Thursday, March 08, 2007

BBQ, The Great Unifier, at work in Denver

Last night I dined at Wolfe's Barbecue in Denver, right across from the state capitol in a neighborhood that seemed unusually seedy. Wolfe's is like the dingy Chinese restaurant of the barbecue world, a one-man operation in a small storefront. [Read all about it here.] I had the address written down and walked right past the place on my first attempt.

Wolfe himself seems like a real character. He's a short, white-bearded dude in an apron. He charges $.50 for use of a credit card, $2 to make change for non-customers, and he gets free web hosting out of his Sam's Club business membership.

His BBQ, however, cuts no corners. To attain surprisingly authentic flavor, he uses a hickory/charcoal combo to smoke his meat. I tried the three-course dinner: brisket, pork, and beef sausage were my meat selections. The brisket was thin-sliced and a little dry, with a faint, smoky flavor. The edges were also a bit fatty. The pork turned out to be big, delicious, and smoky chunks--not pulled or chopped, and thus dippable in Wolfe's sauce. The sausage was the real surprise. The "all beef" links had the perfect blend of flavor and heat.

"It's made for me, using my own recipe," Wolfe told me. "No nitrites or preservatives."

For my two sides, I chose BBQ beans and slaw. The slaw was tasty, though not extremely fresh. The beans were delicious--probably store-bought, then doctored with ketchup, spice, and pork. I went up for seconds. Wolfe said I could pay "a buck or a buck and a nickel." I gave him a ten dollar bill, and he scoffed, audibly, at having to make change.

As I doused my dinner roll in hot, house recipe barbecue sauce, over-under-dressed hipsters with bad tattoos ordered bbq tofu sandwiches and discussed having their bands play together. State house types in suits came in and got some cue to power them through a boring night of research. And proprietors of other East Colfax businesses also came in to pick up dinner.

An anomaly like this deserves to last. I only wish I had heard about the lemon pie before leaving town.

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