This past weekend was the 3rd annual Columbus Food Truck & Cart Festival at Columbus Commons. Over 40+ food trucks and carts gathered in one downtown park, and invited thousands of their biggest fans to party with them.
My mission: I was handed a $20 bill and given one task – to find some of the best food trucks/carts in Columbus. Before I started, I had decided I didn’t want to buy from the more “well known” trucks in town (i.e. Tatoheads, Pitabilities, Ajumama, etc.), not because they don’t serve good food, but I wanted to discover something less known…
When deciding how to cover the event for this blog, I wrestled in my mind with two possibilities – Take photos of anything and everything (including over 40 vendors, plus the food I ate, plus whatever else, all within a 2 hour window), or stick to the trucks and carts I personally encountered. Because it was so darn hot, I chose option #2. Below is a photo log of my food journey…
One of my first encounters was with The Good Frank. They serve pure, Ohio grass-fed, beef hot dogs with a variety of toppings, vegan hot dogs, and lamb brat sliders. Off to the side of the cart, they were offering free samples of their dogs (a great marketing plan), so I partook of a sample. It was extremely tender and fresh, slightly spicy, juicy, and had a hint of smokiness. But it was one of the first carts I came upon, and I decided to keep searching. The Good Frank will definitely be on my radar for the future, though.
I’ve seen The Paddy Wagon around at other festivals, but I don’t think it’s as well known as some others. The only thing I knew about them was that they offer some good BBQ and chicken dishes.
Many of their items focus around their slow roasted, Angus beef brisket, including their signature sandwich – the “15-to-life”, as well as their bourbon-braised brisket tacos, and more…
I ordered the “15-to-Life” BBQ brisket sandwich ($6.00). It came on a lightly toasted hoagie roll, with creamy red slaw and a generous portion of brisket, and was topped with more of their sauce. The meat was pulled nicely and was tender and juicy. I got several larger chunks of brisket, which is always a nice surprise. The BBQ sauce was tangy and the slaw added an additional crunchy texture. It was served with kettle cooked salt & pepper potato chips. Great meal for a cheap price!!
The festival had lots of things for the kiddies to do, too…including a huge, bouncy jungle gym…
And an old-fashioned carousel.
My next stop was at Dave’s Caribbean Food. Dave’s serves a wide variety of savory, traditional favorites such as ox tail, jerk chicken, curry goat and more. Jerk chicken is one of my favorites, and I would have loved to try one of the other main dishes they offer, but I had just finished off that BBQ, and I was feeling it.
I went with a smaller option, the Jamaican Beef Patty ($3.00). Several years ago, when my wife and I lived in PA, we had a friend from Jamaica who taught me how to make her family recipe beef patties. Dave’s patty came pretty close to being as good as that one. The pastry was tender and flaky, but lacked the slight curry taste that I wanted. The beef filling was warm and tasty, and was seasoned nicely. Some families put small, diced potatoes in their beef mixture as well, but this one was all beef. It was good, and I would definitely go back to Dave’s to try some of their other foods, too.
“Longest line of the day award” goes to this place, Island Noodles. They serve up fresh soba noodles with veggies & meat options. It was definitely a popular choice that day. That line stretched back at least 60 people!!
Look at the size of that wok!! Those noodles looked so good, but it was hot, and the line was getting longer and longer. I had to move on. I’m all about food now, not food later…LOL.
Several local bands took the stage while I was at the festival. During the two-day event, there were many talented musicians who performed for the enjoyment of the masses.
Believe it or not, I had yet to eat at Mikey’s Late Night Slice, until I was at the festival, and this was my one exception to my aforementioned rule. Mikey’s is a popular Columbus choice for the traditional, hand tossed pizza pie, and has become one of the “cool places to eat” among local foodies. They operate a food truck and they have their own brick & mortar shop, but until the fest, I didn’t realize that they have a permanent “café” at Columbus Commons as well (as does Jeni’s Ice Cream).
I ordered a Pepperoni slice ($3.00) and covered it with a few dashes of their infamous “Slut Sauce”. Nobody knows what’s in the sauce, because as Mikey’s claims, “You don’t want to know”. Whatever it is, it’s tasty. The pizza slice was big and filling. The crust was chewy and soft, the sauce was zesty, and the cheese was good and evenly distributed. The pepperoni was excellent, and I liked the pizza seasoning they added to the top of the pie. Really good pie.
Finally, I wanted to end my trip with something sweet, and there were several trucks and carts which offered dessert options. I settled on Gigi’s Cupcakes. They had several varieties of single cupcakes to choose from, as well as a mini four pack, and gourmet cookie sandwiches.
I ordered the Chocolate Salted Caramel cupcake ($3.50), which came in a “gift wrapped” cupcake box. It consisted of a dark chocolate cupcake which was unbelievably moist and rich. There was a gooey, chocolate syrup-type center that added another level of deliciousness. It had a fluffy caramel frosting, and a dollop of extra chocolate on top. They capped it off with a sprinkle of sea salt. Simply awesome.
There were so many more carts & trucks that I would have loved to have tried…the buffalo chicken wrap at The Local Munch Box, the Italian Stallion Sandwich at Kenny’s Meat Wagon, the fried shrimp or beer-battered fish & chips at Boston Bert’s Seafood, and the list goes on and on. But my stomach had had all it could take at that point…and there’s always next year. BTW, congrats to all of the winners in the “Best of” competition!!.