Darren "Big Country" Byrd came to Colorado from Texas to attend culinary school at Colorado Mountan College and opened a barbecue joint in Keystone in 2007. But he grew tired of nine months of winter a year and so moved his operation to Denver, where he's been running a fleet of barbecue food trucks and trailers for the past two and half years. After finding a vacant spot in Sunnyside last fall (in the former home of Bocadillo on Tejon Street), Byrd opened Big Country's Bar-B-Que on Wednesday, with a range of brisket, pulled pork and ribs along with house-made sides and sauces.
According to Byrd, all of the meats at Big Country's are Colorado-raised and free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics, with the current exception of his pork ribs, which he's had a hard time sourcing in-state because the hogs aren't grown big enough for good ribs. His long-term goal is to be 100-percent GMO-free, including all side dishes. The care he takes in preparing the menu is evident in Big Country's coleslaw, which is dressed to order to prevent the cabbage from getting limp.
Meats are smoked over a combination of hickory, mesquite and pecan — traditional woods used in north Texas smoking (Byrd is a Fort Worth native). Big Country's offers sliced or chopped brisket with a distinct pink smoke ring as well as the coveted burnt ends, and there's also house-made sausage that combines beef and pork. Sides include beans, smokey macaroni and cheese and slow-cooked collard greens.
Big Country's will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednseday and Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Byrd also offers barbecue catering for special events.