Barbecue is probably not the first cuisine you would associate with Boulder restaurants. Still, whether you’re a southern transplant looking for a taste of home or a student at a Boulder culinary school interested in expanding your horizons, you might be surprised at at some of the authentic barbecue options available to you. As long as you appreciate dry rubbed meats cooked slowly over an open flame, you’ll find the bold flavors you want at these establishments:
Founded in Boulder in 1992, KT’s has since expanded to a chain of four restaurants, with a second location in Boulder, one in Denver and another in Broomfield. Its menu focuses on barbecue sandwiches, with pulled pork, smoked chicken, brisket and sausage all available, as well as St. Louis-style spare ribs. You can choose from three sauces: the sweet Tricia’s Texas sauce, vinegary Kirk’s Memphis sauce and spicy Double Diamond pepper sauce. If you like, you may also add coleslaw to your sandwich for no extra charge. The selection may be limited, but KT’s sells no-frills barbecue with the classic tastes you expect at a good value.
This wing joint caters to college students craving late night comfort food offering a range of sauces and dry rubs at varying levels of heat and sweetness, from Grizzlies Golden Honey to You’d Better Not. South Mouth gives the latter, its hottest sauce, an air of danger by requiring patrons to sign a waiver promising they will not hold the restaurant responsible for any resulting health problems. Among three varieties of crunch-style wings, the Funyun wings are coated in the dust from their namesake snack food. For those who want something other than poultry, a pulled pork sandwich is also available, as are Memphis fries, topped with pulled pork, cheddar cheese, cowboy pickles, crispy onions and a choice of sauce.
The Ghost BBQ and Spirits
The Ghost is a fresh addition to Downtown Boulder, opening its doors in late October 2015, but it looks likely to be a welcome one. The menu mingles old-school barbecue favorites with some unique touches sure to please the eclectic crowd on 14th Street. Dry rubbed brisket, smoked wings and pulled pork are all on hand. However, there is also a vegetarian pulled pork consisting of jackfruit, avocado and barbecue sauce on sunflower wheat bread, and the cornbread is gluten free.
Dark Horse Bar and Grill
This student-friendly dive has a long history in Boulder, serving pub fare and barbecue on Baseline Road since 1975. Dark Horse is known for counter service by an exceptionally witty staff, an excellent selection of craft beers on draft and an array of specialty burgers. However, the barbecue options are top-notch as well, including wings served with all three joints, rather than the more common two, St. Louis-style ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. The more adventurous can also try a regional delicacy by ordering Rocky Mountain oysters: deep fried bull testicles served with a side of horseradish.
Wayne’s Smoke Shack
If you’re willing to take a short drive southeast, you’ll find this strip mall outpost for exceptional Texas-style barbecue in the town of Superior. Proprietor Wayne Shelnutt hails from Texas, and it shows. In the finest Austin barbecue tradition, he believes in piling on the meat, serving ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken and fish by the pound. Sides of coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and barbecue beans are also available for $2 per scoop. In spite of the suburban location, Westword declared Wayne’s the best barbecue joint in Denver. If you’re planning a trip, however, keep in mind the restaurant is only open until 4 p.m., or whenever it runs out meat – whichever comes first.