Columbia supports an ever-growing assortment of food trucks, such as Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, Grill-A-Brothers Sandwiches and Lily’s Cantina. Many owners and operators come straight out of Columbia’s best kitchens. Each truck is active on social media, letting fans know where to find them each day of the week.
“Our food trucks put the same emphasis on fresh, local ingredients as do our restaurants. Produce from nearby farms and meats from area purveyors make Columbia’s food trucks a step above,” said Megan McConachie, marketing and communications manager for Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
During warmer months, Food Truck Fridays take place at Lucky’s Market on Providence Road, one of Columbia’s main thoroughfares. Offerings include mouthwatering biscuit creations, Baja Midwest fusion, pizza, grilled cheese and Hawaiian shaved ice. The trucks also attend festivals and special events throughout the year.
“For groups, we’ve worked with Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, but it’s likely that other trucks would be happy to make similar arrangements,” said McConachie. “Groups can arrange exclusive events and pay the entire tab, or use a convenient voucher system that gives each person a specific meal or dollar amount from the truck.”
In recent years, the food truck scene has skyrocketed in Oklahoma City. In downtown’s Myriad Botanical Gardens, groups can attend a number of events and nosh at the food trucks lined up around the 17-acre garden. Venues such as the Bleu Garten offer a permanent food truck location where food trucks can be hired as independent contractors to serve customers, and groups will find shaded seating, misters, heaters, music and theater entertainment.
“The Bleu Garten is a unique, outdoor dining experience unlike anywhere else in Oklahoma,” said Tabbi Burwell, communications manager at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a fun atmosphere where people enjoy watching Thunder games, and they also have activities such as a corn toss and a giant Jenga game.”
A new annual event called the H&8th Night Market will be held on June 3. It began as the world’s largest monthly food truck festival, attracting 45,000 attendees and 50 food trucks each month. In 2016, it will be paired with the Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic bike race for both the amateur and elite cyclist. The race will take place in three different districts of the city, June 3-5.
“Food trucks have a presence at many visitor attractions and almost every outdoor event,” said Burwell. “If a group wants to host an event and forgo a traditional plated meal or buffet, our food trucks are a great alternative.”
Top trucks include Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, Roxy’s Ice Cream, Kaiteki Ramen and Taste of Soul Egg Roll. Visitors and locals alike can find out the latest information at TruckIt OKC, the city’s popular phone app that locates food trucks.
For the ultimate mobile buffet, Columbus Food Adventures offers several tours. The Food Truck Tour visits a broad mix of five favorites, including barbecue, fried chicken and Korean dishes. And nobody knows Columbus’s expansive taco truck scene better than this company. Each stop on their Taco Truck Food Tour includes a tasting and emphasizes individual truck specialties and regional cuisine.
“It’s one of the best ways to learn about authentic Mexican and other ethnic foods in Columbus, which has a very substantial Latino population,” said Beth Ervin, Experience Columbus’ director of communications. “We sampled food and drink from five trucks and learned all about the different dishes and regional specialties, plus we visited an authentic Mexican Market.”
For an even bigger food extravaganza, the annual Columbus Food Truck Festival celebrates Ohio’s cuisine at the Columbus Commons in downtown. The three-day event, held in August, features more than 70 of the city’s best food trucks, accompanied by live music, vendors selling handmade arts and crafts, and numerous activities. Popular local trucks include Mixing Bowl, which features wildly creative Asian-fusion bowls, and Pitabilities, which serves Mediterranean-American fusion cuisine wrapped in a pita.
Ohio’s Hocking Hills
Pairing an activity with an on-site food truck allows groups to make a day of visiting unique destinations that might not have food service on-site. Southeast of Columbus, the Hocking Hills region appeals to groups looking for outdoor adventure or off-the-beaten-path attractions.
“We had Chef Moe on the Go food truck come out and serve lunch after a group visited the Hocking Hills Canopy Tour zip line, and she fed our group at Hocking Hills Winery,” said Karen Raymore, Hocking Hills Tourism Association executive director. “Another great spot to bring in a food truck is at the Columbus Washboard Factory, located in downtown Logan. It’s the last factory of its kind in America, and they offer a wonderful factory tour that will appeal to history buffs that includes playing in a washboard band. The factory owner hails from Great Britain. In the gift shop, he sells European imports such as butter from Ireland, terrific English soaps and small gifts that you can’t buy anyplace else in the U.S.”