Welcome Back, Civic Center Eats. We’ve Missed You.

What an amazing day! Not a cloud in the sky, gentle breezes, and an incredible selection of great street food packed into Civic Center Park. To those of you who run the joint over at the Civic Center Conservancy, those of us who love to eat salute you.

Don’t forget: Thursdays too!

If you missed your chance today, don’t forget that CCE is now a twice weekly affair, folks! Tuesdays AND Thursdays, you’ll be treated to an army of awesome vendors. In addition, if you’re aching for street food in between, a smaller gathering of vendors will be on hand M-W-F. Hooray for Civic Center Conservancy!

There were plenty of trucks in attendance today who I know I love (Deluxe, Pinche, and more!) and even more that I’ve never tried. I figured I’d start out a new season of CCE looking for a new favorite meal, and while I won’t call that quest over, I have to say that Manna From Heaven’s vegetarian banh mi is already positioned as a formidable contender.

Manna From Heaven Attempts Bahn Mi. Nails It!

Manna from Heaven's Banh Mi. That's how it's done!

I consider myself a bit of a banh mi junky, if not a downright affcionado. Vu, the master chef on board the Manna truck, and her partner and husband, Larry know how to take this classic Vietnamese sandwich and give it a good, loving twist.  The veggies  – zukes, mushrooms, and more – were perfectly grilled, awesomely seasoned, and god bless ’em they left out the eggplant just for me. Their version of the traditional carrot/daikon relish was perfectly tangy, the amount of cilantro also perfect.  Not only that, but these folks have tofu on board and they’re not afraid to use it – and they use it well! Of course, a selection of meaty goodness is also available for the omnivores in the crowd. I know that The Steamin’ Demon’s banh mi has an army of die hard fans, but I could never get used to the tempeh bacon they use. This, though, is a banh mi I could eat every day. It will be a challenge to move on to another truck next time, but I’ll try my hardest. Larry, Vu, I’ll be seeing you. A lot.

 

Street Eats for Dessert? Don’t mind if I do!

Street Eats' divine grilled pineapple dessert

You all know I’m a Sugar Lips Mini Donuts addict, and so their absence at CCE is breaking my heart a little. Cream City Treats, or maybe The Bon Bon Buggy, is where I was planning on having dessert today (so good!) but Rich and Sharon at Street Eats had an ace up their sleeve. An ace in the shape of a beautiful slab of grilled pineapple, drizzled with vanilla yummness something or other, a dollop of marscapone cheese, and a smattering of blueberries. Well, hello, my new love!  Of course, variety is the spice of life, so I might have to start rotating my desserts through Street Eats, Cream City’s beautiful ice cream sandwiches, that frozen Brownie Pop from the Bon Bon Buggy, and the reliable always yummy Mile High Mocha from the Cupcake Truck. Rough life, hm?

And Coffee from the Cozy Bean to Go

Stiles of the Cozy Bean

Stiles of the Cozy Bean, possibly the cutest coffee truck ever.

I wrapped up the day with a fabulous cold brewed iced coffee from Stiles at the Cozy Bean, which just has to be about the coziest, cutest truck on the streets. Watching Stiles, who invariably has a smile on his face (a welcome change for a barista!) operate inside that sweet old van is just too much, and the coffee was delicious.

I met a slew of great new people today (Vickie and Nikki who were falling for Pinche Tacos, a whole host of out of towners whose jobs apparently entail discovering why Denver is so amazing so that they can take those lessons back home, and more), ran into tons of colleagues (you’ll be horrified to learn that there were at least 6 librarians walking around CCE at one point), and got to catch up with some of my favorite vendors. Did you all know that Biker Jim was a vegetarian for four years?! Hilarious. And, for the record, he makes his own vegan dogs. More on that another day, though. For now, Denver, what did you eat?! What did you think? And what will you eat next time!? Let me know in the comments.

And a tip of the camera lens to our writer, Chef Pat, for the great photos! The ones below that were taken with a real camera are hers!