By Samantha Alviani | Denver Westword
Denver is experiencing a food renaissance — and for the past few years, food trucks have been at the vanguard of this movement, taking some of this city’s most inventive dishes out for a spin and putting the adventure back into eating.
If you plan on finding your next meal on wheels, check out one of these ten trucks, each one offering a movable feast.
Hey PB + J
This truck is onto something. Long lauded as the go-to meal for toddlers and college students alike, peanut butter and jelly always hits the spot. What sets this truck (and its sandwiches) apart is its very adult (yet playful) approach, which includes experimenting with such mobile-made condiments as rosemary honey and homemade fig jam. The truck has unexpected choices for both the sweet and savory palate, including Blueberry Pie PB & J, an unsettlingly delicious combination of almond butter, homemade blueberry jam, baked pie crust (pie crust!), and clover honey, and the Thai PB & J, a savory number made with spicy peanut butter, orange marmalade, coconut, fresh basil and crushed peanuts.
The Pink Tank won Best Food Truck honors in the Best of Denver 2013, and with good reason. This truck is not for the shy or faint of heart: In fact, if you’re patronizing this place, you’d better be ready to air all of your dirty food fantasies and hidden food fetishes in front of a long line of others waiting for their meals. Exhibit A: the “F Bomb,” an all-beef hot dog with scrambled eggs, crispy thick-cut bacon, broiled cheddar cheese and caramel-maple syrup, served on homemade French toast — and that’s just breakfast. If you come back for lunch, dinner or a late-night snack, you can get down with the “When in Rome,” a cheesesteak-style chopped burger with grilled ham, thick-cut bacon, grilled onions and peppers, nacho-style cheddar cheese and wing sauce, served on a fluffy hoagie roll. Now, that’s just naughty.
Manna from Heaven took home the Best Gourmet Food Truck award in 2012, and it continues to reward its loyal (and growing) cadre of followers with heavenly, Vietnamese-inspired cuisine on the healthier end of the food-truck spectrum. Although Manna doesn’t claim to be traditional or even authentic Vietnamese, the flavors and ingredients hit the sweet spot if you’re looking for Southeast Asian cuisine. Try the cult-favorite banh mi, a freshly baked roll with seasoned pork, steak or veggies, loaded with crunchy cucumbers and pickled daikon carrots and a fresh-cut herb mix; or the pho, with its rich, aromatic broth.
The loncherias were the first food trucks in town, and the pink Comida truck follows in their tracks, serving a menu of tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and gorditas all prepared on-site. Tacos come traditional or griddled. The pork carnitas version is served over sweet potato mash with a tangy-hot pineapple habanero salsa, and the “Bacon Jalapeno” griddled taco is topped with a blend of cheeses, salsa verde and crema.
We like Mike. Mikes 2 Kitchen serves up simple, flavorful soul food — whether it’s a loaded Po’ Boy or a plate of tacos — with downhome friendliness. Try the shoestring fries smothered in homemade gumbo, the perfectly seasoned shrimp Po Boy or a plate of carnitas lunch tacos. You can also start your morning with Mike’s; it serves breakfast tacos as well as sandwiches daily.
Sweet Dixie’s Southern Cuisine
You’ve probably seen Sweet Dixie’s camped outside REI or Great Divide — but if you haven’t tried it, know that this Southern grub will hit your sweet spot. The owner, a native of Lexington, North Carolina, brings the barbecue and low-country soul food of her hometown to Denver in the form of luscious pulled pork; flaky, buttery biscuits, and classic, home-style sweet potato fries and macaroni and cheese. And for vegetarians, it often has country-fried tofu on the menu.
Waffleganger quickly became a beloved Denver tradition for its delicious array of sweet and savory waffle sandwiches, which fills the chicken-and-waffle need in so many of us. This truck has one of the town’s most all-encompassing menus, with a rotating, seasonal menu for vegetarians, meat lovers and vegans alike. The “Dirty Bird,” a savory waffle with fried chicken and chili maple syrup, is undeniably perfect; and the “Greektown,” a savory waffle with locally made seitan, Sicilian lemony-zucchini tzatziki, house-cured Kalamata tofeta, and ripe tomatoes and greens, is just as satisfying for carnivores. On the sweet side, there’s the “Nana,” a sweet waffle with banana, housemade granola, and coconut cream. And if vegan eaters feel they haven’t gotten enough love on the food-truck front, on Saturday mornings, the Waffleganger truck goes completely vegan at Nooch market.
Über Sausage opened up shop with the goal of feeding Denver interesting, artisan sausage. Two brick-and-mortars and a truck later, Uber is a a roll, serving uniquely crafted, inventive sausage sandwiches. Instead of the more traditional sausage with grilled peppers and onions, you’ll find choices like the “Vietnam,” a Thai chili lemongrass pork sausage smothered in Asian slaw, a host of fresh herbs like mint and Thai basil, black sesame seeds and a Sriracha aioli. The “Hatch,” a pork green chile sausage, is made with cilantro, mixed cabbage, Jatch green chiles and crema fresca. Conveniently, and perhaps strategically, the Über truck can usually be found outside your favorite beer haunt — and even more conveniently, its sausage will pair well with your beer.
Fat Sully’s Slice Truck is a mecca for those who pine for pizza, cooking up hot, New York-style, face-sized slices for the masses whether it’s lunchtime or midnight. This is the kind of pizza that doesn’t adapt well if moved from its plate; instead, diners usually have to take a bite, nudge the slice off the plate a little more, wipe their happy faces, and repeat. Order your choice of toppings, including sautéed onions and feta, on a base of cheese pizza, and then enjoy the thin, crispy, chewy-on-the inside crust — simple goodness as its bes
Pearl, the Steuben’s outpost on wheels, paved the way for the Denver food-truck revolution by offering a mobile version of some of the dishes that gained fans at the Uptown restaurant, the best versions of classic American comfort food you could ask for. From juicy green chile cheeseburgers and a loaded BLT to such tasty sides as deviled eggs and “Steubie snacks,” these are all can’t-fail. Possibly the best dish of all? the Philly Cheesesteak, a meaty, delicious mess of chopped steak, sautéed onions and cheese in a freshly-made hoagie roll.