The Barbecue God smiled down upon Denver's dining scene this year. From the sheer volume of barbecue spots that fired up the smokers and grills, to established dining fixtures featuring barbecue items on their menus, Denver really embraced the smoke, fire, meat, and sides.
November was a huge month for Mile High City barbecue. Globe Hall fired up both the smokers and the dance floor in Globeville with its clever multipurpose approach, Carve on Colorado Boulevard launched its fast-casual barbecue model in November, and GQue Championship BBQ brought Kansas City style barbecue to Westminster.
The fabulous Dae Gee Korean BBQ, the right crossover of the Asian food and barbecue trends that were each so prominent in Denver this past year, announced in June that it would be opening its third location on South Broadway in 2016. The Korean barbecue eatery also hosted Guy Fieri and company while filming an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives over the summer. In other announcements, Crazy Mountain Brewery revealed its plans for a tap room serving barbecue fare in Breckenridge Brewery's former space on Kalamath.
It was also a big year for food truck developments in the barbecue category. Take Rolling Smoke BBQ for example, a popular barbecue truck which announced it would be joining the collection at the highly anticipated Stanley Marketplace when it opens. Another beloved mobile purveyor of barbecued meats, Big Country BBQ, opened in a building in Sunnyside in May, while new on the scene, Turn-In BBQ food truck took to the streets in the summer months as well. One of the hottest openings of the year, Finn's Manor in RiNo, really turned up the heat when it added Owlbear BBQ food truck to its food truck bazaar.
With so much growth and expansion in barbecue options this year, Denver also lost two barbecue eateries: Spruce Tap House in RiNo and Tennyson Street BBQ in Berkeley.
The barbecue trend was not limited to new restaurant openings this year - barbecue cookery and techniques made a splash in some of Denver's most acclaimed restaurants. The Acorn/OAK crew does very attractive things with a smoker and wood-fired oven. Testament to that is the large order smoked pork shoulder with tangy, acidic tomato-based sauce, purple-eyed peas, and brioche Texas toast that Acorn recently added to its menu. Blackbelly in Boulder has a smoker in-house and smokes meats to perfection, while The Chowder Room makes an excellent version of barbecue shrimp served with thick-cut garlic toast, and Meadowlark Kitchen serves smoked brisket by the half pound with a hunk of cornbread.
Disclosure: The editor is married to one of the developers behind The Source.