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4 fresh food truck finds

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With the the heat of Summer finally upon us, many of your annoyingly proactive friends and family members will pick up productive hobbies: swimming, cycling, running, soccer. If you’re like me and the thought of physical activity in the thick, humid Ohio air sounds nothing short of abhorrent, I have good news. It’s also food truck season.

The city of Columbus boasts an ever-expanding number of fun, delicious mobile eateries for you to dig into this Summer. Here are our picks.

NOTE: Many food trucks don’t adhere to a completely set location schedule. Be sure to consult each truck’s website or Streetfoodinder.com for reliable location information and hours.

AJUMAMA

Ajumama is a longstanding player in the Columbus food truck game, opening seven years ago after founder Laura Lee returned to the Midwest from California, where she worked as a full-time chef. And while the veteran eatery does specialize in Korean street food, it does with it a unique blend of Korean and Ohio cuisine that’s both delicious and unexpected.

“[Our original menu of Korean street food] sort of evolved with me taking inspiration from growing up in the Midwest and wanting to mix things with different Korean dishes to find commonalities,” says Lee. “I grew up in Ohio; we do a lot of sandwiches, so it kind of turned into me being like hey, these two items are common, how can I make them mesh together in a way that is relatable, but flavor-wise true to what I know? There’s an honesty in that as well that’s really appealing.”

Photos: Rebecca Tien

And while Ajumama’s fare can be described as refreshing and honest, there’s another word that can be applied: delicious. Take for example the as- good-as-it-sounds Bulgogi Cheezesteak which pairs the traditional shaved beef and marinated onions on a warm hoagie roll with Shishito peppers instead of bell peppers, topped with Lee’s “Kimcheeze” sauce. Another flagship menu item is their Kimchi Bratwurst, which features a Butcher & Grocer sausage topped with homemade kimchi and spicy mayo.

As evolution seems to be at the core of Ajumama, Lee believes in regularly rotating the truck’s offerings, allowing for a wider range of items to be enjoyed. Don’t worry though, staple items such as the Bulgogi Cheezesteak and Kimchi Bratwurst remain on the menu at all times. They aren’t going anywhere.

Check: ajumama.com.

REDWOOD WAGON

While the veteran Ajumama serves up flavors of the East to hungry Columbus customers, another relative newcomer to the scene is embracing dishes from the West. Well, the West Coast that is. Like the towering trees in the truck’s name, Redwood Wagon aims to bring large flavors to the middle of the country while capturing the bold, original culinary character of the Paci c Northwest.

While Redwood Wagon’s owner Kyle Hood is a Columbus native, he has spent a considerable amount of time on the West Coast through personal travel, where he was able to establish connections and take in some of the area’s unique cuisine.

“The Pacific Northwest is kind of a microclimate; there always seems to be summery food that’s mixed with fall.”

And in replicating this confluence of styles, Hood decided to blur some flavor boundaries in his own way—a move that yielded the exceptionally delicious savory waffle. This simple but elegant twist to a classic dish is crafted as a bowl to hold other ingredients, and is scrumptiously dotted with garlic, chives, and rosemary.

The two year-old food truck is all about getting food to their customers as fast as possible, and allowing diners full customization as well. Customers begin each order with a choice of “carry” options, including the savory waffle bowl, a regular bowl, or fresh bread. Following this, a variety of different proteins, fresh seasonal vegetables, sauces, and other accoutrements are chosen to make something that is uniquely delicious. With choices from pulled pork and pulled chicken to shredded beef and a vegan vegetable base, diners can add jalapenos, corn, caramelized onion, cole slaw, bacon, mac and cheese, and more, plus cheese and a wide variety of sauces. And if you can’t figure out just what to add, a Redwood Wagon employee can assist your custom meal by suggesting great flavor pairings.

Redwood Wagon is also a proud supporter of U.S. Servicemembers, and customers can find Hood’s father-in-law John Harden, a 26-year veteran of the Air Force, on the truck regularly.

Check: redwoodwagon.com.

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MOMMA CAN COOK

You probably have a preconceived notion of what homestyle cooking is: rich, hearty, and delicious, but without a lot of real variation of nuance. And while Momma Can Cook, the Columbus food truck, self describes its tasty cuisine as “Gourmet Homestyle,” don’t let the name fool you, owner and head chef Janeen Rogers can cook, and her truck serves up much more than typical comfort food.

Since the truck’s start she’s been serving up everything from the mouth- watering Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese, complete with a cream cheese spread and jalapeno pieces, to her Chicken Adobo Bowl, featuring chicken in a rich adobo sauce with cheesy rice, all inside of a fried tortilla bowl and topped with Pico de Gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and a dash of cilantro.

Two of Rogers’ daughters (she has four children total, and three of them—Brittany Rogers, Glen Rogers, and Brooke Stadtlander— play integral roles in Momma Can Cook, making it a family- run business in the truest sense of the phrase) are vegan, and Janeen slowly took inspiration from them, trying more and more vegan dishes, and eventually adopting the lifestyle herself in the majority of her meals.

Now, not only can patrons purchase pre-made quantities of Rogers’ vegan mac and cheese sauce (the group is attempting to sell more products from their truck alongside food, such as handmade menu boards), but as a part of “Mama’s Rollout,” an extended menu for the truck, diners can order everything from vegan gyros to vegan mac and cheese, plus much more, creating a truly unique dynamic for homestyle cooking.

“I do this vegan Mongolian bowl and it’s so good. So much so that people who aren’t even vegan order it right and left,” says Rogers. “I was thinking about taking the bowl off and I did very temporarily, and it wasn’t a good thing because everybody wanted to have it.”

With Brittany Standtlander being an American Sign language Interpreter, Rogers would like to formally welcome the Columbus deaf community to her truck with open arms as well. “I just want the deaf community to know that they can come here and be understood,” she says.

Check: facebook.com/mommacancook7.

KINETIC

And while many Columbus food trucks o er fresh seasonal veggies and healthy options, it’s rare for a truck to be built around the concept of healthy eating entirely. Enter Kinetic.

Opened in 2014 by Andy O’Brien as the product of an OSU marketing course, Kinetic was born out of what O’Brien identified as a clear gap in service, with wellness-oriented individuals wanting healthy food truck meals that they couldn’t always find.

Like several other trucks in the city, Kinetic is embracing customization. Diners begin their experience by selecting one of six “Chef-inspired builds,” including enticing options like the savory Medi, with cherry tomatoes, feta, lemon crema, chickpeas, and hummus; or the bright and spicy Stir Fire, which mixes bell peppers, cucumber carrots, jalapeno, Thai sauce, Sriracha, and lime. By grouping each option into a different flavor profile, Kinetic allows their customers to craft their own perfect dish while still allowing for guidance from the chef.

Next, customers select a base of either hearty grains, leafy greens, or roasted sweet potatoes, and the dish is completed by choosing a protein (including grilled chicken, spicy chicken, or house veggies) and throwing in any extra items that might be wanted (such as avocado, chickpeas, or extra protein).

O’Brien believes that Kinetic gives healthy options to diners who are already locked in to a wellness regimen, but through tasty, approachable preparations, the truck can also help people who might not otherwise eat well consistently.

“We’ve always been centered around providing healthy options at a reasonable price point, while making things healthy and accessible,” he says. “By accessibility, we mean that we’re easy to find, but we also mean accessible in the way that we make eating better easier for a lot of people. We’re preparing food to keep its nutritional integrity, but also in a way that it’s appealing to people who might not always eat healthy.”

Check: kineticfoodtruck.com.

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Food & Drink

10 Restaurant Week destinations for date night out

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Sometimes just getting out of the house is the priority. Other times, getting out of the house without the kids is the priority. When that time strikes, get the sitter on lock and hit the town.

Restaurant Week July 15-20 is the perfect time to reconnect with your significant other without breaking the bank. Here are our top 10 picks for date night out during Restaurant Week!

South Village Grille | 197 Thurman Ave, Columbus

South Village Grille is a romantic little spot tucked in a happening strip of Thurman Avenue. During Restaurant Week, indulge in oysters (aphrodisiac), scallops, and even pork chops. Round out your night out with beignets.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing | 215 N 4th St, Columbus

You may have been to the taproom out back, but have you dined in the front? It’s a beautiful space where beautiful food is served, like lamb racks and Black Forest Chocolate Cake.

Trillium Kitchen & Patio | 2333 N High St, Columbus

Trillium is a modern kitchen with a splendid patio, often times hosting live entertainment! Wine and dine your loved one with Trillium’s diverse wine list, tasty Restaurant Week menu, and romantic digs.

The Keep Kitchen & Liquor Bar | 50 West Broad Street Mezzanine Level, Columbus

With the watermelon salad in the first course, BBQ chicken in the second, and strawberry shortcake for the third, this summer-time menu will be the perfect seasonal date. And the dark wood ambiance will make you want to cozy up close to your date.

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The Boat House at Confluence Park | 679 W Spring St, Columbus

Suggested wine pairings with every course during Restaurant Week will help direct you and your lover down a path of sensuality. And if you’re lucky enough to get seated by the fireplace, the heat will turn up even more, literally.

M at Miranova | 2 Miranova Pl, Columbus

M recently underwent a stunning remodeling that is sure to wow your date. The menu features both surf and turf, so your taste buds will be wowed, as well.

Asterisk | 14 N State St, Westerville

This intimate supper club will really encourage you to relight the flame between you and your significant other. And with familiar favorites like ravioli, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie, you’ll go back to your roots and remember why you feel in love in the first place.

Lindey’s | 169 E Beck St, Columbus

We know it’s hot outside, but Lindey’s patio is worth the sauna experience. This restaurant is the epitome of romance and can be yours to experience for just $35 during Restaurant Week.

Spagio | 1295 Grandview Ave, Columbus

Spagio is the perfect spot for a nice dinner and, with a window on Grandview Avenue, people watching. Let the conversations flow over seafood, pastas, and prime cuts of steak during Restaurant Week.

The Market Italian Village | 1022 Summit St, Columbus

For a fun, light-hearted date with lots of character, this is your destination. Exceptional quality, outstanding service, and approachable atmosphere: The Market Italian Village.

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Newly-remodeled M at Miranova has the most unique cocktails ever

Laura Dachenbach

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After a quick spring break, M at Miranova is back and open to the public with a new look, shedding its old browns and bronzes for pops of purple and elegant, cooling grays. The 18-year-old fine dining establishment is ready to show off a beautiful wooden floor, its terrace with spectacular views of the river and the city, its lounge made for an evening of small bites, an almost complete menu change, and its new line of seasonal signature cocktails.

Two Ships (Photos by Brian Kaiser)

Developed by award-winning bartender Cris Dehlavi and the beverage team, the line showcases the classic flavors of summer: coconut, pineapple, lemon, and rum.

M at Miranova aims to welcome all, and the line covers a spectrum of tastes. There’s something for everyone at your table, from the light, refreshing oral mix to the heavier, spirits-forward drink, all with an emphasis on superb and fun presentation.

“Gone are the days of the plain old glass,” said Dehlavi from behind the bar, bringing forth her concoctions.

Magic Elixer

The appropriately-named Magic Elixir, a beautiful balance of spirits and flavors, comes to your table as a blue liquid (thanks to butter y pea tea) poured over ice and garnished with flowers. Your server will add a vial of lemon tableside and ask you to stir as chemistry turns the drink a beautiful lavender. Botanist gin and an aloe vera liqueur give the drink a taste as sophisticated and surprising as its presentation.

“There’s nothing like the look on somebody’s face when you put something down in front of them like that,” said Dehlavi.

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The AHA!, a simple and refreshing drink combines a California Brut sparkling with pineapple and coconut flavors, and comes served in light- bulb shaped glassware, a nod to its moment of creative inspiration.

“We really wanted a low-proof cocktail, and kept playing with different ideas. Nothing was working,” said Dehlavi. “My daughter loves coconut water and she had coconut water in the fridge one day and I had a swig of it […] and I thought, ‘What about pineapple liqueur, coconut water, and bubbles?’ and it worked.”

AHA!

Ordered solo, the Two Ships combines Don Pancho rum, amaro, banana, and bitters over whiskey rocks. Ordered for two (or as a taster for four), the drink comes in a globe suspended on a wooden stand containing a blown glass ship and a bit of dry ice for effect.

The creamy You’ve Met Your Matcha and the rich Great Vieux round out the summer line. Your server will snap a Polaroid of the latter, but each of the drinks plays to an audience of Instagrammers, so your own phone is welcome, too. After all, it’s an experience—an impressive, yet accessible array of cocktails, and Dehlavi notes a few are already starting to become favorites.

You’ve Met Your Matcha

“I think presentation is super-important,” said Dehlavi. “We take a real culinary approach to our cocktails. Just like a culinary approach to food, you can put a piece of salmon on a plate with some asparagus and there it is, or you can make it gorgeous. And we always think about that with cocktails, too.”

M at Miranova is at 2 Miranova Pl. To book a reservation, visit matmiranova.com.

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Get an insanely delicious dessert + a laugh at comedy bake shop coming soon

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Soon, you’ll be able to get some sweet comedy and even sweeter desserts in Old North. High on Sugar will be open in the space formerly occupied by Buffalo Exchange at 2643 N. High St. sometime in September.

The menu will feature inventive indulgences like shakes piles high with different cakes, ice creams, and toppings—all built your way.

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Entertainment will be offered daily, along with free WiFi and comfortable seating options. More details on the comedy component to surface closer to the open date.

Want to help make sure this sugar train stays on the tracks? Check out High on Sugar’s GoFundMe campaign here.

Learn more about the comedy bake shop here.

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