Marble has another talent besides exporting rock: Serving first-rate barbecue.
It takes a slow groove to get there – up Highway 133 and Road 3, past the antique fire carriage proudly marking the station, then down West 1st – but Marble’s barbeque gem at the end of the trek is worth the trip.
I first heard about Slow Groovin’ from our electrician, Rick, and then read The Aspen Time’s Aspen Princess piece from July, “Princess: A non-Aspen Fourth of July,” where she recommended a trip to the restaurant. With my interest and appetite piqued, I decided to recruit my dad for a road trip.
We arrived before the lunch crush, the cumbersome Toyota Sequoia pulling into the gravel parking lot. We stretched our legs as we got out; the drive was long – about an hour and a half from Aspen. The aroma of meat smoking in fruit wood could be smelled around the block. As we walked up the porch, the wait staff greeted us from inside, offering us “any table” – a welcoming, personable, high quality service would be a constant throughout our experience.
Because we had brought our dog along, we chose to sit outside. Our waiter, Justin, enthusiastically explained Slow Groovin’s mission to bring out Colorado in their barbecue. All of the pork and brisket is from Colorado; many of the herbs and preserves they use are local; and for those thirsty for cool mountain refreshment, the beverages include 14 different types of beers all from the Centennial State.
As I looked over the menu, I began to appreciate Slow Groovin’ BBQ as a refreshingly unique contradiction to the typical, hokey barbecue joint.
Far off the beaten path (both the employee housing and my cell reception will attest to that), the quaint town of Marble is like a trip back in time before urban developments, bustling traffic, high tech gizmos, and kale juice diets. Some might say Marble is stuck in the Stone Age; I think it enhances Slow Groovin’s quirky, mellow character. Signs read, “Get Outta Here Bear, Staff Only,” and “No Good Story Ever Started with a Salad.” Sirius XM Radio plays everything from Katy Perry to Queen. The water is served in old whiskey bottles, the sweet tea in Ball jars. And a waitress detailed the meaning of her tattoos to interested customers. Far from the cliché of most barbecue restaurants, Slow Groovin’ has a beat of its own.
Slow Groovin’s food is also in a category all its own. We ordered an appetizer of pulled pork and green chilies mac and cheese (the “lighter” option of the mac and cheeses, Justin explained); a platter of beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, smoked sausage, and a side of skillet corn; and for dessert, a slice of coconut cream pie.
Mac and cheese is usually a pretty good barometer of a restaurant’s food. It’s like singing: everyone can do it, but few can do it well. And if you can do it well, you’ve probably spent some time around music.
In this case, the mac and cheese is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). It is thick, hearty, and served in a small metal kettle as if to warn you what your stomach will feel like afterwards.
The tender brisket separates easily, with slices ranging from 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick, and pairs well with both the vinegar based “Goldrush” barbecue sauce and the Kansas City-style “Sweet and Spicy.”
The pulled pork is moist and smoky. Covered with a spice blend called, “Ass Rub,” it is packed with flavor. We found it best paired with the Goldrush sauce.
The ribs were my father’s favorite of the four. Smoked for five hours with hickory pellets and then another two with fruit wood, they have a nice bark to them and plenty of succulent meat to bite. Observation: With meat this tender you’d better check the tray below for pieces that missed your mouth. Pairing: The Goldrush sauce cut pleasantly into the fat of the ribs.
The sausage is far and away the MVP. I have never tasted anything like it. Filled with red pepper and black pepper, these babies have bite. The combination of the sausage with the Slow Groovin’s five pepper hot sauce created a synergy that is making me plan my trip back already. (Side note: You could’ve started a Red Cross relief fund for my mouth afterwards, but it was definitely worth it.)
Lightly charred with red pepper, the skillet corn has a wholesome texture and flavor instantaneously converting a corn doubter like me. However, if you are getting a platter of meat, coleslaw might be the best side.
Our final course was the coconut cream pie that is, in the words of Guy Fieri, “Flavortown”, topped with real whipped cream instead of the expected meringue, and a nice light crust, it was a creamy, soothing finish to our meal.
Now I know that the Aspen Princess may have gone paddle boarding after her meal, but all we were fit for was paddle-submarining. We were Slow Movin’. But here’s the thing: we were content. Often times after eating a lot of barbecue, I feel sticky, greasy, and heavy. (Side note: I think that was my hometown Houston’s forecast yesterday). But at Slow Groovin’, the food was not greasy; it was not drenched in sauce; and it was not served with thousands of napkins. The food was honest and natural.
Driving out of Marble, past the fire station and slabs of marble, and behind a restored classic car, I realized that Slow Groovin’ BBQ has also achieved what the best in barbecue strives for beyond the food. Slow Groovin’ has a pride, a personality, and a connection to the local environment that truly reflects barbecue’s humble beginnings.
Slow Groovin’ BBQ – 101 W 1st St – Marble, CO 81623
Atmosphere Casual. Indoor and outdoor seating, with bar seating and TV’s available inside.
Recommended Dishes Mac and cheese; smoked sausage; pulled pork sandwich. Appetizers, $2 to $14; salads, $4 to $12; main courses, $10 to $28; desserts, $2.50 to $6.
Drinks and Wine Full bar
Price $$ (moderate)
Take out Yes
Open Daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Wheelchair Access Side of front porch near the smoker is at ground level.
Date Assessed 6/17/16