Crazy Wagon offers global comfort food from a vintage van in Edwards
Crazy Mountain Brewery and Red Mountain Grill are teaming up for a six-course beer dinner on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Avon restaurant. Pairings include the Boohai Red Ale with sockeye salmon summer rolls, the Horseshoes & Hand Grenades ESB with chipotle skirt steak with chimichurri and roasted green chili mashers and the Scenic Route Kolsch paired with strawberry marscarpone shortcake and port wine syrup for dessert. Tickets, which are $24.95, are available at Red Mountain Grill. Call 970-748-1010 for more information.
Along with food served on a stick, there’s something strangely alluring about food served out of a truck, especially when it’s super tasty food. Enter the Crazy Wagon, the latest food truck to show up in town. The light mint green 1969 Chevy panel van recently relocated from Santa Fe, N.M., where tacos and other Mexican specialties were cooked up inside, to outside of Crazy Mountain Brewery in Edwards. The truck has been gutted and outfitted with a new tented tin roof, a fryer, griddle, fridge, a few coolers and a sandwich bar. There’s not a whole lot of room to move around, and not a ton of storage space, but “that’s what’s fun about it,” said David Nowakowski, the chef running the outfit.
Crazy Mountain Brewery’s Marisa Selvy, who co-owns the business with her husband, head brewer Kevin, said the only reason people would leave the brewery would be to go and get food. With the food truck, she hopes to alleviate that problem.
“Denver is this great food truck city and we wanted to jump into that gourmet food truck scene and bring it here,” Nowakowski said.
Though Nowakowski has been serving food from the walk-up window for a few weeks now, the truck makes its official debut at the brewery on Friday for a Colorado summer harvest party. This week, Nowakowski will be prepping for the special menu, which includes roasted leg of Colorado lamb with garlic and rosemary; house-smoked trout; Olathe sweet corn with chili-lime butter; farmstand salad with arugula and heirloom tomatoes; and Palisade peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. Tickets for Friday’s event are $15, which gets you a plate of food and two pints of Crazy Mountain beer.
“We wanted the opening night menu to be very accessible and affordable,” Selvy said.
While Friday night’s menu sticks pretty close to home, the truck’s usual menu, advertised on a chalkboard to the left of the window and served from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, is much more global and eclectic. There are Korean-style short rib tacos, topped with kimchee slaw made with cabbage and romaine lettuce dressed with chili flakes, fresh ginger, sesame oil and rice vinegar. A smattering of marinated onions and salsa verde complete the tasty taco. Nowakowski braises the meat for four hours in a combination of Crazy Mountain’s Horseshoes & Hand Grenades ESB beer, apple juice, soy sauce, garlic and onions. The majority of the cooking is done in a commissary kitchen in Eagle and assembled and warmed in the truck before it’s served, he said.
The pork used for the carnitas tacos is also cooked for four hours; roasted in the oven with lime broth, bay leaves and cinnamon. The tender meat is served in corn tortillas and topped with pineapple-tomatillo-serrano salsa and queso fresco.
“Everything we can do, we’ll do from scratch,” he said.
The salsa options — there’s also mango-habanero and fresh pico de gallo — and guacamole on the menu are fresh-made each day. The fries are hand cut and tossed with salt, pepper and just a touch of fresh chopped hops, making them the perfect accompaniment to the brewery’s Hookiebobb IPA.
The wings are another must-try. First, you should know that Nowakowski is from Buffalo, N.Y., which means “wings are my thing,” he said. His chicken wings are a three-day project. First, he brines them in garlic and bay leaves, then, after they dry out, he smokes them the next day in a smoker that local ’cue expert BBQ Brad Austin used to own, which now sits outside the brewery. On the third day, Nowakowski finishes the wings in the fryer and adds his wing sauce, a riff on the traditional sauce with the addition of lemon, chili flakes and a little butter. A heap of wings are served with blue cheese dressing and crisp celery sticks.
“I could eat just a basket of those for lunch,” Selvy said.
Each week, the special grilled cheese on the menu will evolve. When we were there it was a combination of cheddar, bacon, tomato and avocado. The authentic Cuban sandwich is also very popular. It’s made with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard and pressed on the grill. All menu items are served with either tortilla chips or kettle-cooked potato chips.
“We’ll have two to three new menu items each week, with a focus on fresh, in-season products,” Nowakowski said.
‘Favorite comfort foods from around the world’
Come fall, when the weather gets a bit colder, Selvy and Nowakowski are already conspiring about heartier fare.
“We want to include our top favorite comfort foods from around the world, everything from Thai to Ethiopian food,” Selvy said. “We want to do pho — a steaming bowl of noodles in the winter sounds good. Being from San Francisco, I miss that ethnically diverse food.”
There are plenty of themed events in the planning stages as well. They’d like to cook a whole pig in the smoker, and maybe have a clambake around Labor Day.
The food is quite affordable — $8 or $9 for all the menu items, and $2 for French fries or $3 for chips and guac.
The picnic tables in the brewery’s beer garden, right next to the truck, provide a nice spot if you want to eat in the sunshine, or you can duck inside the brewery for shade.