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

This article was originally published in 5280 May 2017.
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.