Columbus, OH: Food Truck Hubs & Best New Food Trucks Of 2012

By Carrie Schedler & Shelly Mann | Columbus Monthly

Dinnin' Hall - Tessa Berg Photos
Dinnin’ Hall – Tessa Berg Photos

When food trucks serving Korean pancakes, pierogi and hand-butchered pork sandwiches all open in the same city (ours!) within months of each other, something remarkable is happening.

Food trucks themselves are nothing new. But in 2012, chefs with serious culinary credentials decided to step inside cramped mobile kitchens, taking their skills to the streets.

And, luckily for you, they’re now easier than ever to find. Regular food truck pods, gatherings of some of the city’s finest mobile eats, popped up all over the city this year, from Grandview’s Zauber Brewing Co. to the Columbus Commons. Pioneered by food-truck trendsetters in Portland, pods bring a critical mass of trucks to one location and can draw sizable (and profitable) crowds to neglected corners of the city.

And for nervous toe-dippers into the truck scene, this year gave us Dinin’ Hall, the months-old truck canteen in Franklinton dreamed up by Tim Lai and Eliza Ho.

The concept is simple: a couple trucks park outside the space at lunchtime. Patrons order their food at the truck and pay at a cash register inside, and are then free to enjoy their meals at real tables and chairs.

Patrons see it a safe space to try out new cuisines, ask questions, and indulge their gastronomic curiosities, Ho says.

“Customers like that they get to have interaction with the chef,” she says. “They can ask what ingredients they use or where they’re from. They love the educational component.”

—Carrie Schedler

DININ’ HALL Head to the 400 West Rich art studios in Franklinton between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays, and you’ll find two or three trucks—regulars include standouts Swoop!, That Food Truck and Ajumama—set up outside. Place your order and dine in the shelter of the minimal-chic garage set up with tables and chairs.

400 W. Rich St., Franklinton,

FOOD PODS Congregations of food trucks make street food more accessible. This past year saw the rise of monthly themed festivals (Burger Wars, anyone?) at Zauber Brewing Co. in Grandview. Food Fort hosted a weekly food pod on Thursday evenings at the Charity Newsies headquarters in Clintonville, and the Thursday lunchtime Food Truck Food Court at the Columbus Commons was a hit all summer long. 


Best New Food Trucks Of 2012

With a head-turning truck tagged with anime-inspired anthropomorphic food characters, That Food Truck is the sexiest addition to the scene. Sandwiches are stellar across the board; think chicken confit topped with a black mole sauce and house queso fresco, or roasted pork and ham with an amazing poblano harissa sauce.

Meanwhile, Swoop! Food Truck specializes in scratch-made (and slow-cooked) comfort foods. They make their own lamb bacon, for instance, and their tater tots have developed a devoted following. Go for the sliders, especially if they’re offering the glazed beef short rib slathered in horseradish cream.

—Shelley Mann