The Food Truck / Brewery Connection

6 May

Green-Meanie-1024x784

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
Website
Facebook
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).

puerto rican food truck columbus

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.

puerto rican food columbus

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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(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.

panamanian food truck

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.

Columbus Food Adventures Food Truck Tour

15 Jul

food truck food tour

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:

Challah!

10 Jul

jewish food truck columbus ohio

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Challah! debuted on June 30th and is Columbus’ first food truck specializing in Jewish cuisine. It turns out (from a quick google scan) that Jewish food trucks are popular in other cities, offering a combination of traditional favorites and Jewish fusion dishes (corned beef egg rolls!). Challah’s menu is predominantly sandwich-based, so far, with latkes also featuring prominently.

Co-owners Catie Randazzo and Shoshanna Gross recently moved from NYC to Columbus to open the new truck. They plan to use local ingredients whenever possible and everything (except the bread) is made from scratch on the truck. You can read more about the background of the truck here.

We visited them during their (absolutely mobbed) opening on June 30th and again for lunch when the duo were much calmer (if not cooler – food trucks can be brutal in the summer!).

challah menu

Pictured above is Challah’s lunch menu. Their late night menu adds a few more items:

Challah-loo-yah……………….………………………………………..…….…….$6.00
Brined chicken breast dredged in cornmeal and deep-fried. Servedwith pickled red
onion, cucumber and an herb mayo on a toasted challah roll.

Challah Back……………………………………………………………………………$5.00
Fried Egg and potato latke with mayo on a challah roll.
Add Corned Beef for $2.00

Fried Pickles…………………………………………………………………………….$3.00
Beer battered spicy pickles served with a sour cream and dill dipping sauce.

Sandwiches are made with either challah (surprise!) or rye breads, depending on the filling. You can also substitute bread for seasonal greens to make for a gluten free salad option. So far we’ve sampled full sized versions of the corned beef sandwich and the smoked whitefish sandwich as well as some mini samples of some of the others.

The corned beef sandwich comes with a homemade Russian dressing and smoky, vinaigrette-based coleslaw. It was a delicious, with one possible point of contention – the fattiness of the corned beef itself. To be fair, this is an entirely debatable point – there are definitely those who feel that the fattier the better, as far as corned beef goes.

jewish street food

The smoked whitefish sandwich (pictured below) is as appealing visually as it is tasty. Beets (no, they’re not tomato slices) may seem a surprising sandwich topping, but we thought they worked brilliantly with the whitefish. There’s a good balance of textures with a nice crunch from the latke contrasting the soft tuna salad-like whitefish. The whitefish is not overly strong in flavor and also not too heavy on mayo, a plus in our book. We also liked the added dill.

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Latkes are also available as a side and, as alluded to before, they have a nice crunchy exterior. The inside was tender and silky, and onions and potatoes were well balanced. I thought they’d be even better with some kind of dip or sauce, a little sour cream perhaps.

Challah! is a great new debut, and we’re looking forward to both seeing how they evolve and trying out their late night menu.

Explorers Club Food Truck

6 Jul

truck

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.

menu prime

menu 2

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.

burrito

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

tacos

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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