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.
Corner of Gay and High St.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire? Last year we wrote a post about Johnny Oak’s cajun BBQ truck. In it’s previous iteration, they were serving up BBQ, but have recently moved away from that after finding that downtown office workers called the fire department when they spied plumes of BBQ exhaust emanating from their on-site smoker.
Having closed his North Campus restaurant, Johnny is now focusing on mobile food completely, and the revamped menu found on his new trailer (in the same downtown location) is closer in content to the old restaurant menu.
Johnny is deliberately trying to keep his prices down, and as a result his sandwiches are one of the best lunch deals around. We heartily recommend the creole shrimp po boy, and were particularly impressed with the plump, tasty and well cooked shrimp. Not too surprising for a place that has the crustacean featured in its name, but we can think of a few seafood-themed restaurants that should be begging him for his supplier’s contact info. The photo below, sadly, is not a great picture and it’s not the whole sandwich either – this thing was huge (as in, probably 14″ long), and all of $5.50.
There are also sides available if you have room for them. Of the two we tried (beans and greens) we preferred the greens which featured a generous amount of bacon.
If you’re in a hurry you can call or text in your order. But don’t forget to leave a tip – as of our last visit, the cooks were working for gratuity alone.
Also, keep an eye out around town – Johnny is prepping a full-on Cajun assault with the impending debut of a fleet of 4 trucks.
You may have already seen the Kolache Republic at farmers markets, street food events or festivals but now they have their own cart and are hitting the streets of Columbus. If you haven’t, you might be wondering what a kolache is – or how to pronounce it (koh-lah-chee). A kolache is a Czech pastry made of slightly sweet dough baked with a wide variety of fruit, nut, sweet cheese and meat fillings. They are popular in areas with large Czech populations such as Texas.
Kolache Republic is a joint venture between three guys, Rick, Doug and Dusty, who were craving kolaches and couldn’t find them in Columbus. Unfulfilled food cravings seems a common food business initiator. Kolache Republic now make over 30 varieties of sweet and savory kolache to order and as well as serving them on the cart you can find them at the Celebrate Local pop up store at Easton.
Here was today’s menu:
My favorite are the sausage, pepper jack and jalapeno kolaches, so of course that’s what I had today. A doughy cheesy bundle with mild juicy sausage and some warmth from the jalapeno. It’s a great cold weather snack.
Kolache Republic will be on Broad Street (just east of Third) again tomorrow from 11am-2pm, so if you are walking around downtown stop by, say hi and try a kolache.
Munch Box got off to a hesitant start this spring, but you can now see them on a regular basis at Columbus Commons as participants in Lunch on the Lawn (Wednesdays 10am-2pm). From what we’ve heard, we’re sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of them elsewhere as well in the future.
Munch Box offers a choice of wraps or flatbreads with a variety of toppings/fillings. As well as the menu items pictured above, we’ve also seen them offer scallop flatbreads, hummus wraps, stew and sandwiches in the past.
We tried the steak braised beef with poblano cilantro, pesto, and brussels sprout slaw on flatbread. The meat was both tender and flavorful, and the slaw accompanied it well (although it might be a bit on the vinegary side for some). The flatbread base was somewhat unusual – it seemed like more of a flattened wrap than what we’d typically think of as a flatbread, and it got soggy when the toppings were added.
Munch balls are cake balls that come in a variety of flavors and are something fun to share if you are eating with a group of friends. We’re looking forward to trying more of their offerings on future visits.
Short North Bagel Deli
Owned and operated by Jeremy Fox, Short North Bagel Deli is the latest cart to hit the streets of Columbus. Short North Bagel Deli specializes in steamed bagel sandwiches which Jeremy first tried and fell in love with when he visited his sister at Miami University. Bagel and Deli has a cult following in Oxford and has spawned steamed bagel delis in several other cities. A steamed bagel sandwich is different from having a toasted bagel sandwich because the whole sandwich is steamed warming the bagel and fillings and melting the cheese.
The cart uses Blocks Bagels (plain, wholewheat, sesame and everything) and offers a surprisingly wide variety of sandwich options. The most popular so far is the Good Ole Goodale with thin-sliced turkey, Colby, cream cheese, avocado, tomato, lettuce, sprouts and honey mustard. We tried the special the Camelot, with turkey, bacon, avocado, brie and mayo on an everything bagel. You can also make up your own sandwich.
When you get your bagel it will be almost to hot to hold, but eat it quickly as it will start to get tough as it cools down. Make sure you grab some napkins too – the sandwiches can get pretty messy with all those steamed melt-y fillings.
Although the cart is called ‘Short North Bagel Deli, you will find Jeremy in locations all over town. He is currently downtown during lunchtimes, at Camelot Cellars (Short North) some evenings and at Groovy Spoon (Clintonville) or Farmer’s Markets on other evenings. Keep up with his locations on his website or on facebook or twitter.
Cuisine: Cajun BBQ
Gay and High st.
Monday-Friday 11am-3pm (or until sold out)
Last summer the corner of Gay and High was home to the cupcake truck 3 Babes and a Baker. This summer it has a new resident – Johnny Oak’s Cajun BBQ. If the name Johnny Oak’s sounds familiar it’s because Johnny already has a restaurant in Columbus – Johnny Oak’s Po Boy and Shrimp Shack located on North Campus. You won’t find any Po Boys here though, as the truck and restaurant offer different menus (the only overlap is the side dishes all of which Johnny himself cooks from scratch). Both menus have the same inspiration, the period of time that Johnny lived in New Orleans.
Johnny opened the Po Boy Shack 5 years ago when he wanted to get out of the construction business and do something that he loved. Johnny (pictured above) is a character and an extremely warm host who offered us samples to help us decide what to order. He jokes with customers ‘this ain’t Burger King’ and takes justified pride in his food. He closed up shop early the day we were there because he was almost sold out and didn’t want the remaining small amount of meat to dry out on the grill.
Here’s the menu, which as you can see will have some variability based on the whims of the owner.
We split two sandwiches and were divided over whether we preferred the pulled pork or the brisket. The pulled pork was a delicious mess of a sandwich oozing with BBQ sauce and coleslaw (note to self – don’t wear a white shirt). The pork was tender and the creamy coleslaw balanced the heat of the BBQ sauce. I also liked the crunch that the coleslaw added.
The blackened brisket was nicely (but not overly) fatty, juicy and with less sauce than the pork. The beans were what really won my heart, less sweet than the usual bbq baked beans, with a decent kick of heat and a rich flavorful broth. The greens with bacon were also very good, less bitter than others I have had.
As well as running the truck and restaurant Johnny caters parties and will pretty much grill any meat for you from goat to turkeys. He also builds and remodels trailers and trucks. There’s more information about the restaurant, catering and trucks here.