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Ohio Village Family Food Truck Festival, August 23rd and 24th

16 Jul

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The Ohio Historical Society had a rebrand this summer to The Ohio History Connection, but the change in name has not meant a change in a food truck appreciation and focus. Some of the earliest food truck events in Columbus were held at their address on 17th Ave. and this summer that tradition continues.

A parking fee of $6 gets everyone you can fit in your vehicle into the event. Once there, guests have full access to all of the museum exhibits at no charge as well as kid friendly games and activities including a bounce house. Or you can meander among the craft vendors between meals while listening to bands throughout the day.

Bands playing at the event include:

Bad Medicine
The Shazzbots
Sybling Rivalry
Three Ton Toad

The mobile food line up has plenty of dessert options including Culvers, Jeni’s, Sweet! Mobile Cupcakery , Go Cupcake and Funnel Cake Station.

Food options include Pitabilities, Flattop Pizza, Tatoheads and more.

For more information and updates check this link -> 2014 Ohio Family Food Truck Festival

Schmidt’s Sausage Truck

30 May

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Cuisine: Bavarian

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In 1886, the Schmidt family started selling sausages and other meats in Columbus. In September 2012, Schmidt’s launched their Sausage Truck. Although the truck was new, Schmidt’s was not new to mobile food. Schmidt’s sold sausages from carts in the early days and they have been selling their wares from the Ohio State Fair for over a century. In between the early days and today, they also launched the city’s most iconic restaurant, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. So it seems fitting that Schmidt’s would finally take to the streets with a few of their fan favorites.

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The menu features Bavarian favorites including: Bahama Mama, Bratwursts, Knockwursts, Fat Daddy’s (Thickly sliced, spicy German balogna sandwiches), Frankfurters and German Potato Salad. And have no fear, the truck carries as many cream puffs as they can squeeze in. Throughout the year, seasonal daily specials are offered such as soups and main dishes. Occasionally a special cream puff flavor will find a way on the menu as well.

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I’ll back track a bit to the Bahama Mama. If you are new to Columbus then you may not have heard of Schmidt’s most famous, signature dish. It is a mildly spicy sausage made with a mix of beef and pork with a touch of hickory smoke. If you can’t make it to German Village, a Schmidt’s Sausage Truck (we will see a second launch this year) will bring it to you.

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Melty Crue

24 May

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Cuisine: Extreme Grilled Cheese inspired by coronary artery disease

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614.316.7805

The food truck owner equivalent of Tommy Lee is Neil Hertenstein. Neil has always been a go really big or go home type of guy. He drives around in a bright yellow Hummer and you can see below, when he decided to help launch a new truck concept in Columbus…..he was dedicated.

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Neil Hertenstein, along with partners, Carlos Pasillias and Jason Davis are the dynamic trio behind Hungry Monkey (burgers) and Juniors Tacos (Carlos started his truck back in 2010 but opted to join forces with Neil a few years ago) decided Columbus needed more cheese in its diet. The concept is about 6 months old (as of May 2014) but quickly won best new food truck in Columbus in an Alive! poll.

So in case you have not already guessed the truck has a Motley Crue / heavy metal theme in everything it does including the wrap on the truck, the music in the background but thankfully not the hair.

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As for the menu – guests have a choice of fifteen styles of grilled cheese or customized Mac & Cheese.

I tried the Primal Reuben which included: grilled marble rye, shaved corn beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, double servings of mozzarella, provolone and Muenster (yes that is seven slices of cheese) and a bit of siracha mayonnaise to help all of that slide down.

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I’m happy to report the sandwich tastes really good. And unexpected bonus was that it was served with some high-end potato chips and a pickle. Here is an inside tip for you. Always eat the pickle – it aids digestion.

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The Flat Top Pizza Company

18 May

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Cuisine: Pizza, Ice Cream, Soda and Seasonal specials

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614.285.4309

We begin with a bit of Columbus Mobile Food culture. You may have heard of Mikey’s Late Night Slice, a guy named Mike started the first mobile pizza empire in the city. Then you may have heard of Pizza Mike, Mike Evans owned the first restaurant (pizzeria) in Westerville to serve booze in the dry city. Then his pizzeria burned down. Mike was on the Great Food Race and used that experience to start a food truck last year. And then there is Mike and Other Mike. In 2012 a couple of lads working on a food cart decided they needed to do something different to stand out from the cart crowd, so they started doing a grilled cheese style pizza on a cart. The concept worked but they found a cart limiting so they started working on a truck. It took a lot longer to build out the truck than expected so Mike opted for full-time employment while Other Mike continued plugging, painting and paying away on the Pizza Truck. Other Mike is owner/operator/dough slinger Mike Cyan. The lesson of this paragraph – if your name is Mike you are probably running a pizza truck. The name of the truck is an homage to how the pizza is crafted, on a flat top grill.

Flat Top pizza is much more than pizza. The menu also includes truck made ice cream and craft soda. Future menu items may include pepperoni rolls, cinnamon rolls and soups.

The pizzas start with homemade dough and high grade ingredients. The sauces and pesto are made from scratch.

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The ice cream is made in small batches and served in scoops or floats.

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The soda pops are hand crafted as well with a mix of traditional with not so traditional flavors. Mike makes special syrups and flavorings for each pop, which are mixed to order.

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As for the name, Flat Top Pizza is made on a grill not in a pizza oven. The end result still combines pizza with a little grilled cheese char.

We like the look of the truck as well (as do many of the other food truck owners in town). Mike spent a long time crafting his truck, doing almost all of the work on his own. There is a cool retro look to the truck (a Grumman, older than he is) with wood doors integrated into the design. Adding to the retro, pizza to go is served in paper bags (the way pizza was served back in the 1940′s and 1950′s. Flat Top officially launched in May 2014 so keep an eye out for truck as it starts to build a following at the usual spots. The easiest place to find Flat Top in action will be Zauber Brewing Company check with the truck and the brewery for schedule information.

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Velvet Mini Ice Cream Truck

10 May

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Cuisine: Ice Cream
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It may be hard to conceive or even believe but there is more to ice cream than Jeni’s. Velvet Ice Cream has been in the business for ONE HUNDRED YEARS!. So they know what they are doing. To celebrate a century of scooping the company decided to do something very 21st century – launch a food truck.

The truck is definitely mini, the smallest we have seen in the business. It is a former mail delivery truck with a few freezers added in. The truck is based in Utica so we salute the driver who made the journey to Columbus to share ice cream with the people. The truck is dubbed Mini and you will find it all over the region wherever ice cream is needed. You can track its whereabouts via Twitter at #Velvets100th. We hope that Mini sticks around past this summer, it’s so cute.

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The Food Truck / Brewery Connection

6 May

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Inside the various subcultures in Columbus, there are two groups that stand out for working together within their industries and partnering with others to promote the best of our city. Well, we are obviously biased, but we are more than casual observers of how the craft beer community of Columbus continually pulls together to help and promote each other. We also see this in the world of mobile food. And for these two groups, we are happy that their worlds have collided.

After spending a fortune to open a brewery, few new brewers have the time, square footage, cash flow (for staffing or equipment) and energy to open a restaurant or brewpub at their brewery. Food Trucks make a living by being mobile, but they benefit from being able to have a stable place to consistently set up. The food trucks need a place in the afternoon and evening to practice their craft and breweries would like to have food to pair with their drafts. The solution – pair these two micro businesses together.

It has been interesting to watch how these two small business types support each other. Zauber Brewing Company was the first microbrewery to offer consistent schedules for food trucks. Today, Zauber features food trucks up to seven days per week. Seventh Son Brewing Company in Italian Village has been running a consistent schedule for food trucks for almost a year, offering dinner service on Thursday and Friday as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Buckeye Lake Brewery features food trucks on most Thursdays during the warmer weather. While not a brewery, the Ohio Tap Room also serves as a home to food trucks from time to time. Four String Brewing and The Actual Brewing Company also use food trucks for special events. This is more than a fad or trend, it is almost a necessity to pair good food with good beer to keep customers happy. We think this is great for the community too and we know we will see more pairings of these businesses in 2014 and beyond.

Columbus Brew Adventures visits the breweries mentioned above and they are happy to make food truck suggestions along the way. Their sister company, Columbus Food Adventures has rolled out their Food Truck Tour for another season. Both companies showcase how the Breweries and Food Trucks support each other. Eat Local and Drink Local – we can get behind that.

Explorers Club Food Truck

6 Jul

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Facebook: explorersclubmv
StreetFoodFinder: Coming Soon

The Explorers Club Restaurant is about eighteen months past the day the doors opened. While other restaurants entered the mobile food world before Explorers Club, the team behind the wheel of this truck started preparing back in 2012.

Shortly after the restaurant opened, they started to rent a food cart to help get the word out about the Explorer’s Club at different community events. They did well with the cart and saw the advantages of going mobile with a truck including having extra kitchen space in a building where cooking quarters are tight as well as a much easier way to build out a catering business. The truck launched in late May of this year and has been keeping busy doing corporate lunches, events, late night and weddings.

Like the restaurant, the menu is eclectic. While it often has a southwestern / latin theme the sky is the limit for what one might find on the menu on any given day. A few examples are posted below.

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A few examples are shown below. Tots, one of the most sought items on mobile food menus, are frequently on the menu and in many of the Explorers Club Menu items. The example below is the Sloppy Jose Burrito which includes mac and cheese, Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), seasons tots and some saucy goodness.

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Tacos in various forms are frequent flyers on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, but always tacos with a twist of one sort or another.

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For breakfast, this truck has the best options in the business including breakfast burritos, chorizo sausage Biscuits and gravy and one of my favorites an egg sandwich on Cuban bread with Swiss Cheese, jalapeno mayonnaise and jalapeno slaw.

For vegetarians, there are typically one or more strong options on the menu. For fans of the restaurant, many of the menu items are based on core ingredients at the Explorers Club but this is not a recycling of menu concepts so you will find selections you won’t find elsewhere. The items on the food truck menu are meant to be served fast and are friendly to eating on the go.

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Food (Truck) Food Fight: June 25th 10 am to 6 pm at Columbus State Community College

14 Jun

Food Fight June 25th

Pizza Cottage

27 May

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Facebook: PizzaCottageFoodTruck
Twitter: @Pizza_Cottage
Website: http://pizzacottagetruck.com
StreetFoodFinder: Here

Pizza Cottage is not the first Brick and Mortar Restaurant in central Ohio that decided to go Mobile (we have Schmidt’s, maybe Giant Eagle Market Place Foodie Truck and kind of Sweet Carrot (caterers) that took that path), but they did decide to go mobile with a vengeance. The Pizza Cottage Food Trucks is large….maybe the longest of the pack. It is fully staffed (often a crew of four to six), has plenty of top of the line equipment, two serving windows, a video menu screen and all of the bells and all of the whistles. And the truck is everywhere in Columbus (not bad considering it is based on Lancaster).

However, as a new truck, it violates the first rule of Mobile Pizza in Columbus. We have Pizza Mike’s Kitchen, Flat Top Pizza (Mike and the Other Mike) and Mikey’s Late Night Slice. On my first visit to Pizza Cottage I could locate no Mike’s on the truck.

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The menu offers full pizzas (at some sites), pizza by the slice – always pepperoni or cheese, and often other varieties. A selection of subs and salads are featured as well. If you catch the truck on the right day at the right venue, you can have breakfast from the truck as well.

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The must try item from the menu is the BLT Pizza. It has the elements of a BLT – Bacon, lettuce and tomato with the addition of cheese and pizza crust that bridges the worlds of both bun and pizza crust. The pizza crust part of the sandwich has the doughy and chewy apsects of pizza dough but the crunch and firmness of a toasted bun. The cheese and the bacon fuse well together to hold the rest of the sandwich/pizza/sandwich together to make it easy to eat.

See the BLT Pizza below:

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Photos of a slice or pizza and an Italian Sub are below.

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Taco Sherpa

21 May

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Facebook: Coming Soon
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Website: Coming Soon
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There is another Granville-based Food Truck to add to our list – Taco Sherpa. This truck also has some food truck history. Recycling trucks is pretty common in the business. Buying an existing business and keeping it as is has happened in Columbus before(Cheesy Truck). This time, we see Taco Sherpa, a well-known food truck from Chattanooga, Tennessee journey to Central Ohio to start a second life with Jon Ulmer and Ian Carroll. Ian is not stranger to the food truck scene, he had worked for the Burrito Bus in the past.

Another bit of interesting back story. Since there are not many Korean (or Korean inspired) food trucks this side of the Mississippi, Laura Lee from Ajuamama not only knew of Taco Sherpa she communicated with the former owners quite a bit. She knew the food truck was for sale but did not know it was purchased until she saw it pull up into the parking lot at The Food Fort when she is based. It is a small world in the Food Truck Biz.

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Now with the back story in the foreground, lets talk about the food. Many attribute the beginning of the national food truck buzz to the Beatlemania style popularity of Kogi Korean BBQ. Since it worked in LA and Chattanooga, Jon and Ian decided….why mess with the concept. They might tweak or change an item or two, but their aim is to stay the course.

The menu is simple. Chicken, Beef or Tofu is delivered in Burrito, Taco, or Quesadilla Form. You can also get a lettuce wrap. Pick a protein and manner of consumption and then pick or don’t a sauce to add to the mix.

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Their three signature sauces are (left to right): Sherpa BBQ, Avacado Wasabi and Lime Crema.

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A few examples of the final product are below.

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Keep an eye out for Taco Sherpa on the streets of Columbus and in Granville.

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