Food trucks and bars: Tokyo GoGo at Brothers Drake Meadery
The Truck: Tokyo GoGo
Hours: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
This all-aces wheeled overachiever is womaned by ultra-talented Miki, who grew up in a restaurant business family in Tokyo before moving to the United States at age 14. Married to a co-owner of Brothers Drake Meadery and armed with a food service degree from Columbus State, Miki makes some of the best casual Japanese food in the area. On her easy-to-love musts list are ($3-$6): transcendent, veggie-fied miso soup; revelatory homemade gyoza dumplings; and ridiculously tender, crispy and sesame oil-scented fried chicken strips (karaage). Bonus: GoGo co-heads the most integrated and user-friendly truck+bar operation in town. This means customers can order their grub at the Brothers Drake bar, have it brought to their (tiny) table and later deal with a single check - you know, like an actual restaurant. Protip: Look for spectacular, gonna-crave-it-everyday-now, Osaka-style "pressed-sushi" specials ($8).
The Bar: Brothers Drake Meadery
26 E. Fifth Ave., Short North
Locally sourced "honey wine" is fashioned in the back of this handsome and smartly streamlined space, which resembles a mod and artsy garage with repurposed wood, a little patio, an eye-catching and ergonomically designed bar, plus an elegant and rustic stage where a wide range of mostly Americana-ish bands play. Mentoring a beautiful people crowd - and grinning thugs like me - through the GoGo menu/ordering routine as well as explaining their own unusual, mead-spiked cocktails (there are also craft beers and more conventionally hooched quaffs) is an above-and-beyond helpful and friendly crew. Protips: Of the $2 off HH cocktails, try the zippy Wild Sweet Annie (think spiked ginger ale) or the often-flavor-changing Corner Punch fruit bomb.