Soul at the Joseph by Brian Kaiser

Setting the Bar

Your friends have probably said “Hey, let’s go to this cool bar.”

But how many times do they say, “Let’s go sit at this cool bar?”

For many, it’s just a place to sit while you sip, and as long as the drinks are flowing, it might as well be the bathroom. It’s just there to hold up
your pint.

Or, for weirdos like me, it’s the bar that makes the bar. It’s the place you prefer to eat, a perfect way to chat up strangers or the bartender, and sometimes the best people-watching spot in the joint.

Here’s a tribute to the 10 most inviting/unique/comfortable/cool/classic bars you can belly up
to in Columbus.

Lindey’s by Collins Laatsch

Lindey’s • 169 E Beck St.

When it comes to some of the finest service in the city, an awe-inspiring patio, and consistently stellar food, it might be easy to overlook one of the more underrated aspects of the German Village mainstay. Under the backlit wine bottles on display, waited on by the impeccably dressed bar staff, we find something just a little bit cozy and casual about slipping in for a quick cocktail whilst the busy dining room rushes behind you. Grab some of the best French Onion soup in town for a quick fill-up. Let’s call it Epicurean, Express.

Beck Tavern • 284 E Beck St.

At … the  …. dark end of the street…is often where you can find Stock & Barrel’s staff after hours. Affectionately known to regulars as “Low” Beck, the bar is essentially the entire establishment, its shape filling up most of the small, memorabilia-decked space. You can keep an eye on whoever’s on the other side of the bar, order a pizza from anywhere right to your seat, and maybe could even throw a dart or two from there, too—just ask Mike or Jenn for permission first.

Soul at the Joseph • 620 N High St.

Just like at Lindey’s, sneaking into the bar here feels like getting away with some discount decadence. Even if your pockets are a little less deep than the top-shelf travelers lodging in the Le Meridien hotel, you can still set up shop at the lobby’s pristine marble top, basking in the massive flat-screen hovering above it. Snag some cajun confit wings and a Toki-O Highball, sleep in your own bed with enough left over for a solid tip.

St. James Tavern • 1057 N Fourth St.

No TVs. Sort of a window. Tons of tap handles and one of the best jukeboxes in town, not to mention the grandparents-house-like wood paneling, the Saint is the perfect place to disappear for a little or long while. You could retire to the side room for pool and Pac-Man, which is all fine and good, but most days, you’d be well-served to sidle up the the bar, shooting the shit with owner Michelle or any of the establishment’s other wise,
weary bartenders.

Rehab Tavern • 456 W Town St.

While High Street might be cleaning up all the dive bars that still remain, Rehab Tavern is sticking to their roots. The blue-collar art bar on Town St. is simple. There’s a plethora of local and non-local options on draft as long as the keg doesn’t run dry, and if it does, they have plenty of back up beer options in a can. The interior and patio features a limited seating options, and you won’t have to waste much time finding an opponent for the pool table. The food menu is small as it offers bites like cheese stix for $5.25, and if nothing is really popping out at you, ClusterTruck delivers to the area and they have a little bit of everything, from tacos to Thai red curry bowls for your tipsy and hungry heart.

The Hey Hey Bar & Grill • 361 E Whittier St.

Going to the Hey Hey is just as much of a treat of grabbing drinks as it is a place of community. While the bar is stocked with local craft brews like BrewDog Elvis Juice or Rhinegeist Truth, the minute you step up to the bar you are greeted and introduced to the bartender, Pat. He’s not your typical bartender in the sense that he isn’t just slinging drinks—he’s making connections. Sure, he’ll make sure your pint glass never stays empty, but he’s also taking the time to get to know each and everyone of his patrons on a first name basis. That’s not something you can get at any old bar. Even if the Hey Hey only served warm Coors Light on Tuesdays, popping into spend a few minutes with Pat is worth it enough.

Oddfellows Liquor Bar • 1038 N High St.

With a floor and bartop made of century-old recovered hardwood from Louisiana, you know Oddfellows is big on throwbacks. But though their style borrows heavily from tradition and vintage accoutrements, their style is all their own. There’s the Beerador, a cask-shaped beer refrigerator from 1916 that was one of the first beer refrigerators in existence. The ancient, hand-carved bar was brought in from Cincinnati, and has a history all its own. Then there’s the giant, hypnotic, perfectly round, bared boob of the larger-than-life, wooden carved bust of the lady of the night that catches our eye every time (looking at the Lushie machine, we swear). There’s so much to look at while you’re there for trivia, drunk spelling bees, or just to sip some cocktails with your fellow strange birds. We take comfort in knowing we’re not the only weirdo there. With mannequin legs sticking out of a clawfoot bathtub, barely frosted windows in the single-person bathroom doors, and the most dog-friendly attitude in the city, Oddfellows know who they want to patronize their bar, and they’re not afraid to be themselves.

Citizens Trust • 11 W Gay St.

Cozy and casual it is not, but the former bank is unrivaled as far as its wide-open splendor above the new downtown Veritas space. It’s part lounge, part luxury, and like its sister restaurant, the capable and creative bartenders are more than happy to steer you in the direction of a new favorite. Special shoutout to Logan Demmy, Columbus’s erstwhile bar star, just returned from a few years’ sojourn wowing guests at 28 Hongkong Street in Singapore, where he helped them earn Best Bar in Asia in 2015.

Dick’s Den • 2417 N High St.

Here at Stock & Barrel, we abhor pretense. And this means that Dick’s Den is right up our alley. There’s nothing fancy about Dick’s, and that’s how we like it. Our favorite point about this bar is that our parents used to hang out there, and we’re fairly certain that nothing has changed in the decades since. The stage is set nearly every night of the week with the sharpest chops in music playing jazz, and some of the best bluegrass in the city. The photos lining the walls tell of local lives well-lived, and generations of people who have played on the pool table behind the stage. The intimate floor space means you’ll be dancing with your neighbor in no time.

Zeno’s by Megan Leigh Barnard

Zeno’s Bar • 384 W Third St.

It takes a village to run a bar, and no better example serves than Zeno’s, who’ve been keeping Vic Vill real for 37 years. Did you know they have the longest bar in Columbus? Is that official in any way? Probably not. No matter. Swing by on a Sunday sit down next to a long line of regulars in Game Day gear, enough room for fans of damn near the entire AFC. Order a Dick Allen, in honor of a recently lost legend in the city’s bar industry and thanks us (eight hours, and several beers) later.