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Home on the Range



Barbecue is not what I normally think of as a Colorado food, but in the past several years about five reliable places, dedicating themselves to the way of the smoke pit, have popped up locally. Front Range Barbeque is the newest entry.

Located in Old Colorado City, in what was probably at one time a pretty cool old house, Front Range Barbeque doesn't actually have a pit, but they do know how to smoke meat and use a grill.

They've also put together a good menu. Choices were many but, alas, I was just dining with one other person. When it came time to order, not to slight my dining companion, I really wished I was two tables over. Some guy named Doug was having a birthday and the folks at his table were ordering (and drinking) like there was no tomorrow. If my friend and I couldn't sample the food, at least we could get a visual preview.

Eventually I ordered a half slab of the pork back ribs, two side dishes (which come with all plates), one of potato salad the other of baked beans, and a salad. My friend ordered the chicken kabobs plate and two side dishes, the spicy coleslaw and the red beans and rice. Though our ordering paled in comparison to the birthday bash a few tables over, we definitely had a decent food extravaganza for just two people.

Cornbread also comes with most orders. On this night, the cornbread was actually a cornbread ball. On the cornbread issue, I must take a moment to comment. I don't know barbecue or Southern food protocol all that well. Maybe that's the traditional way to serve cornbread. In any event, it tasted good and I give Front Range points for creativity. But I felt gypped by the reshape; one little ball of cornbread is kind of chintzy.

The ribs, though, were excellent and meaty, the meat so tender it fell off the bone. The ribs were definitely smoked and the accompanying barbecue sauce held its own; very rich and sweet. The beans had it going on, too. As a huge fan of baked beans, these scored highly; sweet and tangy, with little manageable chunks of bacon and onions. I'm getting a double order next time.

The potato salad could have used a lot less mustard. Though it tasted homemade, it was just too yellow.

The chicken kabobs were well prepared, though my friend ordered them with the Teriyaki sauce as opposed to the barbecue or Cajun sauces also offered -- kinda sacrilegious in a barbecue place, but to each her own. The chunks of chicken, like the ribs, were very tender. Accompanied by a slew of grilled veggies, overall it was a nice plate of food. The spicy coleslaw was way better than the potato salad, and the red beans and rice, which I ended up eating most of, were good and filling, though they could have used a lot more spice.

By the time all of our food actually arrived, we were well into happy hour and the birthday table was well into dessert ... and beer, a strange combination. I was glad they ordered dessert, though, so I could see what it looked like. There was no way more food was going to fit into my stomach and all of the homemade desserts sounded luscious on the menu. Next time I go I'm saving room for this lovely sounding treat: a baked apple with pecans and cinnamon ice cream.

Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and all day Sunday at Front Range's tiny but perfectly functional bar, offering 2 for 1 Bristol brews and half-price wells. Considering the value and the superlative ribs, I'm willing to overlook the potato salad, bland beans and rice, and the teeny cornbread. And there is plenty else to choose from on the menu, as was previewed at Doug's birthday table. Happy belated birthday, Doug, and thanks for eating so much food.


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