Name: Boney’s Smokehouse
Address: 1543 Champa St., Denver, CO 80202
Order: Monk: 2 Meat Platter (pulled pork, brisket) with collards and hush puppies; Speedy: 3 Meat Platter (pulled pork, hot links, brisket) with fried okra and hush puppies, 2 rib bones, 10 smoked wings (link to menu)
Price: $44 (yea, it was a lot of food)
Monk: Once in Denver on our aforementioned annual guys trip (Rudy, you were missed), Speedy and I insisted that the group try one barbecue restaurant despite Denver’s reputation for not having good barbecue.(*) After a quick Yelp search, we decided on Boney’s Smokehouse in the Central Business District in downtown Denver.
(*) Quick side story: the night before we ate at Billy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs – which was awesome – and asked a manager there where to find good barbecue and he noted with a straight face “Go to Texas.” That recommendation doesn’t necessarily apply to us, but point taken.
Speedy: Boney’s is located in a basement of a larger building smack in the middle of downtown Denver. However, it’s a big space, so it didn’t feel too claustrophobic, save for the low ceilings. It was a little dark, but all in all, a pleasant atmosphere. We waited in a short line to order at a cashier (where one can preview other plates being prepared) and placed our orders. We had to go to the bar separately to order beers, but there was a decent selection of local beers on draft, so this was no problem. We were given a number and picked our table where we waited for the food.
Monk: Having the small stomach that I do and knowing that we would be drinking beer the rest of the day, I went with the 2 meat platter. Curiously, both mine and Speedy’s platters came pre-sauced where everyone else’s in our party did not. The pork was moist and smoky and tender and was surprisingly good. Unfortunately, the brisket was quite dry and really just not good, more resembling roast beef.
Speedy: The ribs were served with a dry rub and no sauce. While I often like this style, I thought they really lacked flavor and needed to be sauced. And while I don’t like my ribs to literally fall off the bone, these could have been a little more tender. I wasn’t upset I got them at $2.50 a bone (and with Monk paying!), but I’m glad I didn’t get a whole order. The wings were sub-par and were the worst part of the meal (along with the brisket). They were definitely smoked, but the skin outside was too crispy – to the point that it was tough. My guess is that it was smoked at a higher heat than I’d like. Not really worth ordering. I did, however, really enjoy the sausage. While everyone who tried it in our group also enjoyed, some were saying, “well it’s tough to mess up sausage.” I couldn’t disagree more. To me, sausage can be made in so many different ways that it can be very good or very bad. This sausage had a good flavor and was smoked well, though it didn’t have the trademark juiciness that I look for in a great sausage – possibly due to being pre-cut. It probably was my favorite part of the meal.
Monk: The hush puppies and cornbread, presumably of the same cornmeal mixture, were both surprisingly good, as were the collards which did not taste as if they were taken out of a can.
Speedy: When I ordered the fried okra, the cashier told me I made a “great choice.” My guess is that people around those parts don’t eat a lot of fried okra. However, I am a seasoned expert in all things okra. As such, while I definitely enjoyed it, the okra didn’t stand out from any I’d had before. It was good, and I’d recommend that others order it, it did not exceed expectations.
Monk: After finishing our meal and talking through our thoughts on the barbecue with our buddies, we took an informal poll and none of us were that upset that we went to this barbecue establishment. The food was fine and not particularly offensive, but it just wasn’t great – not that our expectations were too high to begin with. As it turns out, Boney’s Smokehouse exactly lived up to the reputation of Denver barbecue.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 Hogs
Pork – 3.5 Hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 2 hogs
Sides – 2.5 Hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs