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Get your eat on before these pop-ups are gone for the winter

There’s something about a pop-up that makes the food and drinks they offer just taste better. Maybe it’s the ephemerality of it all, knowing the spot you’re eating in isn’t permanent, or maybe it has more to do with their cool kid energy, as many pop-ups are vibrant, new restaurants without a permanent home yet.

Either way, we’re all for them, and we think you should be too. This winter has no shortage of fun and flavor either, with numerous must-try spots throughout the booming Columbus food scene. Check out this list and grab it while you can.

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Fried Chicka Bang

Out of Sunny Street Cafe 

Right from the start I’m going to issue an official warning to stay away from the Instagram account of Fried Chicka Bang if you’re hungry. It will drive you certifiably insane.

This new pop-up operating out of Sunny Street Cafe in Polaris (open from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., between Wednesday and Sunday) was started by a trio of sisters slinging massive fried chicken sandwiches and salads (plus decadent house-made sauces), utilizing only fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch.

And if you’re thinking it might not be worth a trek up to Polaris just to grab a chicken sandwich, I have something to say: you’re wrong.

From the Hotstepper, a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich (complete with pickles and ranch), to the searing Ghostface–with ghost pepper baste, ancho shake, chipotle mayo, and blistered jalapeno–and the eclectic Choo Choo, incorporating black sesame shake, gochujang mayo, and sweet and spicy slaw, this chicken you definitely don’t want to miss.

Miracle Pop-up Bar

Above Veritas, 11 W. Gay St.

What does a 14-foot tall inflatable igloo have in common with a towering, 11-foot likeness of the Grinch? 

The answer is the Columbus installment of Miracle, a hip, engaging worldwide network of seasonal pop-up bars. 

And while COVID-19 throws some cold water on this scorchingly-popular holiday spot, Miracle is still one of the most unique and energetic social spots in the city, bar or otherwise.

“It’s a blast, and something we look forward to every year,” said Lindsey Gerhardt, bar manager of Miracle Columbus and The Citizens Trust, where the pop-up is located (above Veritas). “It just feels like a fun party every night; and there’s a different clientele too. People bring their families, and some even come from deep in the suburbs.”

Miracle, now on its third year in Columbus, truly goes all-out on the decor, and it’s a sight to see. From the aforementioned novelties to a full-size Christmas tree, a litany of winter trinkets, and atmospheric, engaging lighting, you won’t want to leave. Their wonderful festive drink offerings, with both cold and hot options, will likely keep you around as well.

Where it All Vegan

Multiple locations

Since some of the other pop-up restaurants on our list are meat-heavy, it just makes sense to include a vegan option. But don’t get it twisted, Where it All Vegan didn’t get a mention here just because their fare is animal-free, it got one because it offers great food.

Billed as vegan soul food, Where it All Vegan is a mobile pop-up operating out of a food trailer that moves between an OSU campus location (1680 N. High St.) on Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Virtue Salon (3282 N. High St.) on Saturday, from noon until 5 p.m. The eatery is closed Monday through Thursday.

Their signature dish is a meatless take on hot wings called Chik’n Wingz that utilize a soy-based protein encased in crispy breading. And there are no shortages of vegan wing sauces either, as diners can pick between, garlic parmesan, Jamacian jerk, mango habanero, spicy Buffalo, and sweet BBQ. 

There’s more where that came from as well. Other dishes such as wraps, salads, and their Chik’n sandwich, which piles your choice of Chik’n Wingz onto a brioche bun with crisp veggies and drizzle of dairy-free ranch, make this a spot you’ll want to catch every weekend.

Black Box Fix

Locations TBD

The first time I tried Black Box Fix, I experienced a bonafide where-have-you-been-all-my-life food moment. 

Soon, you won’t have to trek all the way to Cleveland for the same thing.

While the eatery’s creative, often cajun-inspired decadence is coming with a new restaurant  to Easton Town Center later in 2021, you’ll be able to try out some of their more popular items at several pop-up events that will likely hit Columbus in January.

Although according to head chef and owner Eric Rogers, the restaurant is still mulling locations for what he says will be multiple winter pop-ups, he did confirm that patrons will be able to dive into the majority of signature items from Black Box Fix.

Rogers plan to offer the now-iconic OMG Philly, which features grilled chicken and creole shrimp with mushrooms, onion, peppers, and swiss cheese, all served on a hoagie roll with specialty house mayo; the OMG 2.0 that adds buttered lobster; and the OMG 3.0, including grilled chicken, steak, and fried lobster.

And you’ll need a side of Stoner Fries with that as well, which heap steak, lobster, onions, peppers, cajun cheese sauce, and scallions over fresh, hot fries. 

You can thank us later for the tip on this one.

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