Owlbear Barbecue in Denver brings Texas-style brisket to RiNo

Pitmaster Karl Fallenius was watching the weather forecast in disbelief earlier this week, seeing highs only in the 40s and snow showers on Thursday, the day when he would finally fire up the smokers at his new RiNo barbecue spot.

It had been a three-year journey for Fallenius, from his Owlbear Barbecue food truck, to a pop-up, and now to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

“I’ll believe it when I see it” was what he kept hearing from fans of his barbecue, when he was faced with delay after delay.

Fallenius’ business started in 2015 at Finn’s Manor on Larimer Street, where his food truck gathered a devout following for its central Texas-style brisket, which he described this way: “If it’s not good enough without sauce, then it’s just not good enough.”

In 2017, Fallenius found a restaurant space on Larimer and started working toward a permanent home. But delays came in the form of construction and permitting setbacks, stolen smoker parts and the birth of his daughter.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said from inside the 18-seat, counter-service shop. Starting Thursday, in snow or sweltering heat, Fallenius and his team will be working the two offset smokers parked out front at 2826 Larimer St.