Previously on "Big Dave's Barbecue Roundup": I checked the phone book, asked around, and simply roamed restlessly in search of the perfect "Q." All that matters is that I just can't stop smiling while I eat it.
My first foray led me to Paul's Kitchen where you can get Hong Kong beef and pulled pork on the same plate. I went in search of D & V's Backyard BBQ, and I can honestly say I have never eaten better barbecued chicken anywhere.
And now, the gripping conclusion of "Big Dave's Barbecue Roundup."
Feeling a bit fatigued from my journeys, I decided to make a stop close to home, at Front Range Barbeque on the edge of Old Colorado City. On their recommendation, I went for the combo platter of ribs and brisket ($12.95). Maybe I caught them on a bad day, but their brisket was not impressive. It had a good flavor, but it was too tough for my taste. The half slab of ribs, which you can order "sauced" or "naked" (meaning they received a coat of dry rub before heading into the smoker), was much better. Front Range describes their rub as "unique," and rightly so: It features an array of herbs and possibly some curry, cumin or turmeric, which makes for interesting color and an original flavor. Front Range is also friendlier to the herbivore than most other barbecue places, offering salads and garden burgers.
Looking for something more serious, I went out to Glad's, just off Fountain at Jet Wing. Their family operation brings a bit of Alabama to the Springs and the conviction that "people from Alabama just know how to prepare food properly." Southern barbecue relies heavily on hickory smoke, which had gently kissed my ribs and chicken ($13.75). A bit more smoke might have helped deepen the flavors, but the zippy sauce picked up the slack. A pretty good plate of "Q" all in all, with the ribs leading the way. But soon the cravings came back and I needed another fix.
A local chef pointed me to the Davis Family Restaurant, attached to the Prime Time Tavern, in the heart of downtown. It had been hiding right under my nose, within wafting distance of the Independent's offices. After twice finding them sold out, the third try yielded a plate stacked high with ribs and brisket. I decided to share the prize with others back at the Independent, where a veritable feeding frenzy ensued. The deep pink rings around each rib and tender slice of brisket proved that the Davis family took its barbecue seriously. All that smoke made the meat taste good, and the rusty, salty sauce kept our lips smacking until the brisket was gone and the bones were clean. We also liked the mustard-spiked potato salad and hearty, homemade macaroni and cheese that accompanied the meal. As the fragrance lingered in the halls, we all agreed that this was good stuff.
Could I handle any more barbecue? I had to find out, had to make sure I left no stone unturned. Hoping to keep my good luck going, I headed out to D & D Bar-B-Que. Tucked into a little strip mall on Delta Drive just north of Hancock, they offer Texas-style brisket, spare ribs and links. I have often scoffed at the "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper sticker slogan, but when it comes to D & D's Texas barbecue, believe it. The brisket -- not shredded, but melted -- easily pulled apart with a plastic fork, and you could have simply inhaled the meat off of the rib bones. A rich, dark sauce played perfectly against the smoke, propelling me toward barbecue euphoria.
Driving home, fighting a food-coma, I realized I had reached the end of my adventures. I had found three barbecue joints where I was sure to get that happy feeling when I needed it. Funny thing is, I never had to look any farther than the first letter of my first name. If you want the best barbecue this town has to offer, look for the letter D: D & D Bar-B-Que, Davis Family Restaurant, and D & V's Backyard Barbeque. D & D wins for brisket, Davis Family for ribs, and D & V for chicken. The Juice (pit master of D & V) also has the best atmosphere and his dark, brooding spicy sauce is the best in town. Although each has its own style, they all make me smile, and that's what eating barbecue is all about. That's all for my Roundup. If I missed a winner, write the Independent and let me know.
-- To read part one of "Big Dave's Barbecue Roundup, see http://www.csindy.com/csindy/2004-05-06/appetite.html.
Front Range Barbeque
2230 West Colorado Ave.
Tuesday Sunday. from 11 a.m.
Glad's Original Bar-B-Q
1683 Jet Wing Dr., just north of Fountain
Tuesday Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 7:30 p.m.
Davis Family Restaurant
230 Pueblo Ave., where Cimarron meets Wahsatch
Sunday Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight
D & D Bar-B-Que
Tuesday Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2551 Delta Drive, at Hancock