To Jessie Smiley opening her own barbeque restaurant had always been a dream. With four children at home and a full-time job she had her hands full. She always thought that when the time came she would know it was meant to be. Well, that time came in February of this year when the owner of the Phoenix Bar in Golden decided to turn the space over to her to do just that. “I had this dream to have a local spot where people can go and everybody knows your name and can call their home,” stated Jessie.
The dive-bar-turned-barbeque restaurant – now aptly titled Smiley’s BBQ – underwent a cosmetic overhaul to modernize and brighten up the space including the addition of a new deck with a view of the mountains – the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset. Jessie’s husband – Sean Smiley, owner of State 38 Distilling – has a background in construction and renovated the majority of the space with the help of the GM and his head distiller at State 38, giving the restaurant a personal touch. He also drove down to Texas to pick up the 500-gallon smoker that sits out back – before Jessie even had the space. It was a perfect chain of events that lead Jessie to opening the restaurant of her dreams – all while raising newborn twins, a three-year-old and a teenager.
Smiley’s offers Golden a different kind of cuisine that you’d likely find in an Austin restaurant – barbeque with a Latin twist. “I can’t pin it down to a certain region, it’s kind of its own flair,” Jessie explained. You can order your choice of pulled chicken, pork or brisket atop a flour tortilla, Hawaiian roll, gluten-free bun or greens. The mac ‘n cheese with burnt ends, barbeque nachos with pulled chicken and flan served with churros are unique items that shouldn’t be missed. Weekly specials include Margarita Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wine & Whiskey Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Foodie Friday, Cider Saturday and Sunday Bunday all with corresponding deals. There really is something for everyone at Smiley’s – especially when it comes to the cocktails. Of course, the bar houses spirits from State 38 but also offers a selection of spirits from other local distilleries including Bear Creek and Lee Spirits. “I wanted to make sure we could represent local distilleries and have a variety of options at the bar,” said Jessie.
As a newcomer to the restaurant scene, Jessie is putting in the work to create a space where everyone feels welcome and can enjoy themselves. From the unique decor to the array of games available to play, the space really feels like somewhere you can relax and have fun with anyone. Keep an eye out for more events at Smiley’s as it makes a name for itself as the new go-to hangout in Golden.
Smiley’s is located at 15800 W Colfax Ave, Golden. Open Monday – Sunday 11 a.m.- close.
All photography by Brandon Johnson.