Food Trucks for Families

Food trucks are a bit of an enigma in the suburbs. Where are they? Will I like what they have once I get there? I don't ever have cash. In conversations with my mom friends and coworkers, I knew we needed to dig a little deeper to help bring the world of food trucks to the families of Columbus who might be a little hesitant. 

Alice's ebelskivers 

I enlisted the help of Columbus food writer Renee Casteel Cook, co-author of The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook to help us navigate. Also contributing to my food truck knowledge,  Joe from The 614ortyniner Food Blog and Bethia Woolf of Columbus Food Adventures

Most of the trucks you've experienced at fairs, carnivals, and most local festivals are brought in from out of town rather than the local families who have started up here in Columbus. By doing a little research, you can support someone's dream right here in Cbus and feed your family something delicious. These owners are passionate about the food they've created and it is so much fun to read about their stories in Renee's book. 

I asked Renee how the food truck scene has changed in Columbus. 

The scene has literally exploded over the last five years going from 40 to 400 trucks!  From its infancy as late night food carts outside of bars, to now being the foundation of many summer festivals, and even catering for graduations and weddings, the quality of food and the options offered are much better and more diverse.

And why should families give them a try rather than just getting their favorite drive through?
Trucks are typically able to customize dishes and having a conversation with the person making your food can open you up to new experiences as well as provide a greater connection to the story behind the truck and its owner. 

You can find Renee this weekend, signing books at the Worthington Farmer's Market. Her book is a fun read, including interview's with notable Columbus' foodies, amazing recipes from the trucks, and an interesting glimpse of the food truck industry. If you'd like to win yourself a signed copy:

  1. Follow @LittleAdvCbus on Instagram and comment on the post AND/OR
  2. Comment on (and please share) this post on Facebook AND/OR
  3. Share this post on Twitter with a comment @LittleAdvCbus (so, you have 3 chances)
Food truck eating can have a few drawbacks, such as lines, seating, and everyone in the family wanting different trucks. But with a little patience and a few tips below, we hope you will have fun giving it a try!

1. First, install the Columbus Street Food Finder app on your phone. This tool is SO helpful in finding the trucks closest to you or tracking down the one you crave. 

2. Do a little research. Look up the menu and decide what you want ahead of time. I have my kids pick out two things, just in case one is unavailable. Even better, if you can find something that is shareable, that saves time in multiple lines. Often, their servings are generous. 

3. Take a second adult. Unless everyone in the family wants the same thing, it is a divide-and-conquer situation. Even better if the place you've chosen has activities to keep kids busy while they wait (Commons has the carousel and building toys).

4. Know where to find them in groups. Many food trucks gather on a regular basis in the same place, so you can hit up a few at a time. Here's where you can find regular food truck appearances (don't forget to check Street Food Finder to see which trucks will be there):

Columbus Food Truck Food Court
Columbus Commmons, Downtown
Columbus Commons has 10 trucks from 11-2 every Thursday.  Just note that you cannot buy drinks at the trucks, so bring your own or bring cash for the vending machine drinks. 

Livingston Ave, Columbus
Come to the RMH and experience a few different trucks every Friday this summer, with 10% of proceeds going to RMH

Westgate Farmers Market
West Broad Street
First and Third Summer Saturdays

Hilliard's Station Park
Every Thursday, 11-1. Two popular trucks serve lunch while the kids play in the fountains. 

Columbus Food Truck Festival
August 12-13
Columbus Commons
This event was voted Best Culinary Event of 2015! I would imagine lines would be very long, but if your kids are older or patient, it could be a great time to sample several of the trucks in one day.

Historic Dublin Business Association Street Bazaar
Old Dublin
September 3
I am blown away at the list of TEN food trucks that the HDBA has coming to the street bazaar. Many of our favorites will be there, along with artisans and activities. This is a great opportunity to try them in one setting! Keep checking their site, as they will be posting the food truck list soon.

The line at Pitabilites at the Commons. Get there early!

Our Picks

And here are some of our most kid-friendly food truck recommendations, based on personal experience, menu, and the most common "kid-friendly" foods. Your kids might like something totally different! And if you are a food truck who isn't listed, please let me know your menu items for kids.

Daredevil Dogs hot dogsTomas was kind enough to answer a few questions about this popular truck. Their hot dogs and sausages feature Ohio Proud meat, locally baked buns and house made toppings. 
There is a kids option (the ‘lil    devil' is $3), which is a standard size hot dog with a selection of free toppings including onions, celery, ketchup, yellow mustard, stadium mustard and mayo. Most kids will get it plain or with just ketchup (you can add most other toppings for free if desired)
We park every Wednesday night at the Bexley Coffee Shop and every Monday at Ritas Ice Cream on Henderson Rd. 

We are available for private parties as well. On weekends during the summer we are at a lot of local festivals like Comfest and Promowest Fest. Our full schedule for the week is posted on Facebook every Sunday and we regularly update our twitter as well. (photo via Daredevil Dogs)

Alice's AelbelskabelsIf you love pancakes filled and/or topped with chocolate, raspberry sauce, cheese, or just plain, you will absolutely love Alice's. This is our current family favorite.

    Cluck Wagon- Such delicious and fresh breakfast choices, often found at the Worthington Farmer's Market. We suggest the egg and cheese biscuit (pictured).

      My Place or YoursAmerican comfort food for breakfast and lunch. One of the few places with a kids' combo (including grilled cheese or hot dog). 

      Hot Chicken TakeoverThere is nothing like their hot chicken, which you can get seasoned "cold" for no spice, and double the mac to share. Or order kids' meals so no one has to share (kids meal pictured). 

      Mya's Fried Chicken- If you like predictability, you can find Mya's on the same Clintonville corner every Sunday to try their chicken and biscuit sandwich and baked mac and cheese.

      los Positanos taco truck- They have more than tacos (rice, beans, salads, platters) and a kids' meal.

      Pitabilities- This is a very popular spot at the Commons, so it must be good! For kids who like hummus and veggies/pita chips, this is a perfect spot. But we have our eyes on the cinnachips...

      AromakuIndonesian food with tasty noodles and chicken satay for your adventurous eaters.

      Timmy's MeltdownGrilled cheese for all! The ultimate portable food for the whole family, so you can keep walking or sitting in the stroller without a mess. 

      The Cheesy Truck- Similar to the above, only with more options, including mac and cheese, tots, and some really interesting sounding sandwiches that include BBQ, international cheeses, and even mac and cheese ON the sandwich!) 

      Tortilla Mexican Street Food- They have a permanent location at the Commons and a truck. Everything is made to order, they have a kids' special, and ground beef, which is hard to find at Mexican food trucks. (nachos pictured)

      Flat Top Pizza- They often park at Land Grant, so there is seating/facilities. You can also find a local emphasis on ingredients and refreshing soda floats.

      Alphabetical- Older kids will be into soups and salads, with many choices of toppings to customize it. 

      Sophie's Pierogies- If your kids' love pierogi, Sophie's offers a very simple menu with classic toppings (carmelized onions, sour cream, compound butter).

      Ray Ray's Hog Pit- As a kid, this would have been my first choice. If you have BBQ lovers in your family, they're going to love the ribs, pulled pork, and mac and cheese. 

      Oh! Burgers I love that they offer 2 oz. mini burgers. A full-size burger is too much, and when they come as a set of three, how perfect is that for sharing!? And the sweet potato chips. YUM.

      Kooky's cookies- After your lunch or dinner, you're going to need to finish off with a homemade cookie or cookie ice cream sandwich. 

      Kinetic- Fear not, there are definitely some healthy food truck options. Kinetic has bowls/wraps filled with power grains, veggies, and protein. Also, hummus dippers, smoothies, kids' chicken and rice bowls, and kids' chicken/cheese roll-ups. (muffin special and kids' chicken)

        Have you ever tried any of these?  There are so many amazing food trucks, many of them with food that I love, but not necessarily "kid-friendly". Check out my Instagram @LittleAdvCbus for my own food truck favorites, and don't forget to enter there or on Facebook for Renee's book giveaway. 


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