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‘Tis the Season

A Colorado spruce heads to Washington.

The Christmas tree that lights up Washington, D.C., can’t be just any Charlie Brown tangle of sparse needles and frail limbs. Every year since 1964, a commanding tree has lit up the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. This year, it’s Colorado’s turn to send one of its prized Engelmann spruces east to be the People’s Tree. A team from White River National Forest narrowed down the choices to 12 before the superintendent of Capitol grounds handpicked the winner. We break down the tradition.

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’Tis the Season

Get your barbecue on in Colorado Springs.

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,

This article was originally published in 5280 June 2011.
Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller is a Denver-based writer, speaker and soul food scholar. He’s the author of Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue.