What do great live music and fresh, inventive TexMex food have in common? Besides being two of my favorite things, the answer we’re looking for is Crunchwerks.
If you haven’t heard of the new Summit Avenue eatery, you’re probably not alone. The spot—run as a delivery and curbside pickup-only cloud kitchen—officially opened just one week ago, on Jan. 1.
And while a vegan-friendly TexMex restaurant doesn’t need anything else going for it to have my attention, part of what makes Crunchwerks truly unique goes beyond the food.
The eatery’s founders, Trey Burris, Rob Chafin, and Chris Salvato, all have strong ties to the Columbus music scene. Chafin plays drums for the nationally-touring band The Werks and Salvato, acting as touring sound engineer for Rusted Root while running Weird Music Studio in Columbus. The trio also owns and operates The Summit Music Hall, which is located exactly one building south of the new restaurant.
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“We created Summit Music Hall in October of 2019, but due to the pandemic, we had to shut things down temporarily,” Chafin said. “But we’re still paying rent at our venue in order to maintain it, so we decided to shift and create a carryout and delivery cloud kitchen.”
Salvato agreed. “We’re all here because of the music and [it’s] our will to keep live music coming to Columbus for a long time.”
But just because Crunchwerks was launched as a creative pivot to keep the Summit afloat doesn’t mean they take its business any less seriously.
“Absolutely we plan on taking this way past the pandemic,” Chafin said of the new restaurant. “We want to take this to the next level and give people quality dining options.”
Oh, and did we mention the food is really, really good?
With a menu spearheaded by head chef Mysti Burris, Crunchwerks offers a unique blend of freshness and indulgence that’s both approachable and familiar but also fun and inventive.
“My flavor profile for food is the bolder the better,” Burris said. “I really love when fresh ingredients come together and compliment each other, and in my opinion there’s no other food that does this better than TexMex.”
In addition to sneaky-good house-made wings, fajita quesadillas, and a slate of TexMex-themed bowls (packed with rice, your choice of protein, and a list of delectable salsas), what the University District spot is most known for is its array of Crunches.
With layers of meat, cheese, fresh veggies, and salsas sandwiching a crispy tostada that’s all wrapped together in a grilled flour tortilla, their Crunches are the gourmet reworking of a certain popular TexMex fast food item that we’ve all been waiting for. These come in a variety of different preparations, with the most popular being the OG Crunch (your choice of protein, pico de gallo, house jalapeno queso, shredded romaine, and sour cream).
Additionally, any of their Crunch options can also be served as a bowl.
Another plus for the new TexMex spot is their dedication to offering (truly comparable) vegan and vegetarian versions of every dish they offer other than their C.W. Wings.
“It’s a huge passion of mine to bring food to people, but I want our customers to know the chef really cares,” Burris said. “We also want to make sure the menu is super inclusive for everybody and any food needs.”