Preview: Columbus Food Truck & Cart Fest

From the 08/25/2011 edition

It's crazy, when you think about it, how swiftly the food truck craze took hold in Columbus. Over the past year or so, we went from street-meat gyros to inspired Japanese crepes.

Friday's Columbus Food Truck & Cart Fest at Columbus Commons will be a great opportunity to sample foods from the always growing street food scene. Here are five vendors you don't want to miss.

Junior ' s Tacos

About the truck: Taco trucks are kind of like the grandparents of the food-truck craze, so a taco is a must. This truck's big but fairly bare-bones. The white exterior hides a small kitchen where the friendly owners cook traditional Mexican fare (including tamales!) to order.

About the food: Stick with the specialty, the tacos. These are standard, Mexican-style street food tacos. Expect double-stacked corn tortillas filled with your choice of meat (chorizo is excellent) and topped with the traditional chopped onions and cilantro.

Munch Bo x

About the truck: This new truck is great for two reasons. One, they serve comparatively healthy dishes filled with veggies. Two, they have an awesome, slightly scandalous T-shirt involving a play on the word "munch." You'll spot the shirt's distinctive green hue from across the park.

About the food: Try one of the creative flatbreads made, like everything on the menu, with all organic ingredients. A veggie pesto flatbread topped with chopped tomatoes, squash and spinach is tasty. Even better is the Steak - poblano-cilantro pesto is topped with braised beef and a neat brussels sprout slaw.

The Cheesy Truck

About the truck: The Cheesy Truck guys went all out with their van. It's painted black and emblazoned with a brightly colored pattern that includes, if you look closely, hunks of cheese, slices of bread, spatulas and the state of Ohio licking its lips.

About the food: This truck specializes in artisan grilled cheese sandwiches. They all have fun names, like the fried-egg-topped Vegas Strip (because it's good 24/7), or the Cincy chili-topped Mt. Adams. When it comes to melted cheese, though, simple works. Go with the Modfather - English Cotswold cheese and bacon on sourdough.

Ray Ray's Hog Pit

About the truck: Jamie Anderson is the recognizable, long-bearded pitmaster behind this truck, where you'll find some of the city's very best barbecue. His massive setup boasts a smoker tacked onto the side.

About the food: Try a half-rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs. Or a Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich topped with cole slaw. Or a beef brisket sandwich served with Anderson's own homemade barbecue sauce. It's all good.

Short North Bagel Deli

About the truck: One of the newest additions to the city's street food scene is making steamed bagel sandwiches, a comfort-food creation invented on Midwestern college campuses. This cart is just big enough to house a couple of steamers.

About the food: Steamed bagel sandwiches are exactly what they sound like: your choice of meats, veggies and cheeses piled on a sliced bagel and then steamed until everything's hot and gooey. The Good Ole Goodale is a best-seller: thin-sliced turkey, cream cheese, Colby cheese, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts and honey mustard.