What: DJ’s Watering Hole
Where: 988 Dillon Road, Louisville
When: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more info: Visit djswateringholerestaurant.com
About the place: Stumbling upon DJ’s Watering Hole in Louisville came by happenstance. I was researching barbecue joints in Boulder County, and lo and behold, a menu featuring American barbecue with an Indian twist popped up. This, I thought, will either be off-the-wall amazing or horrible; lucky for us, it was fantastic.
The “DJ’s” part of DJ’s comes not from one person, but its three owners — the name is made up of the first initial of each of their names: Darryl Johnson, Jatin Patel and Shivang Patel, who is Jatin’s cousin. Johnson, who has won awards for his barbecue (which guests can see on the wall when they walk in), wanted to open a barbecue spot in the building that formally housed an Outback Steakhouse. Jatin, who opened Tiffins India Café in Boulder in 2011 and then sold it in 2018, wanted to offer a taste of his home country. So they combined their passions and created the only Indian-American-barbecue spot in the state, that we know of.
“Other places have Asian flavors on an American food, and what we are doing is something new,” says Jatin, who opened DJ’s in November 2022. “You look at Indian food, the potato, cauliflower and the peppers, these weren’t Indian ingredients to begin with. The [cuisine] has evolved.”
A lot of the menu comes from the creative mind of Jatin, who works closely with his cousin in the kitchen. He has cooked off and on for decades, and working on new foods and flavor combinations is what he wants to do in life, he says. He also grows ingredients for the restaurant right outside. The small gardens surround the bare-bones patio, which Jatin says he plans to make more hospitable as soon as he can. Until then, bunches of mint, lamb’s quarters, peppers, nasturtium, mustard, okra and other crops add greenery to the space, and appear on the menu.
As for the inside, it took the team months to get things in order thanks to the country-wide problems with labor shortages right now. A lot of the work, from the wood-paneled walls to the shiny lacquered floor, were done by the owners. There’s plenty of seating, both at individual tables, community picnic tables and at the bar. So far, it’s easy to stop in for lunch or dinner and not have to wait. But as more people discover this eatery, we predict it will start filling up more regularly.
What you’re eating: The menu proves huge, with sandwiches, barbecue meats, vegetarian options, salads, tandoori and sides. Just about everything is made in house, from the Indian sauces to the salad dressings to the squeeze bottles filled with Rat’s Woodshack BBQ Sauce on each table.
While some options are more run-of-the-mill, such as cheese fries, burgers and fried chicken, it’s the Indian-American combinations that really stand out. For example, the Paneer Pboy, a take on a New Orleans po’boy with seasoned paneer cheese, fresh peppers, mushrooms and house-made dressing on top. The Mac Bowl also has a fun twist, with batter-fried paneer tossed in hot and tangy chile sauce.
Barbecue plates come with house-smoked meats, and options include spare ribs, pulled pork, brisket and more. You should absolutely get any of these meats topped with the slightly spicy and flavorful masala sauce. The platter is served over rice and comes with a choice of sides, including collard greens, mac and cheese, coleslaw and baked beans. Don’t skip ordering a side of fresh, house-made naan — it’s perfect for dipping in the sauces and scooping up the tender chunks of meat.
The wings, too, can lean toward either standard American or Indian flavors. A plate of six, ten or twenty can be tossed with a classic barbecue rub or lemon pepper. For an Indian kick, opt for the rich vindaloo sauce or the sweet-and-spicy mango chutney. We also tried the lamb kabob, a succulent piece of meat with spiced peppers that’s served over rice with Indian dipping sauces. Pro tip: ask for a side of cooling, yogurt-based raita and mango chutney, too.
Soon, there will be even more options as well, because Jatin plans to offer specials on a regular basis, so start eating your way through the menu ASAP.