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.

Cilantro

6 Sep

cilantro food truck columbus

Cuisine: Puerto Rican
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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.

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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.

Columbus Food Truck and Cart Festival 2013

14 Aug

Columbus Food Truck festival

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.

Where:
The Columbus Commons, 160 S. High Street, Columbus, OH

What:
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.

Columbus food truck festival map 2013

Teodora’s Kitchen

26 Jul

Teodora's panamanian food truck

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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:
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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:

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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.

Columbus Food Adventures Food Truck Tour

15 Jul

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It’s obviously no secret that we’re big fans of good food truck cuisine, and it’s probably not a big secret that two of us are also the owner operators of a food tour business called Columbus Food Adventures.

So, it should come as no surprise that Columbus Food Adventures has introduced a Food Truck Tour. A really, really, good one, if we do say so ourselves… which is the type of thing we’re prone to saying when we’re working with partners we can be this enthusiastic about.

We’ve run our first couple of tours recently, and they went very well. We’ve never hit the ground running so completely as we did on this one, and that’s not a boast – it’s entirely due to the great food, friendly receptions, and consummate professionalism of the participating trucks.

Columbus has a lot of food trucks. If you’d like a worry-free overview of some of the best of them, we’d encourage you to join us for this tour. Stops on this tour include some of the best barbecue the city has to offer, fried chicken as you’ve never had it before (unless you’ve already been to this truck!), Korean street food prepared by a noted chef, and the surprisingly accessible and absolutely addictive flavors of a skilled Indonesian chef duo.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please see here. We also run a taco truck tour.

Here’s a video of the new food truck tour:

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