In honor of Independence Day — the holiday, not the Will Smith movie — we sought out the obvious friend of Fourth of July parties: fireworks! I mean, um ... barbecue! And instead of sticking to the obvious spots, we ventured to some Springs satellites to show a bit of brotherly love.
There's something about barbecue that whispers sultry, sweet nuthins to our primitive sides, probably dating back to our Paleolithic ancestors' charring of the day's catch. Or maybe it dates back to the first time as a kid that you tore pork from a bone with your teeth as a sweet or spicy sauce lit up your tongue and smeared your cheeks and you suddenly realized that true happiness is attainable, if only at dinner time.
Either way, where flame and smoke meet meat, we'll be there.
Broken Bones Smokin' Pit
481 State Hwy. 105, Suite G, Monument, 487-0471
After hauling his massive smoker around town for a few months, former construction worker Frank Molina settled into the former Bayou BBQ in a Monument plaza a year ago. He calls his mesquite- and pecan-wood-smoked barbecue style "Southwestern," combining his Arizona roots and some Texas flair.
His large combo platter ($11.26) delivered three meats (I doubled down on ribs), two sides and a drink. The pre-cut ribs were slightly dry, and while good, were overmatched by perfectly pink-rimmed, tender beef brisket. Moist with a thin layer of trimmed fat, the brisket was enhanced by a homemade zesty mustard barbecue sauce. The crisp sweet potato fries were also solid, as were baked beans flecked with sausage and still-crunchy bell peppers. — Monika Mitchell Randall
The Smokin' Q
11027 U.S. Hwy. 24, Divide, 687-5800, thesmokinq.com
An employee spied our dog in the car and had a brisket treat ready at the order counter, where I was told the meats are hormone-free and the rainbow trout comes via a Buena Vista farm.
The Kenny was an easy decision: smoked trout, cabbage, pickles, jalapeños, onions, cilantro, lime and homemade salsa snug in a flour tortilla ($5.99, $7.99 with beans and a drink). The trout was wonderfully smoky from apple and cherry wood, and I loved the crunchy fresh elements, but asked for extra salsa to combat the tortilla's dryness. The house slaw was decent, and the brown sugar baked beans were a treat. A pulled pork sandwich ($6.58) could benefit from a less pedestrian bun, but showed off excellently prepared, moist meat and delightful house barbecue sauces. (We ordered both mild and hot, on the side.) — Matthew Schniper
6679 Camden Blvd., Fountain, 651-1453, coloradosmokehouse.net
In a building the size of a large shed, I found nirvana in a foam container.
Though technically a half-rack ($11.95), the sweet-sauce-slathered ribs came piled thick and high, melting off the bone at the mere suggestion of separation. Owner Shawn Richards' chili rub offered definition, while a one-two punch of initial smoke over mesquite, followed by an apple wood finish, gave them down and dirty life.
Though he hails from Kansas, Richards has a propensity for barbecue promiscuity, packing multiple sauces and styles into his tiny smokehouse. A thin and spicy, vinegar-laden sauce arrived bright orange on a heaping pulled pork sandwich plate ($6.95), which featured thick baked beans laced with shreds of brisket. As with the ribs, the plate could barely contain the mounds of smoky satisfaction. — Bryce Crawford