Later that day, after our great food-truck lunch, we went to the luxurious and classic Brown Palace Hotel for afternoon tea. The lobby is spectacular and reminded me somewhat of the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia. They also had a bar named after one of my favorite historical figures.
The tea service itself was a real treat, with trays of finger sandwiches, scones and fancy pastries. We love classic afternoon tea and have enjoyed it at several locals in Philly. What we had in Denver was very similar to what we’ve experienced in our home region.
Our tea service was late enough in the day for us to skip dinner that evening. The next day, we couldn’t wait to get back to the park next to the state house to check out more lunch trucks. To our slight surprise, most of the trucks from the previous day were not there, but an equally impressive array had replaced them.
I settled on sliders for my lunch that second day, and followed them up with more ice cream. The red tint on the food photos is the result of sitting under red umbrellas while eating. But I can report that my mini burgers were very good; with caramelized onions adding to the flavor.
There was still one more day of lunch trucks that week and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what else they had available. I had resisted the urge to try one of the barbecue trucks the previous two days, but went for a ribs and beans plate from Lena B Bar-B-Que on day number three. The owner and I had a nice conversation on meat-smoking techniques while I waited for my meal, which turned out to be very satisfying.
While I had mixed feelings about this trip overall, I will always have wonderful memories of the three days of food-truck lunches that we enjoyed while in Denver. If any of my readers visit the city between June and September, do yourself a favor and check out Civic Center Eats.. It features a seemingly endless array of food in a gorgeous setting.
Following our third truck-lunch, we were off for a sightseeing activity that I was eagerly anticipating; a tour of Empower Field at Mile High, the home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, who were the defending Super Bowl champions at that point. We caught a train out to the stadium and went past a legendary roadfood restaurant that I wish we had eaten at while in Denver; the Buckhorn Exchange, which is known for steaks and wild game meats.
I may have actually been visiting a part of my family’s history when we arrived at the stadium. My paternal grandfather lived in Denver as a child. I was able to find a little information about the family online before heading out there. To my surprise, I discovered that my great grandfather (and possibly also my great-great grandfather) owned a grocery store that appears to have been in what is now the stadium’s parking lot – if Google Maps is to be believed.
The tour turned out to be a great experience. We were taken into everything from the press and TV announcer booths to the visiting team’s locker room. The Broncos’ locker room remained off limits. We were told it’s a bit nicer than what the visitors get.
The other big highlight of the tour was going down onto the field; or actually the grass next to the field. I took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pose for a photo in my best lineman’s stance.
After the tour concluded, we caught a train back to Denver’s Union Station, which is spectacular in its own right. Unfortunately, my photos of it are gone, but I recommend checking this place out. It’s got to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the country, and it also has a few places to eat while enjoying the sights.
Before going to dinner we checked out some of the downtown shops and were most impressed with one called Rocket Fizz, which had an amazing array of sodas and candy; two things that are near and dear to my heart. I even saw the candy cigarettes I used to eat when I was a kid, before such things were frowned upon.
Our dinner that evening was in the basement of an atmospheric Italian restaurant called Osteria Marco. I’m a sucker for eggs on pizza and ordered their carbonara pie. It was very enjoyable. For dessert, we shared an excellent raspberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.
Our final meal of note during this vacation was at a restaurant called Work and Class, where the food was a fusion of Southern and Latin-American small plates.
Everything we ordered was extremely tasty. There was gazpacho, macaroni-and-cheese, coke-braised brisket, goat and chickpea croquettes.
For dessert, my wife ordered avocado and lime panna cotta. She absolutely loved it. I went with butterscotch pudding, which I had been anticipating since before arriving in Denver. It lived up to my expectations.
We headed home the following morning. While I still regret not checking out some of the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery beyond Denver during this vacation, writing about the trip has reminded me that there were more than a few highlights inside the city. Of course, first and foremost were those lunch trucks. I doubt I’ll ever see anything like that again. It was like a magnificent outdoor buffet in a beautiful urban setting.
4 thoughts on “Lunch Truck Heaven: Denver 2016 (conclusion)”
I really enjoyed this trip report! Very well done! And the photos were excellent, as usual, especially the ones that gave you a look inside the hotel.
As to all those soda pop bottles on the wall, there is one that is labeled “Bacon” (flavored soda). I bought a bottle of that at Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati; it is the largest grocery store I have ever seen. They are reputed to have at least one of every food item made in the world. (The bacon soda pop wasn’t very good at all.)
Also while there, I bought a single bottled soft drink for some precocious little boys of a friend of mine; it was called “Alien Snot.” I knew they would like that.
Thanks Louis. I will have to check out Jungle Jim’s if I get back to the Cincinnati area. There are also jelly beans with bizarre flavors. Someone gave a container of them to my wife once as a gag gift. One was vomit-flavored. I’m more a traditionalist with such things.
Sounds like Bertie Bots Every Flavor Beans.
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What a different experience! I wouldn’t mind spending a couple of days staying near an area like that, just to be able to sample a wide variety of foods. And your brick-and-mortar choices look pretty solid, too…I’d give those chickpea croquettes a try in a heartbeat!