Written by Aaron-Michael Fox.
With just two trucks keeping regular hours, downtown Huntington’s mobile food scene might seem small, but keep in mind that it was a mere three years ago that it didn’t have any food trucks at all.
While several food trucks have come and gone in the last few years, only Grindstone Coffeeology and Southside Sliders have lasted more than a summer or so.
Like Grindstone Coffeeology (more on them HERE), Southside Sliders first started serving the Ritter Park neighborhood in South Side in 2015. Their miniature hamburgers and sandwiches were an immediate hit and they were soon looking for a wider audience in the downtown commercial district. Southside Sliders’ service in the South Side neighborhood is now primarily restricted to the Huntington Music and Arts Festival and Funktafest.
“We also do the Rails and Ales Beer Festival at Harris Riverfront Park every year,” said Tyler Shelton, whose title is Mobile Tactical Culinary Command Hunger Relief Expert at Southside Sliders.
Shelton rounds out the Southside team with Joshua Villeneuve and owner Jason Webb, who together have more than 20 years of restaurant experience serving downtown Huntington.
Southside is perhaps best known for its late-night spot on Fourth Avenue, operating from 11 p.m. – 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. “By far our best spot is Fourth Avenue,” Shelton said. “Downtown was a natural spot to hit because there is nothing open down there that late. Usually there is a huge club and bar crowd that we help to sober up [while they] enjoy some awesome food without having to travel.”
Southside Sliders’ Fourth Avenue spot is usually in front of the Lantern at 817 Fourth Avenue, or across from the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in front of St. Mark’s Lounge and the Jockey Club. All three bars are established nightspots, but do not have kitchens to offer food service, so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Shelton stressed that Southside isn’t just late night food for intoxicated bar goers. “We also go to businesses throughout the week from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.,” Shelton said. “GC Services, Amazon, the Dutch Miller dealerships, East Hills Professional Center, the River Tower, the DHHR, etc.”
You can keep up with where the Southside truck is going to be by following their Facebook page HERE.
The Southside menu is extensive and ever changing, so I would heartily recommend you check it out in advance HERE.
Shelton said Southside’s best sellers are the original “Southside” cheeseburger, which won the people’s choice award for best burger in Huntington (as published by Huntington Quarterly); and the “Greek” which is a gyro-style burger made from ground lamb topped with a yogurt tzatziki sauce, Kalamata olives, lettuce, tomato, onion, and feta cheese.
Another bestseller is the “Pony Express,” which is a teriyaki-marinated pork tenderloin on a Hawaiian roll with mayonnaise and Swiss cheese. Personally, I prefer the “Highlander,” which is a sweet honey-baked ham served on a Hawaiian roll with mayo and Swiss.
“We like to think of the Highlander as being second behind the Pony Express,” said Jason Webb, owner of Southside Sliders. A graduate of the “old” Huntington High School, Webb enjoys the playful jab at his former rivals from Huntington East.
Southside also features some vegetarian options such as the grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and the tater tot slider.
And speaking of tater tots, this is a must-order to go with whichever sandwich you pick. The tots are available plain, with cheese, or with chili and cheese. You can also get a cup of chili with no tots, but why would you want to do that?
Southside’s menu is constantly evolving with a different slider featured every month. This month’s feature is salmon and beer-battered cod sliders for Lent. Some of the sandwiches are quite experimental. My favorite is the “Dumptruck” which is a cheeseburger topped with mayo, nacho cheese, hot sauce, pickles, pulled pork, and coleslaw.
For dessert, I’d recommend Southside’s cheesecake chimichangas, which are truly something to write home about.
Southside Sliders uses fresh, never frozen ingredients and is available for custom orders and catering. Contact them on Facebook or at (304) 417-3782.