Cuisine: Extreme Grilled Cheese inspired by coronary artery disease
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 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.
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.
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.
It will come as no surprise that we like movies that are about food, especially when they have a great cast and positive reviews. We are excited that Chef is opening in Columbus on Friday and will be showing at the Gateway Film Center for two weeks. We have two movie tickets to give away and you can choose which day and showtime you would like to go to. On opening night Friday May 23rd, there will be food trucks at South Campus Gateway including Ajumama, Red Snapper and Short North Bagel Deli to get you in the spirit. Friday showtimes are 5.40pm and 8.10pm and the food trucks will be in action from 5pm.
Written by, directed by, produced by and starring Jon Favreau – Chef features an all-star cast including Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. and young actor Emjay Anthony. When Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman), he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son (Emjay Anthony) to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love. You can watch the trailer here.
To enter to win two tickets to Chef at the Gateway please leave a comment with your name, email address and favorite food truck. We will pick a winner using a random number generator at noon on Friday May 23rd.
Cuisine: Pizza, Ice Cream, Soda and Seasonal specials
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.
The ice cream is made in small batches and served in scoops or floats.
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.
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.
Cuisine: Ice Cream
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.
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.
Cuisine: Puerto Rican
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).
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.
We also enjoyed the empanadas filled with a chorizo based filling (below) and the passion fruit juice.
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.
This year the Columbus Food Truck and Cart Festival is bigger and better than ever. For the first time the festival spans two days — August 16th and 17th.
There will be 43 food trucks and carts as well as local bands, crafts and local businesses and non-profits and of course — beer! There will be lines at peak hours for the popular trucks, but there’s plenty of space to relax, find a space on the grass and enjoy your food and some local music.
The festival is Friday and Saturday at the Columbus Commons from noon – 10 pm. There’s a parking garage underneath the Commons and plenty of parking in the surrounding area.
The Columbus Commons, 160 S. High Street, Columbus, OH
The festival offers over 43 of central Ohio’s best food trucks and carts, over 30 arts and crafts vendors, Live Music all day both days, onsite beer sales, games for kids and families, and raffle prizes with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Free admission for everyone and all ages welcome.
There are all kinds of foods to choose from. Some of our picks are: That Food Truck, Sweet Carrot, Los Potosinos, The Coop, Sublime Smoke, Paddy Wagon, Red Snapper and Dave’s Jamaican food. We’re looking forward to trying some of the newer and out of town trucks like Not Guilty from Athens Ohio. Here’s the map to help you find your way around.