Back when ComFest meant fun, music, beer, shopping, a crap-ton more beer and food — in that order — I used to anticipate a woozy, one-too-many waltz along Goodale Avenue in which I would shamelessly gorge myself on foods hard to pronounce without giggling (even when sober): I’m laughing at you funnel cakes, corn dogs and fried cheese-on-a-stick. See, in those days, goofy state fair-type grub (which you’ll still find on Goodale this weekend) was pretty much all you could expect at ComFest — or any other festival.
As the American dining scene began evolving, though, the new trends were reflected in improved ComFest concessions. The 2012 chapter of America’s largest independent and volunteer-run festival continues to broaden its grazing options.
Here are some of ComFest’s best local vittles (spread over five designated areas) sitting in my munching-crosshairs. Naturally I’m not suggesting you still won’t catch me wobbling back from Goodale Avenue gnawing on one of those enormous smoked turkey legs — and later waving its gnarly remains (out of time with the beat) as my old pals in Scrawl play (I happen to know Marcy Mays loves those baseball-batty poultry snacks).
• Peace Village Buffet (near Buttles and Dennison) The highlight here — and frankly throughout the entire festival — is The Coop, i.e. the best, best-valued and cheffiest food truck in Columbus. Hungry munchers should target the incomparable yak burger (lean bison-y meat enriched with cheese, an egg, mayo and more), but there’s also black bean hummus, an Indian five-spice cucumber salad, chicken leg romesco and The Coop’s mandatory handmade baklava.
• Bozo Eats (by the main stage) There are a lot of solid offerings here, from Pattycake’s vegan treats (for the full ComFest immersion, try a hippie-fied and virtuously health-packed yet good tasting if sometimes dry hemp and flax “cookie”) to Mikey’s Late Night Slice’s punky pizza (dig that greasy Spicy Ass Pepperoni) to Earth’s Crust fragile if decent vegan pizzas to Jeni’s ice cream (recommendation: everything).
• Mid Park Food (on Park Street) Terrific local stuff abounds here, from celebrated ComFest classics like Queen’s Table (Fish Boat!) and Whole World (Broccoli Burger!) to newer stalwarts such as Lavash Cafe (lamb sandwiches and kebabs), Nida’s Sushi (lighten up with sushi or a seaweed salad, or carb up with Pad Thai) and wonderful Pam’s Popcorn (love her shouldn’t-work-but-man-does-it cheese and caramel mix), plus another Jeni’s cart.
• Jazz Cap Food (near the jazz stage, duh) Other than a ComFest golden oldie — Smokin’ Joe’s Ribs — and a third Jeni’s cart, this area has slim pickins.
• Gazebo Food (self-explanatory) This area offers the slimmest of pickins. Still, if you find yourself overheating during the ComFest proceedings (count on this), try nibbling on a Manna frozen chocolate banana or some iced watermelon cubes from COVA. Hell, you might even try dropping a few down your shorts.