Archive for the ‘barbecue’ Tag

Kansas City Traditions   Leave a comment


The first thing to keep in mind at Gates Bar-B-Q is that the women taking the orders are not angry, even if they are intimidating. Before we had much time to look at the menu, let alone determine that we fully understood it, we were yelled at. It wasn’t may I please take your order, or even what may I get you? Instead, it was Are you ready to order — with an implicit YET?

I needed time before reaching the counter. Gates had a very different menu than I was familiar with. I’d heard of burnt ends, but not long ends or short ones. I finally figured out they referred to ribs. The sliced meats were easy, thank goodness.


Kansas City BBQ is known for the variety of meats ( beef, pork, mutton, turkey, etc.)  and sooty flavors thanks to the slow, low method of smoking. Sauces are added by individual diners, not the cooks in the kitchen. I ordered the burnt ends which were served piled high on a hoagie bun, which I barely touched. These are tender, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of shredded brisket and occasional bits of beef that came closest to the heat becoming slightly charred in the process. Not burnt as the name suggests, but like a crisped layer of skin. The Combo Plus 2 featured a choice of two meats served on slices of white bread. We opted for beef and pork which were piled far too high for the bread to contain.Again, the meats were tender and juicy even before the addition of any sauces, all with a ketchup, molasses and vinegar base.

Once we had our trays loaded with food, the women were all smiles and spoke in pleasant voices. That is until they hollered for the next order.

Gates Bar-B-Q

Four (Messy) Plates

Various locations throughout the Kansas City, MO., area

Lend an Ear and an Appetite   Leave a comment


Jabo’s Bar-Be-Q is located in a suburban Denver strip mall. It’s also the namesake of the owner who loves to talk as much as he enjoys serving his pit-smoked barbecue. What he seems to relish most is talking up his cooking.

The first thing Jabo asks is if you’ve been in before; without waiting for a response, he answers suggesting he’d remember if you had. He then gave an extensive explanation on how meats should be cooked, how different parts of the country have diverse definitions of barbecue and how he would match his sauces to our palates. My husband and I sat dumbfounded listening to what could have been perceived as a rant, but evolved into an interesting presentation. Before ordering, Jabo served a small tasting plate of that evening’s six different sauces. They ranged from super tangy to very spicy. He was more than happy to blend sauces or even kick up the heat level, if desired.


I opted for a combination of a maple and mango – yes mango. It was sweet, but not so much so that it was sugary. It complimented the fork-tender brisket served with baked beans and potato salad – the sides I selected from half a dozen.

The meal featured two “Utah Sconuts,” a cross between a sopapilla and beignet, with a dollop of honey butter. These, Jabo explained, were his wife’s contributions. We never saw her, but my guess is Jabo is the one who does most of the talking no matter who’s around.

Jabo’s Bar-Be-Q
Four Plates
9682 E. Arapahoe Rd.
Greenwood Village, Colo.

Barbecue Without Brisket?   2 comments


Bono is a better name for a rock star than a barbecue joint, especially when the latter doesn’t shine. We’ve eaten at Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q a few times. Although the food is fine, the primary reason is for its easy access from Interstate 25.

Our most recent visit left us perplexed. A small piece of tape was placed behind every use of the word beef. I was certain what was hidden was the word brisket. Our young server assured us that Bono’s had never served brisket – unless it had been delivered by mistake. Hhhmmm… He was also unable to explain what cut of beef is served, but he tried to assure us that it was less fatty and more flavorful. That, to me, seems like an oxymoron.


So, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich and one of my sons decided to brave it out and opt for the beef, whatever it was. While good with nice texture, it lacked depth.

The pork, on the other hand, was pulled and chopped; it had plenty of fat (perhaps too much since I could distinguish it) and loads of flavor. Several sauces are kept tableside to enhance the smoky hickory taste. My favorite was the sweet and tangy, which was a great balance between the two.


Perhaps the most baffling thing about the server’s claim about brisket never being part of Bono’s offerings is that it was – still is if one removes the tape. Funny thing is the online menu hasn’t caught up. Oops!

Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q

Three Plates
9393 East Dry Creek Rd.
Centennial, Colo.

Almost Home Cooking   2 comments


Beef brisket is one of the toughest cuts of meat around. In the right hands, it’s rendered fork-tender and full of flavor. Of course, it takes several hours to get that way, but Front Range Barbeque has both the touch and the time to get the right results.


The restaurant, in a modified bungalow in Old Colorado City, has several small, crowded rooms and a large outdoor dining area. The latter is enclosed and heated for year-round seating. It’s a comfortable setting for live music. Front Range is homey, busy and is a place to make friends with the people at nearby tables – because these are such cramped quarters. Servers maneuver through the small maze of diners, and everyone keeps their elbows close.

Once the food arrives, it’s easy to forget the jam-packed conditions and enjoy the meal. Besides the fall-apart-beef, Front Range knows how to do sides. The baked beans are thick with molasses and bits of shredded pork. Coleslaw is creamy, but not excessively so. The platters also feature mini-cornbread muffins and thinly-sliced onion rings.

The cooked-to-perfection meat takes center stage with its charred coat. It’s served dry, but three sauces, made in-house, provide the opportunity to enhance the taste. There’s Original Tangy, Sweet n’ Spicy, Mustard Wine. The latter is an unusual combination of Dijon mustard and white wine. It complemented the French fries better than it did the meat. The tangy has too much vinegar, while the sweet and spicy is just the right yin-yang combination.

Front Range Barbeque

Almost-Four Plates

2330 W. Colorado Ave.

Colorado Springs, CO

Tangy and Tender   1 comment

A few years ago, my family and I embarked on a barbecue quest. Our (ongoing) charge was to find
the best place for BBQ in Colorado Springs. We’ve also sampled in California, Wyoming, Denver,
Flagstaff and other locales – including New York City. While we aren’t ready to name a champ-
ion, we all agree that Bird Dog BBQ is among the top three anywhere – not just our hometown.

Our criteria were simple. We wanted the best in flavor, sides, and tender meats. Bird Dog scores
high in everything. Brisket, pulled or sliced, practically falls apart by just looking at it. Bursting
with smokiness that only comes from a low and slow technique, this is the kind of meat to dis-
suade anyone from becoming a vegetarian. Three in-house sauces are made daily. One has a sweet
and sour tanginess, while the other is an upgrade to spicy and tart. Taking it up a notch is one made
with Wasabi, but to be honest I like combing the two traditional sauces. Rumor has it there an ultra-
hot blend kept behind the counter.

Pulled Pork, Pork Sausage, Ribs and Chicken complete the meat offerings. The Pork is fork tender and
moist. Barbecue is nothing without Baked Beans, and the sweetened beans do not disappoint. Potato
Salad and Cole Slaw are other winners.

The decor is another reason Bird Dog scores high with my family. There are lots of photos, brought
in by diners, of dogs of all kinds. We keep meaning to take in a picture of ours: so we’ll get to return.

Bird Dog BBQ
Four Plates
5984 Stetson Hills Blvd. and 1645 Briargate Pkwy.
Colorado Springs
(Another location at 6965 Mesa Ridge
Fountain, CO., has not been visited)