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Diamonds in the Rough

In late summer, a trusted foodie-in-arms told me that the season wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the newly opened Diamonds on Bethel Road. No, it’s not a strip club or a jewelry store as Google Maps might have you believe. By its description I imagined Diamonds to be a small operation, doling out [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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In late summer, a trusted foodie-in-arms told me that the season wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the newly opened Diamonds on Bethel Road.

No, it’s not a strip club or a jewelry store as Google Maps might have you believe. By its description I imagined Diamonds to be a small operation, doling out a variety of “paletas” (literally meaning “little flat stick,” but Spanish for popsicle) from an unassuming strip-mall storefront in the Bethel-Sawmill cluster, but upon my first visit, the wealth of what Diamonds has to offer was overwhelming.

Painted in loud and bright hues of neon pink and purple, this oasis of culinary esotericism is hard to miss. After devouring three paletas—blackberry and cheese, mango, and pine nut—I could think of no precedent in Columbus, and trying to conjure one (perhaps a “scoop shop”?) would be shirking the basic concept of Diamonds. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

“My nephew has been doing this for a while in Guadalajara,” says Diamonds’ owner Jose Torres, who has spent the last 15 years opening traditional Mexican restaurants in Central Ohio. “He is very well known for having some of the best paletas in Mexico. We decided to open this store because there’s nothing like it in Columbus.”

“There’s also nothing like this because we are using his nephew’s recipes,” adds partner Rene Flores, “and those recipes are secret.”

Indeed, the paletas are the main attraction at Diamonds. Even with a staggering 50 or so “sabores” (flavors) at any given time, on a spectrum from “de aqua” to “de leche” (water or milk based), each paleta is made fresh on-site with all-natural ingredients. So, for instance, the adventurous jalapeño paleta is a refreshing blend of ice and huge chunks of the pepper, while the pistachio paleta goes for a creamier consistency but is still chock full of nuts. After trying another trio of exotic options—watermelon chile (dusted with spicy tajin seasoning), corn, and guanabana—I was gripped by a Pokémon-like addiction in needing to try them all. I returned two days later with a cooler and a handful of cash.

But Diamonds goes beyond being just a simple peddler of popsicles. Many of the same “sabores” appear in ice cream form as well, with oddball pairings like vanilla and grape or butter and strawberry mingling alongside Diamonds’ unique take on the classics. Or if you’re feeling more health conscious there are a number of “aqua frescas” and fresh-squeezed juices to try.

Most intriguing though is the snack bar that lines the back wall of Diamonds. That’s where you’ll find Torres most of the time, slicing through piles of tropical fruit to create what amounts to an edible arrangement of monumental proportions.

“These fruit desserts are very common on the beaches in Mexico, and though we don’t have beaches, we wanted to serve these here,” says Torres.

On my first visit I witnessed a family sharing the “sandia loca” (crazy watermelon) which was half a melon overflowing with mangoes, mamey (a kiwi-esque fruit that has a taste similar to a baked sweet potato), pineapple, guava, and strawberries caked in a tamarind candy. The father proceeded to douse the cornucopia with what looked like ketchup but turned out to be chamoy—a savory and spicy condiment made from pickling apricots and plums. 

For the completely insane, there are the “tosti locos,” an authentic take on Mexican street food made with tortilla chips topped with ample amounts of jicama, cucumber, Valentina hot sauce, and more of the ubiquitous chamoy and tajin. Go over the top by adding “cueritos”  (pickled pork rinds) and “cacahuates” (Japanese peanuts) to this monstrosity, transcending the concept of “snack” in a single sitting.

Be warned. Diamonds is not a place for those who have a hard time making decisions, as the options seem infinite. Diamonds  needs to be embraced as a foodie journey. It will require a series of visits to wholly decipher the expanse of their menu, which serves to satisfy many different palates.

Plan on spending the day there. Gluttony awaits.

Diamonds is located at 5461 Bethel Rd. Call (614) 718-2980
for more information.

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Food & Drink

Slice into our top picks for National Pizza Party Day!

Mike Thomas

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May 17 is National Pizza Party Day—a celebration that is near and dear to our hearts at (614). And what better day of the week for an office pizza party than Friday?

To help you and your gang decide which pie(s) to go with on this momentous occasion, take a look at this roundup of some of our most primo pizza content. Bone apple teeth!

The best pizza in C-Bus according to Columbest Voters

The results for Columbest 2019 were announced in the May issue of (614) Magazine, with Harvest Pizzeria taking the top spot in the “best gourmet pizza” category, and Mikey’s Late Night winning “best traditional.”

26,000+ Columbest voters can’t be wrong. Let these hometown heroes provide the pie for a pizza party you won’t soon forget!

Pizza – Columbus Style

Did you know Columbus has its own distinct style? Edge to edge toppings, crispy crust, cut pub-style – these are some indications that you’re dining on Columbus’ own signature ‘za. Not sure what we’re talking about? Refer to this list to see what we mean.

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In Pizza We Trust

Need to grab a pie on the go? Look no further than a Pizza ATM conveniently located at OSU campus. Fair warning, since reporting on this a few months ago, we haven’t been back to see if this still exists. Something tells us this was either too weird of an idea to last, or too brilliant to ever die.

C-Bus pizza on the big stage

At this point, our fair city is no stranger to coverage in national publications – and our pizza is no exception. Earlier this year, food blog Rave Reviews included Columbus’ own Rubino’s and Mikey’s Late Night Slice on their Pizza Road Trip roundup of the best pies in the nation.

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Hey, @fussbucket… Nice #BINOS! #SausagePizza

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Deep dish (if you must…)

Is deep dish more your thing? We (I) think there’s something wrong with you, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the sauce-on-top monstrosity you crave. Check out our top picks for the “best” deep-dish style pizzas in town.

Celebrating National Pizza Party Day? Of course you are! Let us know your pizza of choice in the comments.

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Food & Drink

Outerbelt Brewing: small town, huge brewery

Mike Thomas

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With no end in sight for the craft beer boom, upstart breweries are leaving the city behind for the wide open spaces of the suburbs.

According to a report from Drink Up Columbus, Outerbelt Brewing will be the latest to toss their hat into the central Ohio Craft Beer ring when they open their doors in less than a month.

Located in a former Lowes hardware location at 3560 Dolson Ct. near Carroll, Ohio, Outerbelt Brewing is not far from Lancaster.

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Outerbelt is scheduled to open to the public on either June 8 or June 15, depending on construction deadlines. The new brewery will occupy about 25,000 square feet, with about 5,600 square feet set aside for a taproom. Plans also include a spacious 2,000 square foot patio.

Upon opening, Outerbelt plans to offer 10 beers on tap, as well as cold brew coffee.

Look for Outerbelt this Friday, May 18 at the Columbus Craft Beer Week kickoff party at Giant Eagle Market District, where some of their beer will be available to try. Outerbelt Beer will also be on hand Saturday at the Six One Pour Ohio Beer Festival at COSI.

To view pictures and to learn more about Outerbelt, check out the full story at Drink Up Columbus.

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Food & Drink

4 brewers talk past, present future of C-bus beer scene

Mike Thomas

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With the rise of craft beer, celebrations of America’s most popular alcoholic beverage are nearly as plentiful as the varieties of suds found on supermarket shelves.

Whether it’s a day set aside in honor of a given style (IPA day is observed Aug. 2) or a pseudo-holiday cash grab from a major international brewery, (Arthur’s Day is not a thing, Guinness) beer fans have plenty of occasions throughout the year to toast their favorite drink.

In honor of Columbus Craft Beer Week (May 17-25), (614) spoke to Columbus brewers Colin Vent at Seventh Son Brewing, Dan Shaffer at Land-Grant, Craig O’Herron at Sideswipe Brewing, and Chris Davison, at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in order to explore the beginnings of brew in the capital city, where it stands today, and what the future might hold.

(614): When you think of Columbus beer history, what comes to mind?

Vent: The recent history is pretty young. We were 7th or 8th six years ago, and now there’s over 50. Barley’s, Smoke House, Elevator, Columbus Brewing Company—those were around for 10 or 15 years, then all of the sudden, Four String, us, North High, and soon thereafter Land Grant popped up, and from there it’s just been crazy. Obviously all of Columbus [beer] history goes back hundreds of years; there used to be major production. Hoster was one of the largest breweries in the country.

Shaffer: I think of Barley’s, CBC, the people that were there at the beginning. We’re all standing on their shoulders. Obviously it’s all come a very long way. I’m trying to think of what the first craft beer I had in Columbus was. It was probably a CBC IPA.

(614): What are some prevailing trends that you see happening with beer in Columbus today?

O’Herron: I feel like we’ve gotten over a lot of the recent trends. We saw a lot of the New England IPAs, and then Brut IPAs to a lesser extent. I don’t know if there’s a trend that’s happening right this moment, but I’m sure we’ll see something new and wacky come around.

Davison: The national trend has been IPA, IPA, IPA, and I think Columbus is a microcosm of that. Ohio is an IPA state, and Columbus is an IPA city even more so than some other cities in the state. We’ve got a lot of the top-tier IPA breweries right now, a lot of people making really good IPA. I think that’s going to continue to rise, and I think we’re going to continue to see more styles [of IPA].

(614): What does the future hold for Columbus Beer? Have we reached a saturation point on how many breweries the city can sustain?

Vent: I don’t know that Columbus could take another 10 or 20 Land Grants and Seventh Sons, but I think it could take another 10 or 20 [breweries] that just want to have an awesome neighborhood brewpub. As many breweries as an area can sustain, that’s what there will be.

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Davison: I think it all comes down to what those breweries are trying to accomplish. Trying to be a production brewery that’s distributing cans across the entire state is going to get harder and harder, not that some won’t continue to grow and do that. I think there’s a ton of room for local brewpubs that don’t even want to sell their beer outside of their own bar. Every bar in this city could theoretically brew its own beer, and there’s no reason the city can’t sustain 500 breweries that are tiny like that.

Shaffer: Obviously people are gravitating towards local. I think it’s really cool that every neighborhood, instead of a watering hole, can have a local brewery. I think we’ll probably see more sours, probably more specialization. IPA’s aren’t going anywhere—there will be more IPA variants. When there is this much competition, you can’t afford to be a generic beer brewery anymore. There has to be something you’re passionate about, whether it’s Belgian or English styles, or pilsners, high-gravity stouts—whatever. There’s got to be something that you can say “this is what we’re all about.”

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