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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

It’s Restaurant Week! Enter grand prize, view menus, make reservations

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It’s finally here! Happy Restaurant Week July 15-20! What’s Restaurant Week you ask? You must be new. Thats OK! We’ll get you up to speed and in the know.

This week, you can enjoy 3-course meals at 120+ of Columbus’ best restaurants for a fraction of the cost. Dig into deep discounts from local favorites such as City Barbeque with special menus starting at just $15! Restaurant Week is also your to scope out some of the swankiest spots in town on the cheap like Smith & Wollensky and Mezzo !

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Or, you could get meals for FREE if you’re the lucky winner of our grand prize! In our Restaurant Week giveaway, one lucky winner will receive a $500 Marathon Gift Card AND dinner for 4 at 5 Restaurant Week restaurants! Plus, 25 additional winners will receive dinner for 2 at a participating Restaurant Week restaurant!

Your giveaway entries could help you score big, but they also do good in the community. During Restaurant Week Columbus presented by (614) Magazine & Marathon Petroleum Corporation, $0.25 donation will be made to Pelotonia for each unique giveaway entry, up to $5,000.

To view menus, make reservations, and enter the grand prize giveaway, visit eat614.com. And be sure to keep an eye on 614’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for additional giveaways all week!

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Food & Drink

Tuttle Mall getting a lot sweeter thanks to 2 newcomers

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Malls have changed a lot over the years. Remember Waldenbooks? Was KB Toys your go-to as a kid? Heck, even Sears will soon be nothing more than a memory.

While mall establishments are frequently lost to the sands of time, it’s rare that you see a former retailer return to a mall it’s already vacated once. Well brace yourselves, sweets fans, because a gooey, sugar-frosted favorite is making a comeback at Tuttle Mall.

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Of course we’re talking Cinnabon, which was last in operation at Tuttle some years ago, and is now listed as “coming soon” on the mall’s directory. But wait! As tempting as it will be to fill up on cinnamon rolls after this long absence, you’ll want to save room for this other coming attraction: it seems Duck Donuts is also setting up shop in Tuttle.

Hop on the treadmill and give your dentist a heads-up, mall lovers—sweets are back at Tuttle in a big way!

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Food & Drink

Dive into Guy Fieri’s picks for best BBQ in nation, including one local spot

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Columbus native and mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri has always had a soft spot for his hometown, especially its BBQ. He’s been around the country to enjoy some of the best food America has to offer for his show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but it’s right here in Columbus where some of the meats are being smoked: Ray Ray’s Hog Pit.

The Food Network recently posted a list of Fieri’s top barbecue picks from DDD including James Anderson’s smokin’ hot food truck.

Guy Fieri just named us to his “Best BBQ from DDD” list. Thanks for the massive honor Guy, come back and see us anytime. http://bit.ly/DDDBestBBQ

Posted by Ray Ray's Hog Pit on Thursday, July 18, 2019

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“Chef and Owner James Anderson raises his own pigs for the succulent smoked offerings at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, a one-of-a-kind barbecue truck in Columbus, Ohio,” reads the Food Network description. “Guy tried the super-moist Mangalitsa Brat Burger and St. Louis Spare Ribs.”

Ray Ray’s was originally featured on the “College Town Champs” episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2017.

Click here to view Fieri’s 59 top BBQ picks.

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