The last days of summer are upon us, a transition between carefree nights under starry skies to the crisp crunch of fallen leaves underneath our feet. I’m not going to lie, saying goodbye to summer is always a challenge for me. Summer is my favorite season of all, a time I feel happiest, when adventures seem limitless while the sun hangs out longer in the sky like a celestial rest in a hammock, reluctant to leave just yet.
I’m going to miss summer terribly.
For me, summer in Fort Collins is also defined by food truck rallies – sitting in the lush green grass at City Park, people (and dog) watching, while the aromas of al fresco dining fill the warm evening air. There’s a smorgasbord of options to choose from, many filled with locally sourced produce that have a slight hint of the flavor of earth from the surrounding Northern Colorado dirt.
I’m also going to miss food truck rallies terribly.
Food truck rallies are a critics’ glorious window of opportunity, where I could visit a handful of trucks and carts at once to gather review content. The convenience factor made it so much easier for me instead of having to chase them down one by one, and hoping they published their roving schedules to do so. I was able to visit Bigs BBQ (aka: Bigs Meat Wagon) a few times to round out the quintessential Fort Collins summer dining experience – BBQ in the park.
Bigs BBQ started as a small local sauce company in 2011, where you could find owner Joe McQuain at various Farmer’s Markets, or his sauces, pickles, and pepper relish at some local restaurants. In May 2014 he expanded into the food truck scene after participating in BBQ competitions and figuring that a trailer was better than a full service restaurant.
Everything at Bigs is made from scratch and the meat smoked with fruit wood, so you can really get that quality BBQ flavor.
Their website leaves much to be desired as it’s only a conduit to sell sauce. There’s no food truck schedule or menu to reference, even on their Facebook page. You essentially stumble upon them and their gigantic smoker to partake in a BBQ adventure with whatever they have on board for the evening.
They’ll always have standards like brisket and pulled pork, which I found to be good although overly fatty, and you choose the style of Bigs Sauce that you’d like it slathered with.
But, the fun part is that they’ll smoke corn on the cob (whole in the husk), as well as whip up some creative dishes like gator hoagies (yes, real alligator), BBQ pork belly sandwiches, and my favorite – Mac n’ Meat.
If you were lucky enough to catch them at Loveland Loves BBQ, then you had a chance to eat smoked bacon ice cream (I was not lucky).
The alligator meatballs were a ground mix of alligator and other meats like chicken and beef, rolled into generously large meatballs slathered in sauce and placed on melted cheese. It was enough to feed two people and forks were necessary.
The BBQ pork belly sandwich was similar to pulled pork and brisket, but rich with silky fattiness that was perfectly cut with swigs of sweet tea, and fork fulls of homemade potato salad.
This is what makes them so intriguing to me, and I’d say it’s probably due in part because they’re living the food truck life where owners have that freedom of creative culinary exploration more so than other restaurants. But they’re doing more than just serving up standards, they’re making it interesting.
What won me over was their Mac n’ Meat – homemade macaroni and cheese with brisket bits on top. And it’s not just bits, but burnt ends too. Burnt ends that crispy crunch between the creamy cheese and completely melt in your mouth. It is DIVINE! My only criticism is that the cheese is just a tad too runny. But honestly, who really cares since it tastes so damn good.
I haven’t had anything that I didn’t finish at Bigs, and quite honestly, my youngest son was the one who ordered the Mac n’ Meat. I confiscated it after he ate a few bites and went off to do a million somersaults in the grass. I think I’ve made my point…
We have only just two weeks of summer left before the equinox, and a few more food truck rallies to wrap up in the process. If there’s one way to savor those last magnificent, magical moments when the yellow-green leaves on the trees still glitter in the breeze, when you can soak up the sunshine on your bare shins in the soft grass, and the smell of change hangs in the air and fills your lungs – it’s to do this at a park with some lip-smacking BBQ, and Bigs is the place to get it.
Kid-Friendly? You bet.
Parking Lot: Whatever parking lot they’re parked in
Healthy options: Not really
Budget-Friendly? $8-$10 per sandwich
Recent Health Inspection: Excellent