Coy and Rachael Webb are paying homage to Colorado's barbecue roots at their new smokehouse, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que, which just opened on Wednesday. Along with pork shoulder, beef brisket, house-made sausage and a few other specialties, the menu of smoked meats includes Colorado lamb shank and bison short ribs. Colorado native Rachael and Texan Coy want to reintroduce Denverites to regional traditions that died out with the population boom that brought newcomers from the South's many barbecue regions.
Coy grew up in Plainview, Texas, where his dad cooked barbecue for fun, using primarily the pecan wood that grew on the farm. After graduating from culinary school in Arizona, he returned to Texas and worked on recipes with his dad, winning a few barbecue competitions in the process. A professional chef for the past two decades, he's worked at a variety of independent and corporate restaurants, but he's always managed to work smoked meats into his menus. Even as the executive chef for three restaurants owned by Vail Resorts at Breckenridge Ski Resort, he convinced management to bring in a $12,000 smoker.
The couple recently married and decided to give it a go on their own in this quaint neighborhood shopping center just west of the University of Denver; the space was previously occupied by Crown Burger Plus, but you won't see much evidence of the previous tenant. The Webbs refurbished the dining space with pine tables they built themselves ("Our neighbors probably didn't care for all the sanding in the back yard," says Rachael), reclaimed metal siding from a barn in Kansas and artistic touches like a wooden Colorado flag from a local craftsman and sugar-skull buffalo prints created by a tattoo artist in Montana.
The kitchen is equipped with two cabinet smokers that burn a blend of pecan wood and red oak; Coy says the smoke is just a little sweet and doesn't overwhelm the meat. Although he grew up around Texas-style barbecue, his goal is to create a style that will please a wider audience than just transplants from the Lone Star State. Before opening Roaming Buffalo, the couple took a road trip through the South, eating at 19 different legendary smokehouses in several states before returning to finish their menu. Not that the list is a hodgepodge of regional styles; the meats are simply prepared with a light dry rub and two sauces are offered on the side -- a tangy, zippy house blend and a slightly more fiery version called Raging Buffalo.
In addition to the Colorado lamb and bison short ribs, Coy is proud of his Cornish game hen. "We took some home yesterday for dinner and it was still moist the next day," he notes.
There are also pork spare ribs and that house-made sausage: a blend of beef and pork shot through with jalapeño and cheddar. Meats can be purchased by the pound, by the plate as one-, two- or three-meat combos, or in a few different sandwiches. The choice of sides covers cilantro lime coleslaw, cowboy beans, roasted corn and cheese the consistency of macaroni and cheese, and chipotle potato salad.
Barbecue is simple," explains Coy. "It's all about the meat."
The selections are smoked in small batches every day and items are taken off the menu when they sell out. "Your not getting anything that's been sitting around in hot boxes for hours," says Coy.
Roaming Buffalo is open every day but Monday from 11 a.m. to whenever the meats sell out.
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Keep reading for more photos from Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que.