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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 BBQ; 4361 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)
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
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
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