It's hard to believe that this whole food truck craze is only two years old. It was 2010 when Chris Hodgson rolled his crazy Dim and Den Sum rig into our town and into our hearts, launching a bona fide movement in the process. By our latest guesstimation, there are nearly two dozen rigs circling C-Town, eager to feed us wherever we may be. Here's where the best reliable action can be found.
AN EASY NUT TO CRACK
One of the easiest ways to track down trucks is to visit Walnut Avenue on Wednesdays.
Launched last summer by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and the NineTwelve District, Walnut Wednesdays is a weekly food-truck roundup that turns sleepy Walnut Avenue into a mini street festival.
"Last year went gangbusters," reports Gina Morris of the DCA. Average weekly attendance hovered in the 1,000 range. But that's nothing compared to this year, with weekly numbers approaching 1,800 in the first weeks of action. "It's already looking like the figures will be doubled this year."
Also increasing this year is the number of trucks — up from 5 to 7 last year to a consistent 10 this spring. By moving down the street, closer to East 12th as opposed to East 9th, diners can take advantage of the newly renovated Perk Plaza, which offers seating on the grass or at tables and benches. Live music provides a groovy backdrop.
Walnut Wednesdays runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday through September 19.
EAT WITH THE ARTS
Last year, the popular Cleveland Beats & Eats events switched locales from Mall C (now home to the emerging Medical Mart) to Public Square. Held on Tuesdays in August and September, the weekly lunchtime festival celebrates summer in Cleveland through food, music, and art.
"We had an excellent response last year," says David Gallagher, special events manager for the mayor's office. "It's a great venue for people to stop by during lunchtime to enjoy the city, the arts, local food, and local music."
Visit the northwest quadrant of Public Square between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and you should have your choice of food from 8 to 10 trucks. Beats & Eats is about more than just food, says Gallagher: Local bands will provide entertainment, local artists will sell their wares, and weekly giveaways are an added bonus.
ANY OTHER NAME
The C-Town Chowdown, held in Tremont's Lincoln Park last year, attracted more than 1,000 hungry attendees. Since then, the event has changed locations more than Rush Limbaugh changes wives. Not only that, says founder Jae Stulock of Umami Moto, the Chowdown brand is losing its significance.
"The 'Chowdown' name has become diluted," he says. "It is being used too widely — everything these days is a chowdown."
So the name has been shelved in favor of Monthly Meet-ups at the Hipp. Located at the Cleveland Agora, the Hipp is the restaurant Stulock runs in addition to his rig. These monthly events begin at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Cocktails and beer will be sold inside, and music will be performed inside or out, weather permitting.
The next meet-up is set for this Saturday, June 16; the current lineup includes Umami Moto, Fired Up Tacos, Jibaro, Seti's Polish Boys, and Sweet! Mobile Cupcakery. You'll find them at 5000 Euclid Ave.
MIDTOWN ON THE MOVE
An ongoing strike at the American Red Cross has mandated a move for the weekly MidTown Chow Down.
Happily, a new location has been found. You'll find a few trucks parked at Prospect Park, at Prospect and East 46th Street, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Thursday throughout the summer.
In less than two years' time, Cleveland's streets have filled with food trucks: more than 20 and growing at last count. Here are some of the ones you are likely to spot.
Angie's Soul Café
The mobile link in this popular group of soul-food and Southern restaurants, Angie's dishes up catfish, cobbler, and other soulful treats.
How to find them:
On Facebook : Angie's Soul Café
Cracked Mobile Foods
"Changing the way people think about breakfast" is Cracked's aim; their arsenal is based upon thick breakfast sammies made with various plush combos of eggs, cheese, meat, and assorted sweet and savory garnishes.
How to find them:
Dim and Den Sum
Comfort food with an Asian twist is the speciality at Cleveland's original food truck; local ingredients are their passion. Currently, the rig is off the road; catering only, please.
How to find them: