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The California Wrap Runner has been a mainstay at Civic Center Eats.
The California Wrap Runner has been a mainstay at Civic Center Eats.
Courtesy of California Wrap Runner

Better Late Than Never for Civic Center Eats

No, COVID-19 hasn't completely ruined the summer of 2020; the sun still shines on Colorado every day and the great outdoors still beckon, but the pandemic has certainly quashed some of our favorite summer activities: concerts, beer fests, sporting events and food festivals, including Westword's own Tacolandia, which would have taken place later this month at Civic Center Park.

But outdoor dining at Civic Center Park is not off the table — even if it was postponed a few months. Civic Center Eats returns on Wednesday, August 12, keeping alive the decade-long run of the food truck gathering that helped launch a new era of mobile kitchens in Denver. And once again, Westword is sponsoring this summer tradition.

In years past, Civic Center Eats welcomed food trucks to the park beginning in May, so we're already three months behind on our street food noshing, but you'll be able to make up for some of that lost time because there's something new this year: dinner. The food truck gathering will take place every Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through October 15.

Of course, the whole event will look a little different this year. Instead of twenty or so trucks attracting hundreds of hungry customers to pack the plaza, there will be five trucks at a time, and each of the four weekly sessions will rotate vendors, adding variety for returning customers.

“We know that Civic Center Eats is such a quintessential experience during the summer here, so we’ve been focused on bringing it back to life, even if on a much smaller level,” says Eric Lazzari, executive director of the Civic Center Conservancy, which organizes the food truck rally. “We want to create that culinary experience our Eats fans crave, support our food truck community and breathe some life back into Civic Center — in a safe environment. And we’re excited to offer dinner this year, to give more people a chance to come experience Eats with their friends and families.”

To maintain a safe and healthy environment this year, there will be a roped-off area on the southwest side of the promenade where customers will order and pick up food (rather than standing in line at each food truck). Once you have your pizza, tacos, sandwiches, salads, dumplings, ice cream and other eats, you can enjoy your meal in a designated picnic circle on the lawn or spread out anywhere else in the park — as long as you maintain a safe distance from other guests. Masks will be required while in the ordering and pick-up area, and there will be a one-way traffic flow for entering and leaving.

Here's the complete lineup of trucks that will be making appearances in the coming weeks:

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