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Keepin' It Wheel

Find the food truck action and do it right

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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.

CHOW BY

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

@angiessoulcafe

angiessoulcafe.com

216-426-8890

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:

facebook.com/crackedcleveland

@crackedmobile

crackedcleveland.com

216-650-3839

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:

facebook.com/dimndensum

@DimAndDenSum

dimanddensum.com

216-246-1330

Elise's Crepes

Crepes both sweet and savory are the speciality of this Olmsted Falls-based food cart, operated by the fine folks from Olof's Daughter bakery.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Elise's Crepes

@ElisesCrepes

odpastry.com

440-346-1437

Fired Up Taco Truck

Originally the property of a Cleveland S.W.A.T unit, this custom-built kitchen on wheels dishes out an ever-changing assortment of inventive tacos and more.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Fired Up Taco Truck

@fireduptacos

fireduptacotruck.com

Hodge Podge

Like the truck's name says, the menu here is a hodgepodge of flavors and cuisines, based on whatever grabs the chef's fancy. Available for catering.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Hodge Podge Truck

@HodgePodgeTruck

hodgpodgetruck.com

216-246-1330

JiBaro Gourmet Food Truck

It's a Caribbean, Spanish, and Latin gourmet food truck with a menu filled with world-spice fusion.

How to find them:

On Facebook:

JiBARO Gourmet Food Truck

@JibaroWorldEats

worldwidejibaro.com

216-632-3043

Motor Mouth

Fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients inspire a menu that includes items like Thai chicken satay, chorizo tacos, and grilled shrimp po' boys.

How to find them:

On Facebook: MotorMouthFood

@MotorMouthFood

440-639-0263

The Nosh Box

Midwest comfort food rules the rig, with slow-roasted pork, Buffalo-chicken sliders, and the signature Double Wide: mac 'n' cheese with double-smoked apple bacon bits on Texas toast.

How to find them:

On Facebook: The Nosh Box

@TheNoshBox

thenoshbox.com

216-244-2169

Pranzo Forno!

Based in Willoughby, this food truck brings the heat with large wood-fired ovens, for freshly baked pizzas, ribs, and pepperoni breads, pronto! Catering is also available.

How to find them:

On Facebook:

Pranzo Forno! Wood Fired Catering

@pranzoforno

pranzoforno.com

216-526-5637

The Rolling Pig

Fresh out of Middlefield, the Rolling Pig is one of the newest additions to the region's food truck scene. Southern barbecue with an Ohio twist is how they describe the menu. That includes smoked pork, brisket, turkey, ribs, and their soon-to-be-famous BBQ-stuffed potato.

How to find them:

Facebook.com/TheRollingPig

@therollingpig

therollingpigbbq.com

440-983-1547

Seti's Polish Boys

One of Cleveland's favorite sammies — the overstuffed Polish boy — anchors the menu at this kitchen on wheels; celeb chef Michael Symon even shared the Seti's love on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Available for backyard catering and events.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Seti's Polish Boys

setispolishboys.biz

216-240-0745

Bonus: The truck is parked at Dean's Supply (3500 Woodland Ave.), during weekday lunch hours.

ShortRib1

Inventive eats (think jumbo shrimp tacos) from one of Cleveland's top toques: Rocco Whalen, chef-owner of Fahrenheit. Available for catering.

How to find them:

Facebook.com/shortrib1

@rock1chef

shortrib1.com

216-781-8858

Street Sensations

Cheesesteaks, gyros, subs, and fries are what you'll find on Gyro Bob's big white food truck.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Gyro Bob

@gyrobobs

StrEat Mobile Bistro

This big rig hauls a big load of locally sourced foods; faves include the peanut BBQ pulled-pork hoagie and truck-made chips.

How to find them:

facebook.com/strEatmobilebistro

@streatmobile

streatmobilebistro.com

216-570-8776

Sweet! Mobile Cupcakery

Owner Dave Southerington doles out freshly baked cupcakes from Babe the Big Blue Box (truck), in unique flavors like snickerdoodle, buckeye, fudgesicle, and more.

How to find them:

On Facebook:

Sweet! The Mobile Cupcakery

@mobilecupcakery

mobilecupcakery.com

440-465-7333

Touch Supper Truck

This brightly painted mobile kitchen serves up an ever-changing menu of gourmet tacos, sammies, and fries, along with the popular Korean burger garnished with pickled daikon and ginger.

How to find them:

facebook.com/touchsupperclub

@touchsupperclub

touchohiocity.com

216-22-TOUCH

Umami Moto

This popular food truck focuses on a mix of pan-Asian cuisines. Recent menus have included Vietnamese chicken curry, potstickers, and a Korean steak sammy.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Umami Moto

@UmamiMoto

umamimototruck.com

440-503-4146

Zydeco Bistro

This Wadsworth-based rig brings a taste of the Big Easy to NEO, with Southern faves like Crawfish Creole and Carolina Catfish.

How to find them:

On Facebook: Zydeco Bistro

@ZydecoBistro

zydecobistrollc.com

330-352-2762

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