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El Rinconcito Pupuseria

27 Jun

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El Riconcito
Salvadorean
2400 E Dublin Granville Road
614.254.1739
Open Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm

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Pupuserias in Columbus have come and gone, often quite quickly, but we have more confidence in the longevity of El Riconcito because the owner Betty is a long time employee of veteran taco truck Taco Nazo. We also anticipate they will do well because their food is very good. The menu has four main dishes pupusas, enchilladas Salvadorenos, pasteles Salvadorenos and carne a la plancha.

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The pupusas come in several variations – pork, chicken, cheese, beans or a mixture (revuletos). Loroco is a flower that is often added to cheese pupusas. The pupusas were well cooked (as you can see from the picture) and are served as typical with curtido, a slightly spicy pickled slaw and a tomato based hot sauce (mild or hot).

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Enchiladas Salvadorenos are similar to a Mexican tostada. At El Rinconcito they are comprised of a homemade tortilla topped with beans, chicken, lettuce, cheese tomato, cucumber and hard boiled egg.

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Our favorite item was the pasteles Salvadorenos which are small crispy empanadas with a corn based shell that are filled with chicken, rice and potatoes. They make a great snack. The pasteles and the enchiladas are both served with curtido. The last item on the menu is the carne a la plancha – meat cooked on the grill. It’s served with rice, beans, avocados, salsa and tortillas.

IMG_2044El Riconcito also serves horchata.

We are planning a meet up at the truck on July 8th at from 6-9pm.

 

Schmidt’s Sausage Truck

30 May

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Cuisine: Bavarian

Website
Twitter
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Street Food Finder
614.444.5050

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

Truck

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.

Neil

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

Website
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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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Cilantro

6 Sep

cilantro food truck columbus

Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Website
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614.899.2550

Cilantro is a Puerto Rican food truck that, as of now, can mainly be found in the Westerville area. It’s owner formerly ran Costelo’s, which was Columbus’ only Puerto Rican restaurant. Cilantro’s menu varies but includes a variety Puerto Rican dishes such as tripletas, pernil, empanadas, arroz con gandules. In addition to the Puerto Rican specials you’ll also find tacos, rice bowls, burritos and sandwiches. On the day we were there they were offering a chorizo and chicken (‘choripollo’) sandwich and their spin on a Cuban sandwich. Not offered on the day we visited was the tripleta, a Puerto Rican sandwich made with 3 different meats (usually pork, ham and beef).

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We really liked the pernil special – tender, juicy Puerto Rican style roasted pork shoulder served with a generous side of rice and beans (arroz con gandules), salad and plantains. The plantains were served on the side and we were given both sweet plantains and tostones (savory plantain slices). All in all, a very hearty lunch for $10.

Cilantro food truck columbus

We also enjoyed the empanadas filled with a chorizo based filling (below) and the passion fruit juice.

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If you are looking for Puerto Rican food in Columbus it’s definitely worth tracking down Cilantro, best done by following them on Facebook. The food is tasty and good value. The owner said that he can make other Puerto Rican dishes as special orders with advance notice.

Teodora’s Kitchen

26 Jul

Teodora's panamanian food truck

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(614) 282-9636

Teodora’s is a mother/daughter+ operation serving the mother’s native Panamanian cuisine. I caught them on their first day of operation, and may well have been their first customer.

This usually isn’t a good thing – you can’t really evaluate a food business of any sort based upon their opening moments, but you can, at minimum, reasonably surmise that if it’s good at the start, it has a promising future.

So, to be frank – if it wasn’t good, I wouldn’t be writing this. It wouldn’t be fair. And, while there were a few minor hiccups here and there, the food, the truck, and the value proposition were truly impressive from the very start.

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As to value, look at what you get for $8:
carne frita teodoras

That’s Teodora’s carne fritas – a generous portion of flavorful skirt steak, on a rice and yuca base smothered in lentils, served with an intriguing take on potato salad and a nice, chunky house made pico de gallo style salsa. Everything was spot on, and for someone who isn’t normally much of a fan of potato salad, their take, which includes beets and fresh peas, satisfied completely. Freshness of the ingredients was conspicuous.

Another $8 option was the empanadas:

panamanian empanadas

These were solidly good, though perhaps a bit less so than the carne fritas. The empanada shells are of the central American variety – corn meal based and delightfully crispy on the outside – and ground beef filled them. I’m a huge fan of these in general, and while I enjoyed them I felt the shell to filling ratio was a bit off and that the flavor of the filling could’ve been amped up a bit more. Still, plenty satisfying, and also a great deal.

Other menu items that you can bet I’ll be back to try include tamales and arroz con pollo.

A fun parting thought – Panama is the connector between North & South America, and I couldn’t help but be tickled by how the two dishes I tried illustrated that vividly. The carne fritas vibed very similar to a Brazilian PF style picanha steak dish (substitute beans for the lentils and it’d be a dead ringer), and the empanadas were reminiscent of a Salvadoran favorite.

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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