If there’s one thing that can spark a debate among food lovers, it’s who has the best barbecue. My friends and family would consider me a pretty good judge, considering I once drove all the way from Denver to Kansas City and back (in less than 3 days!) just to get some authentic KC barbecue. Here are five of my favorites in the Denver metro area and along the Front Range. My advice when going out for BBQ: wear grubby clothes (cause you’re going to get some on ya!) and bring plenty of dental floss.

(credit: bbqdenver.com)

Big Papa’s BBQ

6265 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, Colo. 80222
(303) 300-4499

12652 W. Ken Caryl Ave.
Littleton, Colo. 80127
(720) 922-3233

5151 S. Federal Blvd.
Littleton, Colo. 80123
(303) 476 6245

The original location on Evans opened in 2004. They bill themselves as “Deep Southern Style,” but offer 4 different sauces, including “Heidi’s Kansas City,” which happens to be my favorite. They also have 4 different types of ribs: St. Louis style, baby backs, beef and bison. If you go on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, the beef and bison ribs are all you can eat. I also like their Po Boy sandwiches, which come in pork, brisket, chicken, turkey, fried catfish or spicy hot link. For $7.49 you can get a Po Boy, side and a drink. The Mac ‘n Cheese here is to die for!

(credit: nordysbbq.com)


4360 St. Cloud Drive,
Loveland, Colo. 80543
(970) 461-9227

151 North College Ave.
Fort Collins, Colo. 80524
(970) 568-8358

If you’re headed to an event at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, be sure to allow extra time to stop by this nearby Northern Colorado barbecue joint. The first thing you’ll notice at Nordy’s is the Texas motif, and in fact their slogan is “so good … even Texans don’t mess with us.” If you’re really hungry, go for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet Monday through Friday for $9.95. I’d also recommend the St. Louis Rib N’ Meat combo, with ribs that are smoked just right (the meat falls off the bone) and your choice of one of seven other meats and two sides. My favorite side is the deep fried corn on the cob; it’s a taste that will linger with you for months! They have four barbecue sauces: Texas Style, Kansas City, Carolina Mustard and (my personal favorite) Jalapeno. Families can opt for the family feast, which includes more food than you’ll know what to do with. Finally, don’t leave here without trying one of the homemade desserts! This is a place that’s always packed and the service is quick and super-friendly.

(credit: samtaylorsbbq.com)

Sam Taylor’s Bar-B-Q

Main: 435 S. Cherry St.
Glendale, Colo. 80246
(303) 388-9300

Sam Taylor’s Xpress: 4666 S. Yosemite
Greenwood Village, Colo. 80111
(303) 320-9300

At Sam Taylor’s, the wait staff would be proud to tell you they smoke all of their meats daily, and as soon as you walk in the door, you can smell how true that statement is. This place has a long history in the Denver area and has a very loyal following. Be prepared to wait; remember: good barbecue takes time! You can’t go wrong with just about anything you get here, but I always go for the hot wings and the Sammade (homemade) Potato Chips. The honey hot sauce on those wings is among the best I’ve ever tasted, and you’ll be soppin’ it up with those delicious chips. The rib tips are a good choice, too. They have daily lunch specials priced from $6.50 – $9. This is also the place to go if you want a good smoked turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Note that the menu at the Sam Taylor’s Xpress is limited compared to the main restaurant in Glendale.

(credit: hickoryhouseribs.com)

Hickory House Ribs

10335 S. Parker Rd.
Parker, Colo. 80134
(303) 805-9742

730 W. Main St.
Aspen, Colo. 81611
(970) 925-2313

This place shouldn’t be hard to find, just look for the giant bear outside. If that doesn’t work, look for the crowd, because every time I’ve gone here it’s packed! This is another place that is well worth the wait. They have a sign when you walk in that says “best ribs in Colorado” and I can attest to that! They’ve won numerous awards at barbecue competitions all over the country, and the quality of their baby back ribs is unmatched in Colorado. The meat falls off the bone and that tangy barbecue sauce (regular or spicy) is like an out-of-body experience. Before you even get to the ribs, be sure to try their homemade onion rings as an appetizer; get the “mother lode” size and share! It’s a great place for families to go and I promise, you’ll never leave here hungry!

credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Brickyard BBQ

4243 W. 38th Ave.
Denver, Colo. 80212
(303) 561-4875

311 E. County Line Rd.
Littleton, Colo. 80122
(303) 797-9255

If you’re looking for authentic, Kansas City style barbecue in the Denver area, this is the place to go. Whether it’s pork, chicken, brisket, hot links, ribs or their famous “burnt ends,” you’d swear after one bite that you’re 600 miles east of Denver. The owner is a Kansas City native. The meats are slow smoked and oh so flavorful, and the sauce (whether it’s regular or spicy) is spot on. They have a lunch special consisting of a sandwich, side and drink for $6.95. Make it a true backyard barbecue experience and get yourself some of their red Kool-Aid to drink! After you’re done eating you can write a message on their walls about how much you enjoyed your meal.

— Alan Singer