Once I wrote about Rudy’s barbecue, and people didn’t care much for my opinion. They hurled insults and hurt my feelings (just kidding — I don’t have feelings).
So it’s always with great trepidation that I write about barbecue because someone’s likely to disagree. Fine. Disagree. I’ve probably said this before, but arguing about barbecue is like arguing about your favorite color. You like what you like.
Anyway, we like the two-car-garage-size Colorado Smokehouse a great deal. Shame about having to be in Fountain, but it’s worth the trip. Maybe someday they’ll have a downtown location!
Colorado Smokehouse does things a little differently than other BBQ spots. Instead of focusing on one type, like Kansas City style or Memphis, Colorado Smokehouse offers a variety. Smart move. And the workers when we were there were very nice and accommodating with all our dumb questions.
Even The Gazette and The Indy agree: This is fine, fine barbecue. And when your two major papers come together like this in praise of food (“nirvana in a foam container”), well, it almost makes you think all the world’s problems can be solved if only everyone’d just sit down somewhere and have some barbecue.
Adrienne had the chicken sandwich with the Carolina vinegar sauce. Her side was the macaroni and cheese, which has bacon in it (they might consider adding that info on the menu for the weird people like Adrienne who try to not eat bacon).
I had the brisket with the sweet BBQ sauce. Next time, I think I'd like something with a little more kick, but this was delicious. The baked beans were incredible. Best I've had in Colorado, I think. We've heard good things about their desserts, too, but we were too full. Next time.
It’s important when eating barbecue to eat as much as you possibly can. Stuff as much food into your dumb gullet as you can without rupturing your stomach. Only when you’re bloated and nearly rolling off the chair and onto the floor can you truly appreciate the subtleties of good barbecue. When you think you’ve had enough, and you push your plate away slightly, go ahead and have one more bite.
As you might recall, I’ve been skewered here for my thoughts on Rudy’s, so there’s clearly some pretty passionate opinions about barbecue. And I might be losing the battle on high-fructose corn syrup. Rudy’s lists it as the main ingredient in its sauce, which I criticized. Fact is, it’s hard to find a sauce that doesn’t have HFCS. It’s a shame because sugar is better. I don’t know what’s in Charlie’s sauce.
One thing Charlie’s gets right is the laid-back and casual atmosphere. A genuine one. And excellent service.
Couple small things, though. No website, Charlie’s? What gives? I know you have one for the Manitou location, but is that one even still open? The Charlie’s we went to is on Fillmore a few blocks east of Nevada. So you need a more robust web presence and some info about your location(s).
Also, we used a Restaurant.com coupon, and the Charlie’s people automatically included an 18 percent tip. We’re pretty good tippers, and we would have probably tipped at least 18 percent if not more (in fact, we did leave a few bucks extra even beyond the 18 percent). Automatically including the tip is tacky, and restaurants shouldn’t do it. At the same time, you’re getting a pretty decent deal with these kinds of coupons, so customers should realize this and be just as generous. If only the world worked that way.
At any rate, the food? Well, we ate a lot of it, so that ought to say something.
Generous portions at Charlie's.
The chicken dinner at Charlie's.
Look how happy Adrienne is. No matter what's going on in her world, put a plate of barbecue in front of her, and she's a happy girl.
Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q
First of all, I want to clear one thing up right now: The quotation marks on “Country Store” are Rudy’s, not mine. In fact, they ought to be docked a full letter grade for indiscriminate use of quotation marks. But since we’re talking barbecue and not punctuation, I’ll let it slide. (But really, people, don’t do this. Don’t just go putting quotation marks any old place. It’s weird.)
Apparently, Rudy’s has a pretty big following, so were were excited when one landed in the Springs. At first glance, it looks very much like a place I’d want to eat barbecue: very informal, warehousey. But it felt phony. Like those faux-vintage Coca-Cola signs you see everywhere. The picnic-table seating, the red and white checkered tablecloth, the rolls of paper towels, the pop-your-own-top Coke in bottles — it all just seemed to be trying too hard.
And the gas station? Oh, I’m sorry: “Country Store.” What’s that about? It’s kind of cool that there’s a gas station attached to the restaurant, but do we really need another gas station? That felt gimmicky, too.
But all of this is really immaterial. We’re here to eat barbecue, right? Turns out the barbecue is only OK. The sauce was fairly typical, the kind you can buy at any grocery store, made mostly with high fructose corn syrup. Tasty, for sure. But ultimately unsatisfying.
Barbecue needs character, and you don’t get character from HFCS. Compare Rudy’s to this place in Kansas City, LC’s Bar-B-Q. The place had character. Of course they were shut down for health code violations earlier this year, but whatever. The food was amazing. And besides, what kind of pansy-ass life do you live where you can’t risk a little food poisoning for some barbecue heaven?
The interior of Rudy’s BBQ. Nice and faux-informal. A little too purposefully imperfect for my taste.
You find this sign in a box in your grandmother’s attic, you’ve got a pretty cool sign. Find it at Target, and it’s not so cool.
The girlfriend ordered the brisket sandwich.
I had the “moist brisket.” Tasty enough. But nothing spectacular.
Now this is how you do barbecue.
Mmmmm. Can you taste that? It’s called “awesome.” Shame about those damn health codes. Always trying to keep a man down.