Barbecue in Parachute, Colorado

Vance Johnson’s Outlaw Ribbs

Parachute, Colorado

If you cheered for the Denver Broncos twenty years ago you remember the most flamboyant of the Three Amigos – Vance Johnson.  Wide receiver Johnson played from 1985-1995. A few years ago a friend told us about a good barbecue restaurant on Colorado’s Western Slope in the small town of Parachute. Since the friend was a Kansas City native we figured he had a credible recommendation. Since then we’ve stopped several times for lunch at VJ’s Outlaw Ribbs.


I don’t think we would have ever paid attention to the unassuming building right along Interstate 70 but now we know to turn off at Exit 75. VJ’s opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today’s breakfast special was a jumbo smoked sausage, 2 eggs, home fries and toast. Besides the typical breakfast fare selections include Toby’s Burrito, a Denver Omelet, grits and bone-in ham slice.


The lunch special was pure southern – catfish platter with blackened peas, rice, collard greens and cornbread. I note most of the locals were indulging in the special. I bypass the catfish for a shredded smoked pork sandwich with their basic barbecue sauce and a side of beans. Bob opted for the pulled pork on bun – Southern style (hot and spicy) topped with coleslaw. There is also a tangy barbecue sauce.


If you’re with a group order “The Trough” which VJ’s promises to feed four or more. There’s baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, smoked sausage, pork, brisket, whole chicken, 6 sides and garlic toast. Pull up a chair and dig in.


Fresh cut prime rib is on this weekend’s special board plus live 70s music on the patio. Every time we’ve stopped at VJ’s locals greatly outnumber the tourists. There seems to be a loyal following of gas and oil field workers, ranchers with their brand on their license plate and those just shooting’ the breeze. I’m happy we didn’t just breeze on by.

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