Gone are the days where tacos are the only things you can find from a mobile kitchen. With everything from gumbo to Venezuelan arepas, today’s Denver food trucks are serving a culinary rainbow of unique offerings. So in order to get a better look at this developing scene, we visited Civic Center Park to participate in Civic Center Eats, the largest gathering of food trucks in Metro Denver, going on every Tuesday and Thursday now through October 8. But with a vast amount of options and limited belly space, we wanted to approach our endeavor in the most strategic way possible— by asking the pros themselves. Read on to see where food truck owners are eating and what they think you can’t miss. We can tell you from experience, it’s all delicious.
Type of Cuisine: Coffee
Recommended Items: Specialty latte
This mobile coffee shop is unlike many other trucks as it is operated out of a classic 1970 Volkswagen bus. The idea initially began after owner and operator, Erika Hildner, a woman who has a self-proclaimed passion for these iconic cars, found this unique vehicle online: “I was cruising around Craigslist searching for parts for my other bus and saw this for sale,” she said. At the time, it seemed like fate since Hildner had decided to quit her day job as a caterer in search of something new. “[The bus] was so well designed, and I thought to myself, ‘What do I have to lose?,’” she explained. The result is the Denver Bean Machine, a fully operational coffee shop that offers a variety of drinks, including coffees and espresso, smoothies, hot chocolate and teas. Hildner recommends you try her specialty lattes for a good morning pick-me-up!
Type of Cuisine: American
Recommended Items: Jalapeños popper grilled cheese, sloppy Joe, and veggie burger.
Brother and sister Ben Rayl and Bonnie Herman, have teamed up to bring Denver their own original “comfortable food.” Since March of 2014, they have vowed to provide their customers with unpretentious food that is not only delicious but unique. This duo stands strongly by their belief to serve only humanely raised meats, which they get from Callicrate Farms in Colorado Springs, and Tender Belly here in Denver. Although they are newer to the food truck game, Comfortable Food is already highly recommended by its competitors.
Chuey Fu’s Latin-Asian Grub
Type of Cuisine: Latin and Asian Food
Recommended Items:: Fish tacos or the simply Korean beef taco
Although already involved in the restaurant business, when owner Joseph Knoblich realized he no longer wanted to work just to pay the bills, he hoped for a little luck (FU means luck) and went to work making his food truck dream a reality. With a combination of both Latin food and Asian food, serving up items like its well-recommended fish tacos or its spicy Korean beef, this food truck has no limits to the flavor or spices they decide to include. Don’t miss your chance to be called one of your favorite Star Wars characters, such as Storm Trooper or Obi Wan, for each name represents an individual’s order.
Jessie’s Smokin’ NOLA
Type of Cuisine: New Orleans
Recommended Items: Jambalaya or “The Big Easy” (fried catfish)
In 2014, Jessie’s Smokin’ NOLA was named Best Food Truck in Denver by Denver A-List voters. Its authentic New Orleans Cuisine, including items such as po-boy sandwiches, gumbo, and beans’n’rice, could easily be found on Bourbon Street, but instead this truck insisted on sharing the love and bringing it to the city of Denver. Not only can this food truck be found out and about all over Denver, but it also caters! Come Mardi Gras, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than throwing a party with this authentic New Orleans cuisine.
Type of Cuisine: Ice cream
Recommended Items: Cookies and cream ice cream
Instead of the pre-packaged and high in fructose corn syrup ice creams and popsicle you find in ice cream trucks of yesteryear, the MooMobile’s ice cream makes its ice cream fresh everyday with locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, this ice cream truck prides itself on being one of the cleanest and most sustainable ice cream shops, they use only compostable and recyclable products. With the option of turning your ice cream into a root beer float or an ice cream sammie, as well as a variety flavors and toppings to chose from, this ice cream truck is the perfect treat on a hot summer day.
Type of Cuisine: Venezuelan
Recommended Items: Queso, La original, and plantains
Named one of the “Best Food Trucks in he Nation” by multiple publications, this gluten-free, all-natural, supporter of local farms, Venezuelan food truck is another must try! While this line can be intimidating, it moves fast, and the food is well worth the wait. Venezuelan born and raised, owner Igor Panasewicz and his wife Becky had the dream of sharing his culture and their food with the people of Denver. Incorporating the Colorado lifestyle into his truck, Quiero Arepas is a zero waste truck—no lids, straws, plates, side cups, etc.—that runs on natural gas, releasing little emissions. You can also check out Quiero Arepas at Avanti Food and Beverage, one of Denver’s hottest new eateries in LoHi.
Type of Cuisine: Seafood
Recommended Items: Traditional Maine lobster roll
It is not often you come across sustainable seafood on the streets here in Denver, but Lobster Bliss manages to do just that. According to its website Lobster Bliss even has “a series of state-of-the-art lobster tanks capable of holding 2,500 pounds of live lobster” that were custom-made by a marine biologist exclusively for this company. With such reasonable prices, it is a wonder how this food truck provides their customers with some of the freshest and most delicious traditional New England style lobster and seafood dishes. Also come fall of this year, Lobster Bliss is projected to open its own brick-and-motar restaurant!
The Colorado Pig Rig
Type of Cuisine: Midwestern
Recommended Items: Cheese curds or the Miss Piggy sandwich
Three brothers, Trevor, Josh and Tyler Kriz, have their mom to thank for their midwestern classics. Coming from a family of both farmers and entrepreneurs, they had the dream of one day owning their own small business. Born and raised in Arizona, they took some of their mom’s Midwest classics, including cheese curds and a pork tenderloin sandwich, and added their own Mexican twist with other offerings like Navajo Indian fry bread tacos. After trying the beer battered cheese curds ourselves, we can honestly say that they lived up to their reputation.
A Taste of the Philippines
Type of Cuisine: Filipino
Recommended Items: Chicken adobo and lumpias (hand rolled egg rolls)
Don’t let the size of this food truck, or more accurately “food cart,” cause you to walk right by it. While it may be small, it is just as efficient and just as tasty as all of the other food trucks in town. Owner of the food cart, Kathy Poland, was determined to bring some of her Filipino culture to Denver through food. “The recipes are my mom’s. When I decided to open a food truck, I flew to Illinois where she lives and got all her recipes,” said Poland. Combining multiple flavors like sweet and sour or spicy and salty, Filipino food creates a dish that’s deliciously balanced. Besides serving, this food truck also caters, has private cooking classes and meal planning, and even gives lumpia wrapping demos.
Type of Cuisine: “Build a Bowl” hearty bowls
Recommended Items: Savory pulled pork over Thai jasmine fried rice, with sauces chimichurri and Sriracha sour cream.
This food truck is one of the few mobile kitchens with a build-it-yourself menu. Customers have the ability to choose from a wide range of options including: nine different types of grains with several gluten free and vegan varieties; 16 proteins such as duck confit to curried lentils, and inventive sauces like fresh Basil tzatziki or an “avocado velvet.” The owners of this truck, Stephen and Mandy Smith, wanted their customers to “choose their own adventure,” while enjoying gourmet cuisine and eating healthy. Their concept first began as a booth at Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market but after they had such great success, they quickly expanded to a food truck.
Type of Cuisine: 100 percent fruit frozen treats
Recommended Items: Soft serve frozen fruit
On a hot summer day it is hard to pass up on a cool, sweet treat for a piece of fruit. But this food truck allows you to do just that because Ba-Nom-A-Nom uses only fruits to create soft served ice cream. With puréed frozen banana as the base that gives it the ice cream-like texture, other fruits are added to create fun new flavors like blackberry, pineapple, or peach mango. Using only 100 percent fruit allows people with almost any type of diet restriction to enjoy this ice cream-like treat. It even has a vegan chocolate sauce!
Type of Cuisine: Burgers
Recommended Items: Ricky Bobby
What does OG stand for? Original Grass-fed Burgers. This burger truck prides itself on selling burgers, “plain and simple,” but of course with a side of French fries. The Ricky Bobby Burger, made with American cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, pickles, and onions has become a fan favorite over the course of its five years in business, but this truck will always have a classic burger along with the meat-free option. Also, be sure to check out its sister truck, Dude Bro Taco, for some yummy street tacos and nachos.
Type of Cuisine: Peruvian
Recommended Items: Lomo saltado
It is not very often that you encounter Peruvian cuisine in Denver, but after trying the Lomo Saltado – a marinated steak, onions, tomatoes & fries, served on bed of rice – at Lomito Gourmet, that should change. Along with the lomo saltado, this gourmet Peruvian food truck offer items like pan con chicharron, a braised pork piled onto a toasted roll with fried sweet potatoes accompanied with a spicy pickled lime & onion salsa; and ceviche mixto, a white fish, shrimp, calamari and octopus marinated with limes, onions, spice Peruvian peppers and cilantro, that is served with Peruvian corn and sweet potatoes.
Manna From Heaven
Type of Cuisine: Vietnamese inspired
Recommended Items: Banh mi sandwich
This truck has such a big following there is even a name for its fans:”“Mannae-acks.” Using only fresh and mostly organic ingredients, its menu sticks to lean meats, and offer vegan and gluten-free options. It also manages to stay “wallet friendly,” by keeping each a la carte menu item under $10. With its award-winning banh mi sandwich–filled with bean sprouts, pickled daikon/carrot, cucumber and cilantro, in a toasted bolillo roll with Manna’s unique mayo-Sriracha spread, including a side of fruit – it is no wonder there was always a line for this truck.
Photography by Kiddest Metaferia and Candace Peterson. Words by Christina Walecka with contributions from Brittany Werges.