Cafe Society

Denver street food: The best meals-on-wheels of 2010

The first mobile food vendor on wheels was launched nearly 150 years ago, in 1872, when a Rhode Island native called Walter Scott trotted his horse-drawn freight wagon, stocked with sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and pies around the town of Providence, satiating the bellies of late-night factory workers.

A century and a half later, street wagons have come full circle, weaving their way into the culinary landscape as seamlessly as diners and fast-food chains. The roving meals-on-wheels movement -- which began in earnest in Los Angeles in early 2009, when Mark Manguera, Caroline Shin-Manguera and Roy Choi, a former chef of Le Bernardin and RockSugar, unleashed a fleet of Korean barbecue trucks -- has since gained serious momentum, with cities like Austin, Portland, New York and Denver slinging upscale grub from the confines of tricked-out air stream trailers, antiquated ice cream trucks, mail trucks and wagons, wrapped with expressive, bold graphics.

But food trucks, at least in Denver, aren't the only pushers of awesome pavement cuisine. This past year also saw the upward mobility of food carts, especially on the 16th Street Mall, which, until very recently, was little more than a pedestrian promenade of mirror-image hot dog vendors, save for revolutionary rebel Biker Jim, who, as we all know, is game -- pun intended -- for just about anything.

We spent hours upon hours over the past several months digesting Denver's street-food scene, and we've compiled a roundup of our ten favorite street-food warriors that launched in 2010, all of which should be added to your New Year's resolution list of where to eat in 2011.