Although nicknamed “the biggest small town in America”, Columbus is home to a rich set of neighborhoods, including the German Village, Arena District, and the trendy Short North, which display a cultural palimpsest of German, Italian and Latino influences in their restaurants. Delve deeper and you’ll see that Columbus has a thriving nightlife too – just take a look at the 10 best bars in the area.
Great live music seems to come naturally to Columbus, with bars such as the Woodlands Tavern leading the way in displaying local, as well as national talent. Although the bar is separate from the music venue, the good vibes flow throughout. Look out for fantastic deals during happy hour, and be sure to head to Mikey’s Late Night Slice across the street for a late-night snack.
Celebrate Columbus’ strong German roots at Hofbräuhaus Columbus, where steins are raised, polkas are danced, and yodels can be heard. Enjoy Munich’s pride and joy – its 400-year-old Hofbräuhaus beer – and its complementary table-mates; baked pretzel, sauerkraut, and würst.
For a smaller music venue, try Double Happiness in Columbus’s Brewery District. With a uniquely hip Chinatown feel, Double Happiness caters to a trendier crowd who don’t mind getting up close to dance. With cheap drinks, great bands, and a beautiful and expansive outdoor patio, this bar is definitely one of the best dive bars in the city.
Seventh Son Brewery Company
With their spacious garage-turned-taproom, Seventh Son Brewing Company has been restoring the Italian Village, a once downtrodden part of Columbus, with its youthful vigor through the medium of genuinely delicious craft beer. The taproom is just one hangout found in the brewery – check out the front patio and the stationary food truck parked nearby too, where hearty gastro-pub favorites are served up. Be sure to try the Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale and the American Strong Ale for an adventure that’s loaded with hops.
Located on the Scioto River downtown, with fantastic views of the lighted fountains of Scioto Mile, Milestone 229 brings an unparalleled level of class to the Columbus food and drink scene. Offering a menu of American fare with regional influences, Milestone 229 is the perfect date night establishment in which to enjoy small plates and expertly mixed cocktails, like the Manhattan project, the cilantro and peach julep, and the bacon-wrapped wild gulf shrimp.
Curio at Harvest
Few bars can pull off what Curio at Harvest has perfected; functioning as the bar in a restaurant-bar combination that leads patrons to discover all-new combos of cocktails and food. With its intimate L-shaped bar and dim, candle-lit atmosphere, Curio at Harvest serves up excellent artisan drinks next to the classic fare of the Harvest Pizzeria, Columbus’s premier pizza location.
Barcelona brings a little Spanish flair to Columbus’ German Village. Featuring an extensive wine and cocktail list, along with a chic interior and a relaxing outdoor patio, Barcelona is the perfect gathering place after a week of work. Be sure to sample from Barcelona’s tapas tasting menu, including the popular verde rellena, with stuffed collard greens, lamb, saffron rice, pisto, cranberry gastrique, and toasted quinoa, or opt to share one of the many Spanish paellas with friends.
The Old Mohawk
Come to The Old Mohawk for the comfortable atmosphere, the cold draft beer, and the legendary bratwurst sandwiches. Exuding an obvious German heritage, The Old Mohawk is a place where patrons instantly feel like regulars – it just feels like home. Be sure to have the bratwurst dinner, with Carles of Bucyrus bratwurst and sautéed onions, sauerkraut and swiss cheese, with a side of potato pancakes, sour cream, and caraway sauce.
For a high-energy evening in Columbus’s hip Short North neighborhood check out Skully Music Diner. Part club, part Midwestern diner, Skully’s manages to do it all. With a U-shaped bar and plenty of neon, low-hanging lamps, and a wide dance floor and stage, this establishment seems like it could hail from a much larger city. The ladies 80’s night is very popular, and so are the discounted Skully’s burgers on Tuesdays.
Local Bar Short North
The eclectic Local Bar Short North definitely has everything needed for an unexpected night out – furry walls, a fake fireplace, and all the craft beer you can drink. Calling this bar a dive would be off the mark, as its purposefully placed pinball machine and Pacman arcade game transcend the title somewhat. Try draft beer from Ohioan breweries Seventh Son and Jackie O’s, and be sure to bring a group to enjoy the unique ambiance inside.
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