Clintonville, the suburban-not-quite-a-suburb, has long been the oasis for left-leaning Columbus residents looking to escape a bit of the city’s trappings but without completely losing the benefits of being an urban dweller. It’s hard not to be drawn to a walkable area where you can actually enjoy a farmers market AND a backyard.
So it stands to reason that the area—with its little burgs, bars, and parking lots—would become the landing ground for many of the finest units in the city’s mobile food movement.
In a four-mile box with Indianola Avenue and High Street as borders, there is an unexpected variety and volume of mobile food offerings. How did this small district get such a high density of street food? First, let’s be honest: this area of town has no shortage of hippies and hipsters, groups that have a predisposition to eat out of the box. Second, look at any restaurant in Clintonville that has decent food and adequate (or less than adequate) parking, and you will see no shortage of foot traffic. (In case you don’t live in the area some successful food businesses have had been limited to less than capacity due to more seats than parking spaces.)
Wildflower Cafe and Beechwold Diner on Indianola are both frequently bursting at the seams with customers and at capacity for parking. There is still a shortage of restaurant options in the community, and that is where mobile food meets a need.
First, I’m taking a bit of license and annexing a small chunk of Old North Columbus for my mobile food zone and stretching a few hundred yards into what I call Baja Clintonville, but we are adding two of the best mobile vendors in town to this list. With honorable mention to The Coop (now retired, but still revered) we start our journey in Old North Columbus a de facto Baja Clintonville, where diners can find two tasty options: El Manantial Latino aka Exotic Latin Grill is located at the 14-0 Convenience store at Indianola and Hudson. This mobile food veteran dishes out exceptional Central American fare. A few blocks over, the venerable Ray Ray’s Hog Pit serves some of the best barbeque in the city. Jamie “Ray Ray” Anderson holds court in the parking lot of Ace of Cups on High Street just north of Hudson. In between these two spots is Rambling House, which often sports a food truck on the weekends.
At Weber and Indianola, Taste of Greece Gyros has been a standby for the area for years and returned this past spring. Continuing along Indianola, La Poblanita is the new chica on the block (at Indianola and Blenheim Road) across from Marzetti plant. This small little trailer offers taco truck basics as well as sumptuous shrimp and pork chop dishes. Mobile food veteran Boston Berts is just a few blocks north at Indianola and Blenheim, serving seafood and other East Coast-styled comfort food to workers at the Marzetti plant across the street, as well as neighbors down the block. Ride along the hilly pavement of Cooke Road toward High Street on most Thursdays to find Schmidt’s Sausage truck on in front of Crimson Cup (High and West Weisheimer Road). About 50 feet diagonally across the street, several food trucks have tried out the front of Robbie’s Hobbies at High and East Weisheimer, most recently Timmy’s Meltdown (a grilled cheese truck). And popping back up to Indianola, the former Yerba Buena Trailer was resurrected and renamed to La Morelina by a Mexican couple new to the mobile food world. They serve mainstream tacos to the masses.
That is a lot of variety on wheels in a small area. Check it out and see how many you can visit in one day as you create your own mobile food buffet.
Ray Rays Hog Pit (Ace of Cups)
2619 N High St.
El Manantial Latino Exotic Latino Grill (14–0 Carry Out)
355 E Hudson St.
Taste of Greece Gyros
2991 Indianola Ave.
3825 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH 43214
(Parking lot of Beechwold Barbershop)
Corner of Blenheim and Indianola (across Marzetti plant)
Boston Berts (Sunoco)
3867 Indianola Ave.
4490 Indianola Ave.
Schmidts Sausage Truck
(frequently on Thursdays)
4541 N High St.
4578 N High St.