the-menu specials like beef ribs, which are served every Saturday.
To complement the barbecue, Post Oak serves interesting side dishes, many of which are Texas-inspired. Prince uses gallons of Shiner Bock beer, pinto beans, and meat trimmings to make his tasty “drunken” beans. The creamy macaroni and cheese contains six different cheeses spiked with diced bacon and chopped jalapeño. The coleslaw is heavy on the fresh cabbage, but it could have used more cider vinegar and cilantro dressing. The fried Brussels sprouts are the most intriguing.
“We started out using Brussels sprout petals, and they came out well,” Prince says. “But, when people ordered them, it wasn’t what they expected, so we had to switch to the typical halves.” The results are glorious, and the savory sprouts are doused with a creamy, Sriracha-flavored barbecue sauce.
Be sure to wash your meal down with any of the Mexico-sourced soft drinks available, such as Topo Chico mineral water. If you still have some room for dessert, the mini pecan pie satisfies, and we highly recommend the dense, super-sweet, and custard-like “gooey butter cake” that is a St. Louis-area specialty.
Post Oak Barbecue will remind your heart, mind, and taste buds of Texas, but the rest of your body will love that you can get such great barbecue in Denver.
4000 Tennyson St., 303-458-1555. Tuesday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m.