Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Columbus Food Adventures Taco Truck Tour

Photos by OHventures

When I received a message from renowned food blogger and ultra foodie, Bethia Woolf, inviting me and a friend to join her on a complimentary tour through her business, Columbus Food Adventures, my mouth immediately started watering. Everything that I knew about Columbus Food Adventures had piqued my interest, and I had been itching to sign up. The concept is simple yet brilliant: Food lovers hungry for adventure are taken on an exclusive tour, either on foot or aboard a conversion van, to various parts of the city to discover the most exquisite, unique and authentic cuisines Columbus has to offer.

The tours are approximately $60 a person and last about 3 hours, visiting around 6 different restaurants, food trucks, or food providers along the way. There are various tours that are categorized either by region or by cuisine: Short North Tour, German Village Tour, Alt Eats Tour, Meat Lovers Tour, All Dessert Tour, Coffee Tour, and the tour I had the chance to be a part of, the Taco Trucks Tour.

The price tag for a food tour totally fits and is certainly worth it, for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is that you are being exposed to a myriad of culinary hotspots that you might have trouble finding on your own. Combine that with the expertisse that Bethia and her business partner Andy bring to the table when giving presentations at each location, and you have yourself a one-of-a-kind lesson in all things yummy in the capital!

Another reason this is a great bang for your buck is that you are receiving samples of various foods from a number of places that might not provide you with that exact portion on a regular visit. Also, the convenience factor of having someone drive you around, order for you, and plan everything for you is almost priceless!
Aside from that, the pure fun factor that comes with a Columbus Food Adventure is off the charts. You can meet new people (those on the tour with you and those at the restaurants), share lots of laughs, and learn a ton all while stuffing your face!

For my Taco Truck Tour, which took place on a Sunday afternoon at 4 PM, a full group of 15 hungry adventurers hopped in the van and started our tasty trip. We learned that there are over 40 taco trucks in the Columbus metro area (ay carumba!), with a nice concentration on the West side, which is where the tour would take place. We were told that researchers in New York determined that Columbus is the best place East of the Mississippi for tacos, a fact that astounded the entire group! This remarkable fact is apparently due to the large Hispanic population in the area, and perhaps due to the rules in the area that allow for food trucks to exist. While taco trucks are obviously mobile, they primarily stay in one location, as they typically rent space within a parking lot of a local business. To keep track of all of the trucks, however, Bethia and Andy also started a website dedicated to mapping out where they are at all times: www.tacotruckscolumbus.com!

Our first stop was a tiny taco truck on West Broad Street called "La Popular," where we had our only legitimate taco on the tour (we would have other Mexican dishes at the rest of the trucks). Here, we had an authentic chorizo taco with a side of radishes and cucumbers (pictured above). I came to find that these refreshing vegetables on the side were at each of the taco trucks, and that is because that is what truly traditional Mexican eateries will serve on the side (rather than the typical tomatoes and bell peppers one would expect at an American Mexican restaurant).

After the tease we had at the first taco truck, it was off to the second stop, Taqueria Little Mexico, which is the oldest taco truck in the city (established in 2001). We had a gordita that we washed down with horchata (pictured above), a rice-based milk-like cinnamon drink that is extremely popular in Mexico. As Bethia said, it reminds you a bit of the milk in your cereal bowl after eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Fantastic.

My personal favorite stop was Los Guachos Taqueria, where we got to enjoy pork gringas (flour tortillas, pinapple, smoked mozzarella, pork el pastor). The pork for the gringas was shaved right off of a vertical spit right before our eyes (pictured above), and we found out that this place was named one of the top four in the United States! Tasting these delicious morsels, I could see why! I love this place so much that I am planning to return with coworkers in the near future!

The second half of the Taco Truck Tour wrapped up with a tasty Mexican pizza-like treat called a tlyuda(pictured above) at Tres Reyes (where we also enjoyed guava agua fresca), a sorbet dessert at Las Delicias, and a final stop where we were able to shop and peruse the aisles of a Mexican grocery store where most of the taco trucks get their food (I purchased some Mexican beer, prickly pears, and jicama).

As the event wrapped up, my stomach was satisfied with loads of taco truck treats. Pacing ourselves throughout the tour made it so I was not grossly full of food. It was a perfect eating experience I would recommend to any food lover (and who isn't?). Taking a food tour with Columbus Food Adventures is so good, it's getting added to the Buckeye Bucket List, and I definitely intend to try another tour, using my "Passport" punch card!

Many thanks to Bethia and Andy for revealing what the truly great food is in Columbus!

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