Thursday, September 1, 2011

Food Truck Food Court Takes over Columbia...again.

Yesterday, Cromer's played host to the second Food Truck Food Court (FTFC) to hit Columbia.  I attended the inaugural event, and you can read about it here. I had a great time, so there wasn't any doubt in my mind that I would go to the second event.

So here's the rundown, before we get to one of the best lunches I've ever experienced in Columbia:

Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time.  This was a bit of an issue the first time around as well.  While I realize that there are larger than normal crowds, people don't have an unlimited amount of time to wait. My wait was much shorter than it was the first time around, but it still took close on 40 minutes from the time my order was taken until I got my food.  The food is definitely worth the wait, but if I waited on food for 40 minutes when I was in a restaurant, I'd say something.   And before anyone jumps on me about being impatient and not taking into account the large crowds, just know that I had the time to wait, but not everyone did.  I don't know what causes the backup - and yes, I realize that it takes time to cook the food...if I wanted something that didn't require a wait, I'd go to Wendy's.  But the average person in Columbia only has an hour for lunch.  And that includes driving time, parking, walking, waiting, and eating.  I'm just saying that it might be something that our beloved food truck owners might want to look into.  There has to be a way to streamline the process, but I'm not quite sure what it is.  Maybe it just involves having a few more events like this one.

Cromer's stepped it up this time.  The added tents were a huge plus this time around.  It wasn't nearly as hot as last month, but standing in the sun for an extended period of time still makes you feel gross.  It was nice to have some shade.  I'm sure other people really enjoyed the Sno-Cones as a way to cool down too (I didn't have one because sno-cones are way to sweet for me).  Nice job to the Cromer's crew.  I really hope y'all continue to host this event.

FTFC runs from noon until 3.  But when I got there at 11:45, it was already packed.  I'm sure this contributed to the wait.  Perhaps the good people of Columbia could stagger their arrival times?  By the time I left, it was a little less crowded, but I don't know how much food was left.  Last time, some of the trucks ran out of some of their items, so I imagine that's why people came early.

You have your pick of 4 food trucks. Bone-In BBQ, Pawley's Front Porch, 2 Fat 2 Fly Wings, and Alfresco Mobilista, more affectionately known as Alf Mob.

Onto the food!  I met M at Cromer's around 11:45, with the thought that we could beat the crowds.  Apparently everyone else in Columbia had the same though.  No worries.  We both had plenty of time, so we weren't too concerned about the lines.  M was dying to try the mac & cheese wings from 2Fat2Fly, so she headed to their line.  She ended up getting the lunch special - 2 jambalaya wings and 2 mac & cheese wings with fries.  I had the jambalaya wings last time, so I can attest to how good they are.  The mac & cheese wings are pretty well known around town, so I'd expect them to be pretty tasty.  M was definitely a fan. She also really liked the way that the fries were seasoned.
Jambalaya wings on the left, mac & cheese on the right.
This is what the inside of a stuffed chicken wing looks like.

I had my heart set on trying Alf Mob.  I've been voting for them daily to get a spot on The Great Food Truck Race, and in doing so, I've checked out their menu.  That, plus all of the people on my Twitter feed who sing Alf Mob's praises, convinced me that I absolutely had to try them out.  So I hopped right into their line.  While they were still setting things up, one of their staff came out into the line and started taking orders. Right on.  I was about halfway through the line, which was good since I had no idea what to order from the menu. I finally settled on the Chicken Meatball Gyro, not surprising, given my love of street gyros.  You can get a side with each menu item, but be warned, you'll pay extra.  I ordered the pasta salad with mine (thanks again, to a recommendation on my Twitter feed).

Y'all.  I really think you'd be hard pressed to find a more delicious, more filling lunch anywhere in Columbia. The meatballs on the gyro had cheese on the inside and were then fried in panko breadcrumbs.  The bottom of the pita was covered with spectacularly good homemade slaw.  Everything was topped with a chili bbq sauce.  It was a good size, it was messy, and it was so good that I'll have a hard time trying anything else on the menu, because this is the only thing I want to eat.  And then there was the pasta salad.  This is not your basic, "Italian-dressing with some hint of veggies and a lot of pasta" pasta salad.  This was little tiny shells in pesto with chunks of zucchini, tomatoes, and corn.  I could have just eaten the pasta salad and been perfectly happy.  This is probably the best pasta salad I've ever had...and I eat a lot of pasta salad.
Doesn't this look awesome?
I'm sure that Cromer's will be hosting another FTFC soon (at least I hope they do!), but until then you can check out all of Columbia's fabulous trucks at Columbia Food Truck Rodeo.  The event will be on Friday, September 23 from 4 -11p.m. at City Roots.  I'm pretty sure I'll be there....and I'll have to try Pawley's this time around.  Though it will be insanely difficult not to drift towards Alf Mob and their awesome pasta salad.

Final Rating (for Alf Mob)

Alfresco Mobilista on Urbanspoon


  1. I am just sick that I couldn't make it to this one. So glad to hear your review of the event. That gyro does indeed sound intriguing! Lunch sometime..if not before the Rodeo, we'll definitely have to hook up there. :-)

  2. Most definitely. Anywhere close to downtown is good for me, as it's hard for me to get away from work for too long. And it's going to need to be in a couple weeks....too much going on right now. But I'm 99% sure I'll be at the Rodeo, so I'll definitely see you then.