WESTMINSTER, Colo., June 12, 2017 ⏤ When people think of great barbecue locales, they typically think of Memphis, Charleston, Kansas City and Austin. But Westminster, Colorado?
Colorado isn’t on most people’s lists of great barbecue destinations. But Jason Ganahl of Gque Championship BBQ wants to change that perception. He’s doing it with his own tried and tested, mouth-watering version of what it takes to put this town on the barbecue map.
Tucked into a corner of the Sheridan Crossing Shopping Mall in Westminster, Colorado, just north of Denver, Gque (a play on the owner’s last name) opened its doors in November, 2015.
Ganahl became a smoked meat fan at an early age. He was enthralled as a child by watching his dad work his magic on their backyard grill. In his 20s, he was eating barbecue three times per week, and in 2009, he became a Kansas City Barbecue Society competition judge. A couple of years later, he entered regional competitions and started to win, including the prestigious Rocky Mountain BBQ Association’s Team of the Year Award in 2014.
When Ganahl turned his passion into a brick and mortar operation in Westminster, the public and media were quick to embrace him as a local barbecue sensation. His restaurant’s accolades include being named among the Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in America (one of 29 for June 2017) by The National Barbecue News, listed as one of Denver’s Hottest New Restaurants (Zagat, 2015), and featured in One of Denver’s Essential BBQ Restaurants (Eater, 2016). His brisket and ribs also made Westword’s 100 Favorite Dishes in 2016.
One of Ganahl’s secrets is that he makes everything fresh from scratch each day, using the best ingredients he can find. This includes USDA Prime brisket (top 3 percent of meat), which he slowly smokes over pesticide-free hickory wood from East Kansas. The lemonade is made using just lemons, water, and sugar.
The ambiance is simple, with an order counter and some booths, tables, and chairs. But customers come here for Ganahl’s meats, which can be ordered by the pound or in a sandwich with sides that come with a twist.
Meats include pulled pork, USDA Prime brisket, all white turkey breast, dry rubbed chicken wings, pork spare ribs, and jalapeño cheddar sausage. These can be enjoyed with the house-made sauces such as The Topper savory barbecue sauce or The Hottish spicy variety.
The brisket is plastic fork tender and will melt in your mouth. The ribs come with a glaze and are a taste flavor sensation with either sauce.
The sides include Ganahl’s own variation of coleslaw made with Granny Smith apples, which he calls apple slaw. His pit smoked beans are out of this world and take four hours to prepare. They are tangy, sweet, and smoky, and his hand-cut salt brined fries have a nice crispiness to them that makes them pop in your mouth.
Ganahl is a non-stop tour de force. When he’s not managing his restaurant, he’s doing spots on local TV or teaching classes to anyone who shares his passion. But above all, he stays true to his roots for what got it all started. Many days, he can be found out back making YouTube videos for his channel and grilling on the backyard grill, just like the one his dad used.
FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit, however, all opinions herein are the authors.