Although it had none of the woodsy, nose-tingling, enticing aroma associated with barbecue, the smoker was visible beyond the pass-through behind the counter where orders are placed at Broken Bones BBQ in Colorado Springs.
Once the food arrived, there was no doubt that the meats had spent their time in a low, slow-cooking environment. This Northgate-area restaurant offers a variety of smoked options and a number of house-made sides to complement them.
The brisket and pulled pork were branded as the most popular items, along with several sides. The mac and cheese is made fresh throughout the day, we were told. The silky cheese sauce coating the macaroni was, indeed, above average. So were the baked beans, with just the right amount of sweetness and an impressive number of brisket pieces. The potato salad combines red potatoes, still wearing their skins, with a creamy dressing. Coleslaw, garden salad and applesauce are also made in-house. All entrees include either a hamburger bun or Texas toast.
The focus at Broken Bones, though, is on the meats. Any number of combinations is available, whether a sandwich ($6.75 to $9.75, without sides), the “build a plate” option ($10.85) or a single item by the half or full pound ($7.50 to $17.95). We went with several two-meat plates: smoked turkey and pulled pork; beef sausage and ribs; burnt ends and pulled pork; and brisket and pulled chicken. The standouts were the burnt ends, sausage and brisket — in that order.
Diners have a choice of four sauces: regular, spicy, sweet and hickory. The regular is vinegar-based ala the Carolinas. It was too tangy and runny for my group. The spicy didn’t have much kick, and the sweet wasn’t. That left the smoky hickory to be just right. The pork was dry and not as flavorful on its own as the other meats, so it benefited from the sauce, as did the chicken.
Burnt ends might need a better name, though that could make competition for them that much stronger. These are cut from what’s referred to as the “point” of a brisket, where the beef and muscle meet. It’s usually the fattiest part, which makes the ends juicy. And because they’re on the end of the cut, they get a crispy char, so it’s a blend of textures with lots of smokiness.
Burnt ends typically are associated with Kansas City barbecue. (Broken Bones pays homage to all four barbecue regions rather than focusing on one, as evident through the sauces and meat cuts.)
Sliced brisket featured a thin, burnt crust. While it wasn’t fork-tender, it did impart that smoldering heat component associated with good barbecue. The ribs, by contrast, almost fell off the bone.
A few menu items aroused curiosity if not appetites. The Mac Attack sandwich, for example, ($9.45 with one side) features mac and cheese with a choice of meat on a bun. The Randaddy ($9.85) is another novelty. It, too, has that popular mac and cheese, but this time with jalapeño and cheddar tater tots with a choice of meat.
Broken Bones appears to do a lot of carry-out business. The west-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows provide impressive views of the mountains. The problem is that the late afternoon/early evening sun sends blinding light into the dining room. Unless strategically seated to avoid the glare, sunglasses are a necessity. The bonus, however, is that once the sun does begin its descent, the vista is spectacular.