2016 Hot List

2016 Hot List

It’s my dining bucket list! This compilation contains some eateries that are brand-new and some fan favorites that I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t sampled yet. The thing I’m looking forward to the most about 2016 is discovering more Columbus cuisine and returning to the restaurants that I love.

Restaurants to Try

Salt & Pine:  http://saltandpine250.com
From ricotta gnudi to short ribs, every photo I’ve seen of the dishes here make my mouth water. Plus with Harvest Pizzeria as a sister restaurant, what could go wrong?

Krema:  http://www.krema.com
I’m obsessed with peanut butter anything, so I’m mystified that I haven’t made it to Krema before. With all kinds of peanut butter sandwiches and milkshakes too, this place sounds like my personal paradise.

Copious:  http://www.copiouscolumbus.com
This 2015 newcomer pops up on my radar constantly, so its menu must be pretty magical. Crab Dip? Duck Confit Risotto? Count me in.

Tai Tiki:  http://www.taitiki.com
Everything about Tai Tiki is tempting! They have seafood-heavy selections, and fruity, pineapple-garnished drinks. Who doesn’t want to be transported to the tropics in the dead of Ohio winter?

Kolache Republic:  http://kolacherepublic.com
The Czech bakery’s kolache are yeast dough pockets filled with sweet or savory goodies. I’m sure either kind will be divine.

Angry Bear Kitchen:  http://www.angrybearkitchen.com
Innovated dishes are the name of the game here, and I’m dying to check it out. Items like chicken-fried squash or grilled strawberry sauce sound wildly unique.

Sunflower Chinese Restaurant:  http://www.columbussunflower.com
I’m crazy for dim sum, so why haven’t I been here yet? This Dublin spot is touted as the best dim sum restaurant in town, and trying one of everything is the key to my heart.

Sweet Carrot:  http://sweetcarrotcolumbus.com
The beloved food truck turned brick-and-mortar in Grandview this year, and I’m intrigued by their offerings. Corn cakes and macaroni and cheese sound right up my alley.

Restaurants to Revisit

Here are some spots that I love, but that I’ve neglected lately. Each of these locations deserves a second or third visit, ASAP.

Guild House:  http://www.theguildhousecolumbus.com
I’ve enjoyed a remarkable happy hour at this beautiful Cameron Mitchell staple, but to gain a real appreciation for this spot, I need to come back for the full meal experience.

Denmark on High:  http://www.denmarkonhigh.com
It’s been far too long since I stopped back into Denmark, where my husband and I used to be regulars. The house-made cocktail components really shine through, and they serve up a mean charcuterie plate.

Charcuterie Plate from Denmark

Hounddog’s 3 Degree Pizza:  http://www.hounddogspizza.com
They know how to make a pie at this campus-area dive. Oh Smokin’ Joe’s crust, how I miss you. Can we get back together soon?

Veritas Tavern:  http://www.veritastavern.com
Every course I ate at Veritas Tavern this year blew my mind and the menu changes seasonally, so a return visit is definitely in order.

Veritas Tavern in Deleware

Lola and Giuseppe’s Trattoria:  http://www.lolas-italian.com
The teeny Gahanna gem is one of the best Italian spots in the city, but doesn’t get enough recognition. I could survive on the sweet onion bisque alone for at least a week.

The Refectory:  http://www.therefectoryrestaurant.com
It’s been forever since I’ve stopped into this upscale French classic. For my next special occasion meal, you’ll find me here.

Mikey’s Late Night Slice:  http://www.latenightslice.com/
I’m always in the mood for some Mikey’s. With the opening of the Fourth Street location with an expanded menu, there’s no time like the present!

Late Night Slice

What restaurants are must-try places for you in 2016? Have you been to any of these joints?

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680 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Top Tastes
1. Falafel
2. Hummus & Pita
3. Brisket
4. Marinated Cauliflower
5. Spiced Carrots

Brassica on High Street

I have yet to decide which menu items at Brassica are my favorite, and I don’t know that I ever will. Never been to the new Mediterranean joint? You’re in for a treat. I hate to compare Brassica to Chipotle, because it’s an insult really. But it has the same fast-casual, customizable format as the Mexican chain. It’s a segment in which the Short North was severely lacking, and Brassica fits the bills perfectly.

The menu at Brassica

Everything about this spot screams fresh. The menu itself is small but delicious. You choose a base for your goodies first; select either a salad, pita sandwich, or a hummus plate. Side note: the pita is toasted until warm and puffy in a wood-fired oven, then propped up with a metal ring to allow maximum stuffing – I highly recommend it! Then, pick your primary filler. I am crazy about the falafel, but the tender harissa-marinated brisket is also a stellar option. Other choices are just as mouthwatering: house-cured and peppered lamb bacon, succulent chicken, or all-veggie.

The Choices at Brassica

I’m the first to admit that I skimp on veggies sometimes, but this is a vegetable-lover’s heaven where even carnivores can come aboard. Slather your salad or pita with amazingly creamy hummus or baba ghanoush and a scoop of lentils and rice. Next, go for topping choices like crispy onions, beets, pickled cabbage, or cucumbers for crunch. Or add the spice-packed marinated carrots or cauliflower. On second thought, maybe just throw on everything, it’s so tempting! Top it all off with a sauce like the secret house dressing or tahini to amp up the flavor.

Pita Sandwich from Brassica

There’s an emphasis on local here as well, with Columbus-based brews on tap, such Land-Grant, Zauber, and Seventh Son. Look for Ohio-grown produce and Lucky Penny feta cheese on the menu too. The bottom line: head to Brassica as soon as you can!

Culinary Clue:  The brisket option is often “while supplies last” so hurry in if that’s what you’re craving.

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Brassica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2015 Year in Review

2015 Year in Review
2015 has been a spectacular year for so many reasons, but deciding to start this blog has been one of the most fulfilling. It’s provided me with a creative writing outlet and been a way to document my favorite hobby. So as I reflect on all of the fun I’ve had this year, here are some of the Columbus Culinary Connection posts that you as readers have loved the most, and a few of my favorite snapshots from my first year as a blogger. This is a lengthier post, but it’s too challenging to narrow down my experiences!

Eats and Treats

Year in Review - Hot Chicken Takeover
Doing so much writing forced me to discover new restaurants that I’d never set foot in previously, and I’m so glad it got me out of my usual rotation. I unearthed gems like Hot Chicken Takeover and Veritas Tavern, and became a regular at places such as 101 Beer Kitchen, Harvest Pizzeria, and Harvest Moon Cafe. I want to take up residence at Fox in the Snow. I also started a food truck series that has been super entertaining; you adored posts about Por’Ketta and Tortilla Street Food the most.

Brews and Bottles

Year in Review - Rockmill

I relished getting the chance to chronicle my most-loved watering holes, and add some new ones to my list as well. From wineries like Buckeye Lake to campus-area meadery Brothers Drake, it was a joy sampling local spirits! I upped my craft beer numbers too, by picking up rare finds at Crafted Drafts and Rockmill Brewery. Curio curated one of my favorite cocktails, the Dapper Dan, and I began writing monthly boozy recipes for Drink Up Columbus.

Local Love

Year in Review - Liberty Pottery

Columbus as a community is all about helping others and supporting local, family-owned businesses. There are so many options for gifts, tours, or non-chain spots to grab a bite. In 2015 I featured joints like this in one neighborhood in particular, Grandview. Next year, look for a neighborhood guide on a new section of Cbus! I also started a “5 to Try” column, highlighting topics like products or pizza. I had a blast visiting the Ohio History Center Speakeasy event, and traveling to South Carolina, Biltmore Estate, and Pittsburgh, with a few other quick jaunts in between.


Year in Review - Pork Tenderloin

Sharing new cooking creations and my family’s favorite meals was very personal for me. Grilling pork tenderloin with this marinade proved tasty beyond belief, and this easy sweet Italian salad dressing was also a hit. My mom shared the first guest post on the blog, detailing our Christmas cookie traditions.

Instagram is a platform that truly lets food photos shine, and it’s been so enjoyable sharing a photograph each day as I eat my way through the capital city. Below, you will find my most memorable Instagram shots and a few extra pics sprinkled in. Follow along at @cbusconnect :

2015 Photos in Review

It’s always been my mission to share my love of all things culinary and all things Columbus, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store! I am so humbled and grateful that so many of you have taken the time to read the posts, send me emails, and promote this brand.

What has been your favorite post this year? Is there a can’t-miss restaurant you want to see featured? Let me know in the comments!

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Kraft House No. 5: Brunch

Kraft House No. 5
5 S. Liberty St.
Powell, OH 43065

Top Tastes

  1. Waffle Flight
  2. Orange Crush
  3. Short Rib Hash
  4. Build Your Own Bloody Mary
  5. Breakfast Burger

Inside of Kraft House No. 5

Kraft House No. 5 is one spot for brunch that I’m crazy about, but I don’t feel it gets enough love. With some unique takes on what can be a very generic meal, this spot won’t disappoint you. So plan a jaunt to Powell, take in some shopping, and fill up with some tasty food and drink at Kraft House.

Outside of Kraft House No.5

Because I always want to try everything, I am crazy about flights of anything. Beer, wines, you name it. But waffles? I’m all in, and you should be too! Kraft House No. 5’s waffle flight allows you to sample three differently topped confections, each with an infused syrup. Here are the pairings: bacon and banana with rosemary maple syrup; dried cherries with bourbon cherry maple syrup; and fresh blueberries with spiced vodka maple syrup. You can also get your waffle fix with a Chicken and Waffle dish offering.

Waffle Flight Kraft House No. 5

If you want to go the more traditional egg route for maximum brunch satisfaction, you’re covered here too. The Short Rib Hash (Potato onion hash, poached eggs, tomatillo salsa, cotija cheese, killer fried plantains, and hollandaise) is an entree you will gobble up quickly. Another fun option is the Breakfast Burger, which consists of maple aioli, hash browns, Benton’s bacon, an egg, and Ohio white cheddar. There are other great choices too, such as the rotating egg benedict special, or a classic breakfast club.

For breakfasty booze, try the Orange Crush: bourbon, orange juice, vanilla honey, and an egg white; it’s the perfect morning pick-me-up. Or, if you are a Bloody Mary person, pick your poison among Rosemary Vodka, Serrano Tequila, or Bacon Bourbon, and then build your own skewer for dunking in it.

Brunch Cocktails at Kraft House No. 5

Culinary Clue: Kraft House also does some awesome tap takeovers with local breweries. Soon to come: December 10th – Ill Mannered Brewing, and January 21st – Four String Brewery.

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Kraft House No. 5 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide
It’s that time of year. You know, when it starts to get so close to crunch time for holiday gifts that even online ordering will let you down. This year, save yourself a panic attack and shop local! Steer clear of gas gift cards and ties that no one wants – you can do so much better in the presents department. Here are some of my favorite gifts for the food and drink lover in your life; all are Columbus-centric.

For the Foodie:

Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams is touting one of the most craveable selections on this list: The Pint Club. Four times a year, receive three unique pints of Jeni’s, delivered right to your doorstep. What’s not to love?

The North Market offers gift cards which can be redeemed at the vendor stalls within the building. There are so many good options to utilize these certificates: Pistacia Vera, Hot Chicken Takeover, or freshly rolled ravioli at Pastaria.

Pastaria at North Market

Not interested in making dessert? I’m obsessed with the cutout cookies from Jana Lee’s Bake Shop. Her designs are creative and will have your guests drooling. Or give a box of them to someone with a sweet tooth!

Jana Lee Bake Shop Christmas Cookies

Breakfast with Nick’s cozy breakfast-themed t-shirts are also a great choice for a hard-to-buy friend. Find them here.

For the Drinker:

A starter kit from The Daily Growler is a perfect present for craft beer nerds. You get a growler, 2 pint glasses, and a $10 gift card to the taproom, all for $25.

The Daily Growler Starter Kit

Giving a gift of an experience is always a good way to spend time with someone. Columbus Brew Adventures tours visit multiple breweries and distilleries, transporting you around the city and providing tastings. Learn more here. Food tours are available too, from Columbus Food Adventures.

Camelot Cellars offers a Handcraft Your Own Wine Package, a tasty twist on gift-giving. This purchase lets you create, bottle, and custom-label your own series of wine.

Books are always crowd-pleasers for the reader that also loves to drink. I recommend Historic Columbus Taverns, for some interesting facts about some of our town’s most beloved watering holes.

Columbus Taverns Book

For the Home Chef:

There are so many locations in Columbus to take cooking classes, places that offer lessons for novices and expert cooks alike. The Commissary, Shaw’s Restaurant & Inn, and Franklin Park Conservatory all have classes for every cuisine imaginable.

If you have a friend that loves to play host or hostess, there are so many options for kitchen decor.  Elm + Iron has a beautiful shop in Clintonville filled with items like fun bar signs, Columbus Barrel Co. bottle openers, and these snarky plates.

Holiday Gift Guide Entertainer

Check out Celebrate Local for wine, wooden cutting boards, and other local items like jams and syrups to add to your seasonal table.

Celebrate Local

Have some ideas for local gifts for culinary-loving friends and family? Let me know in the comments below.

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Disclosure: In an effort to be completely transparent, the book link through Amazon is an affiliate link. I do get a small advertising commission if you buy it, but you are not charged anything extra.

Caroline’s Picks: 5 Columbus Pizzas I Love

Caroline's Picks - 5 Columbus Picks I Love
Pizza might be the best food there is. Period. It has bread and cheese, plus it’s socially appropriate to dip it in garlic butter, so I’m on board. Fortunately for those of us who reside in Columbus, we have so many great options in the pizza department. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but here are 5 of the most craveable pies in central Ohio, a mix of traditional and unique styles.

Spicy Yuma: Harvest Pizzeria
Spicy Yuma from Harvest Pizza

Heat seekers will love this sublime creation topped with a chipotle-spiked sauce, corn, chorizo, roasted peppers, cheese, and jalapenos. All this deliciousness is placed atop a wood-fired crust that will leave you wanting more!

Pepperoni Pizza: Tommy’s Pizza
Tommys Pizza

Perfect for a post-tailgate meal, campus-area Tommy’s is one of my favorites since childhood. A classic take on pepperoni pie, this offering is anything but boring. With an ultra-thin crust and crispy-edged pepperoni, everyone will enjoy this pizza.

Pimento Cheese Pizza: Diamond Jim’s
Pimento Cheese Pizza from Diamond Jims

Pimento cheese on a pizza? Yes please! The tasty southern spread (with just a little kick to it) is slathered on a cornmeal-dusted crust, along with strips of bacon and a sprinkle of lettuce and banana peppers. Don’t miss this downtown Lancaster treat!

Pepperoni Pizza: Mikey’s Late Night Slice
Pepperoni Pizza from Mikeys Late Night Slice

Served by the slice, Mikey’s pizzas are the ideal food to accompany your adult beverage of choice. Best of all? Each joint has serve your own sauce stations with ranch, spicy ranch, garlic, and the fiery Sauce-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Find the trucks around town, or at one of the many brick-and mortar locations.

Falafel Pitza: Aladdin’s Eatery
Falafel Pitza: Aladdin's Eatery

For a new twist on pizza, give the falafel-topped pie at this Grandview spot a taste. I am so obsessed with this concoction of tahini yogurt, falafel, sliced banana peppers, diced tomatoes, and parsley, all on a pita base.

These are just few of the pizzas I love. Which ones are your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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A Visit to: Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
One Lodge Street
Asheville, NC 28803

As a history nerd and lover of all things Downton Abbey, it is remarkable that I hadn’t visited Biltmore Estate already. But this October, I finally made it! Biltmore is located in Asheville, North Carolina, a funky foodie town in itself. From Columbus, Asheville is only a short 7 hour drive, and depending on the route you take, winds through the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Because it was my first trip, I took the basic audio tour of the estate, and was not disappointed. No photography is allowed inside, but I got some great shots of the exterior of the mansion and the grounds. It was a little chilly, but we were so glad that we went in the fall, because the leaves were gorgeous and made for some incredible mountain pictures as well.

The beautiful Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC

The dining and drinking scene at Biltmore is equally impressive. At the Inn at Biltmore, you can indulge in an authentic Afternoon Tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and teas of all kinds. Also located on the property is Antler Village, a mini-town complete with a museum, restaurants, shopping, and the winery.  You might think that the food in a tourist-heavy area would be conventional and uninspired; not the case with Bistro, a delicious farm-to-table spot where I ordered the most delicious scallop bucatini pasta. We also popped in Cedric’s Tavern, a casual pub named for George Vanderblit’s dog. Here, you can nosh on dishes like charcuterie plates, Jack and Coke marinated wings, and tavern pretzels. We enjoyed the house brown ale, produced by local brewery Highland.

Food and Wine at Biltmore Estate

You may have seen Biltmore wines at your local grocery store, but here you can try more than 20 wines of all varieties, made on the Estate. A free tasting and optional tour of the winery is included with Estate admission. Bottles of wine and wine-related gift items are available to take home after you decide on your favorite (or multiple favorites). You can also purchase all kinds of food items in the winery, such as Cheesy Bacon and Onion Dip Mix; I kept going back for more samples, then broke down and bought a packet of my own.

New life plan: Return to Biltmore at Christmas. The photos of the holiday decorations look absolutely stunning, and there are so many more tours to take, as well as plenty of food to try!

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Katalina’s Cafe

Katalina's Cafe
1105 Pennsylvania Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201

Top Tastes
1. Pancake Balls
2. Katalina’s Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Bacon
3. Breakfast Tacos
4. Hens-in-a-Basket
5. Shagbark Chips and Guacamole

I’m going to put it out there: Katalina’s Cafe is one of my favorite breakfast spots in Columbus. This crowded Harrison West area spot is truly sublime, with a Tex-Mex lean and some signature dishes in the mix. The beloved neighborhood joint is only open from 8 am – 4 pm, but there is a guaranteed brunch choice for every palette.

The Patio at Katalina's

Let’s discuss Katalina’s most notorious item: pancake balls. If you have yet to sample these succulent treats, you’ve been missing out. Katalina’s special pancake batter is baked in round molds to create a circle-shaped delight; then the core is stuffed with your choice of fillings. Select from Nutella, dulce de leche caramel, or pumpkin-apple butter. Each gooey center option is equally terrific, and will leave you wanting more. Pair the pancake balls with Katalina’s Original Sweet ‘N’ Spicy Bacon, an excellent marriage of sugar and heat. Fans of sweet + salty breakfast dishes will rejoice in this combo of pancakes and bacon. There are also the Southern Biscuit Balls, fluffy biscuits filled with Beeler’s ham, Cooper’s Mill apple butter, & melted local Amish cheddar, served with your choice of eggs on the side.

Pancake Balls at Katalina's

For savory entrees, the features are just as delicious. I am crazy about the “Hens-in-a-Basket,” two eggs inside two slices of toasted sourdough, with bacon and Katalina’s Zesty Brussels Sprouts Hash. Taco lovers will revel in the Breakfast Tacos, consisting of 3 white corn Koki’s tortillas filled with housemade chorizo, scrambled eggs, homemade tomatillo sauce, avocado, queso fresco, local Snowville crema & pico de gallo. Many dishes are accompanied by the stellar Elote Cuban Cob Corn, and there are plenty of vegetarian options as well. For more lunchtime leanings, sample the local Shagbark Chips and guacamole. A caddy on the table contains all the hot sauce varieties that any heat aficionado would want, from Frank’s to Cholula, to Sriracha and black pepper ketchup.  Wash down all of this spicy goodness with fresh-squeezed juices like tangy Blood Orange Juice. It is the perfect hangover cure.

Breakfast Tacos from Katalina's Cafe

If you are looking for some tasty morning grub, and don’t mind a short wait, Katalina’s needs to become your new hangout. End of story.

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Katalina's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Visit To: Greenville, South Carolina

A Visit To - Greenville SC
Looking for a Southern culinary destination? Many Ohioans have journeyed to Savannah, or fallen in love with the charm of Charleston, but have you ever considered stopping by Greenville, South Carolina?

I was looking to explore someplace new, and after recommendations from both my boss and a Columbus Dispatch travel article, I was sold. So on my route home from Hilton Head Island, my husband and I made a quick detour to check out Greenville. Armed with dining recommendations from my boss, some advice from Twitter, and my own internet research, we scouted out some awesome locations where you can partake in some true Southern hospitality.

Fountain in Greenville SC

The first thing that will strike you about Greenville is the beauty of the downtown area. At every turn is a flower bed, a sculpture, or a fountain. Greenville is a former cotton mill mecca, and you can still see the warehouses and crumbling foundations of textile buildings throughout the city. Falls Park on the Reedy is the heart of it all, and the anchor for many of the local restaurants and shops. This waterfall-laden park is breathtaking, filled with picnic areas and pedestrian bridges. The energy here was infectious as well, with roaming Clemson fans and natives who were eager to share some of their favorite local spots.

The Trappe Door in Greenville SC

From funky taco joints to seafood, any cuisine you desire is a short walk from Falls Park. For an upscale dining experience, don’t miss High Cotton or Larkin’s on the River. Looking for authentic lowcountry fare? Look no further than Tupelo Honey Cafe. With flaky biscuits, country ham wontons, and fried chicken, you’re guaranteed to leave with a full stomach. Craving barbecue? Visit Smoke on the Water for pimento cheese, grilled shrimp, and pulled pork. Mast General Store is a fun shopping detour, where you can find clothes, gifts, and locally-made items like grits and spice rubs.

My day in Greenville SC

If you’re seeking a spot to imbibe, there are no shortage of locations. Pop into Dark Corner Distillery for a moonshine tasting; it’s a steal at $4 for 7 samples plus the shot glass to take home. Beer aficionados will love Trappe Door, a medieval dungeon-like watering hole complete with tons of Belgian-style brews and snacks. For a sports bar, Carolina Ale House is a good choice to catch a game and a craft pint.

Dark Corner Distillery

The bottom line? If you want to conquer a new foodie city, give this beautiful town a try. See you soon, Greenville!

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Caroline’s Picks: 5 Sliders to Try

Caroline's Picks - 5 Sliders to Try
There’s something about sliders. They are perfectly bite-sized, a platter of them is ideal for sharing, and they are full of flavor. Columbus restaurants and food trucks have some great slider offerings; some of them have very unique fillings! Here is a breakdown of some of my favorite sliders in town:

Quinoa Slider: Strongwater Food and Spirits

Quinoa Slider: Strongwater Food and Spirits

Strongwater has a ridiculously awesome vegetarian menu; so good that it almost makes me reconsider my carnivore status. Almost. It sounds crazy, but the quinoa “patty” on this slider is fabulous. Add some microgreens, vegan mayo, and a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce, and you’ve got a winning combo.

OH! Classic Slider: OH! Burgers

OH! Classic Slider: OH! Burgers

Slider purists will cherish these mini burgers. With a juicy beef center and toppings of cheddar, bacon, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion, these sliders pair well with a cold beer. That’s lucky, since you can often find this truck at Land-Grant Brewing!

Mac and Cheese Slider: Cray Eatery and Drinkery

Mac and Cheese Slider: Cray Eatery and Drinkery

Looking for a calorie splurge? This little bite of heaven has all the elements you’d ever want: a deep-fried macaroni and cheese patty, bacon, ranch, and a pretzel bun. Check out their other slider offerings too! The majority of the menu is fun styles of small sandwiches.

Pork Belly Lotus Slider: Aloha Steatery

Pork Belly Lotus Slider: Aloha Steatery

Aloha’s concept of steam bun sliders is fresh and satisfying. My favorite of their steam bun sammies? The pork belly, drizzled with sweet BBQ and a sprinkle of cilantro. All these goodies are tucked into a soft, warm pocket of dough. Yes please!

Spicy Saigon Sliders: Mai Chau

Spicy Saigon Sliders: Mai Chau

The sweet and spicy sliders from this Vietnamese truck was one of the most memorable items I tried at this year’s Food Truck Festival. Flavorful pulled pork saturated in hot sauce is finished with a crunchy slaw to cool it all down, making this slider offering is a must-try.

Have some suggestions for other Cbus slider joints? Let me know in the comments below.

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