Inside look: Food Truck Festival at Columbus Commons

Anthony Dominic, Crave

If the Columbus Food Truck Festival is any indication, the Central Ohio food truck scene shows no signs of slowing. In 2011, the festival was a modest gathering of 20 trucks; this year, it will feature 65 local and regional vendors and more than a dozen musical acts over three days (Aug. 14 to 16) at the Columbus Commons, as well as the adjacent parking lot at the corner of Third and Rich streets dubbed Area 5. The festival has become the largest of its kind in the Midwest, says co-organizer Mike Gallicchio, expected to host between 50,000 and 65,000 people this year. This is why a third day was added, says co-organizer Charles Kaplan, along with a larger emphasis on local crafter stands (think Homage and Red Giraffe Designs) and music (with guests such as The Deeptones, Lesly James of CD102.5 and Angela Persley & The Howlin' Moons). The festival runs noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 14 and 15 at the Columbus Commons, and noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 16 in the adjacent parking lot, with free entry every day. Here, Kaplan and Gallicchio call out their five favorite vendors this year.


"These guys are new to the food truck scene doing Korean barbecue, which is really popular right now," Kaplan says. "They serve everything out of cups with noodles and rice and layer each level of ingredients-veggies, kimchi, pork and chicken."


This festival staple is an extension of the Upper Arlington restaurant know for serving Chicago-style sammies such as Italian Beef. "Their gyros and salads are always crowd-pleasers," Kaplan says.

Hot Chicken Takeover

Since opening his wildly popular pop-up in Olde Towne East last year, Joe DeLoss' Nashville-inspired fried chicken concept has since moved into a permanent home in the North Market and added a mobile kitchen. "Hot Chicken is great because you can customize the chicken's spiciness," Kaplan says. "We've also recruited them to cater our private VIP party."

Buckeye Donuts

After 46 years in business, Buckeye Donuts went mobile this spring. At the festival, third-generation owner Jimmy Barouxis and his team will be slinging gyros, tater tots, French fries and, of course, doughnuts. "For a lot of people, the festival will be their introduction to the Buckeye Donuts truck, which we're really excited about," Kaplan says.


This Reynoldsburg-based truck serves a slew of barbecue sandwiches and a dozen flavors of original ice cream. "Their sandwiches are absolutely ginormous and come in brisket, pork and chicken varieties," Kaplan says. "We think people will be excited about having another dessert option, too."

Beat the Lines

This year, festival-goers can try a little of everything, minus the wait, by ordering from sampler menus available at select vendors. For a set price, diners receive multiple items from various trucks, without having to visit each individually. One, for example, will feature brown sugar pineapple jerky from Katie's Beef Jerky, barbecue tacos from Holy Smoke BBQ, nachos from Dos Hermanos Taco Truck, jerk fries from Big Bamboo's Dockside Grill and a pulled pork sub from the Market District Foodie Truck, Kaplan says.