You’d be surprised to find that a modern Chinese restaurant makes some of the tastiest chilli-grated ribs in Denver. Or that Colorado bison rib meat is oh so tender and practically falls off the bone. Did you know there’s a new pastrami rib in town? And that it is served with hot mustard in a cocktail bar in Lower Downtown?
The more rib knowledge you collect, the more you learn about important questions such as: “But where are my ribs on your rack?”
“I first saw this at M & D’s Barbecue and Fish Palace, a now closed Denver restaurant,” Adrian Miller wrote in his 2021 book Black Smoke. “I was intrigued by what the menu called ‘the little end’ (a rack of pork ribs). … For an intact set of spare ribs, these were the smaller bones on the opposite end of the larger, meatier bones. She described the M&D menu as “the filet mignon of ribs”. “
From fine fillets to cola-sprinkled, here are some really excellent and interesting ribs to try this weekend and all summer long.
Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que
Colorado bison back ribs are the center of attraction at this local grill joint founded by Coy and Rachael Webb on Denver’s South Downing Street. The bison comes from the Rock River Ranches in Commerce City, and as head chef Adam Oglesby describes it, the meat is high in iron and tastes similar to steak on the bone. Here, after half of their 4-hour smoking time, the ribs are given a house cream and a Coca-Cola spray. Bison meat is also rated before smoking because it’s so lean and has lots of tendons, Oglesby explained. But that’s not bad: the breakdown of connective tissue makes these ribs even more tender. ($ 3.25 single, $ 13 half rack, $ 21 full)
2387 S. Downing St., roamingbuffalobbq.com
The new head chef at this Blake Street bar, JV Hernandez, spices up a casual dinner menu with dishes like striped bass crudo and sweetcorn fritters, which are delicious in their own right. But the biggest stars of the show (a little surprisingly) are these pastrami pork ribs. According to Hernandez, they start with a two-day brine in molasses, brown sugar, pickling seasoning, and honey. Then they are cooked sous vide for six hours “until they are super tender. We give them a quick roast, then toss them in pastrami seasoning and serve them with flavorful beer mustard. ”A bit like a deli sandwich, only better. ($ 13)
1526 Blake St., brasstacksdinebar.com
Chef Christopher Lin’s Shacha BBQ spare ribs might grab your attention on his Taiwanese menu of beef tongue and tripe, wok-fried cheung fun, and Shanghai bok choy. The ribs are coated with chopped peanuts, fried garlic, chilli and chives and served on a spicy sauce with similar ingredients. The name of this dish comes from this sauce that is widely used in Taiwan and translated (quite loosely) into Chinese BBQ in the West. But shacha is made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chillies, smooth fish, and dried shrimp (or similar combinations), which gives it a complex and distinctly spicy taste. ($ 25)
3421 E. Colfax Ave., qhousedenver.com
Post Oak Barbecue
For your traditional Texas-style pork ribs, the Post Oak’s are hard to beat. Owner Nick Prince starts off with a St. Louis-Cut Heritage Rack and layers on kosher salt as well as garlic, black pepper, paprika, and sugar (his house pork seasoning). He smokes the ribs over Texas Post Oak wood for about three hours. Then there is a thin layer of “rib juice” with barbecue sauce, Dr. Pepper “and other delicious ingredients”. The ribs, wrapped in foil, cook for an hour before they can be cut, served and eaten. ($ 3.50 single, $ 18 half rack, $ 29 full rack)
4000 Tennyson St., postoakdenver.com
And one to look at: Plates from the pound BBQ
Haven’t tried any meat from Aaron Gonerway’s weekend BBQs, but his ribs come highly recommended. The aspiring Pitmaster is one of 13 recipients of the Kingsford Preserve the Pit Fellowship 2021, which is committed to preserving America’s black grill traditions. Gonerway first found out about his uncle, Glen, who smoked “anything” when he was growing up in Clarksville, Texas. Denver-based Gonerway provides catering through its website and sells plates of smoked meat in pounds sterling on most weekends. You’ll find it next on July 10th, but you’ll need to check for pre-orders on social media.
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