Less divey post-renovation but authentically Irish.
Finding an authentic Irish pub is often more difficult than it may seem, Columbus notorious for its slim selection outside of national chains. Byrne’s Pub is the best Irish bar in the city, a Grandview neighborhood dive bar opened in 1995 by brothers Patrick, Richard and Brian Byrne. Yes, there is an epic St. Patrick’s Day party to be discussed, but maybe more important is the weekly dose of Celtic music that graces the small stage in the bar’s secondary space, a sign of Irish pub authenticity.
Columbus’ Grandview neighborhood is well suited to hidden gems, bars and restaurants often embedded in the near-suburb’s residential blocks. Byrne’s Pub fits the mold, a brick building with signature green awning and matching illuminated sign perched on one of the neighborhood’s main intersections. A small parking lot wraps around the building, green shamrocks spray painted on the asphalt in spots to set the mood.
Renovations to Byrne’s Pub have resulted in a bit more polish to the interior space than years past, the refinished surfaces and all-new ceiling likely too nice to label Byrne’s a dive bar anymore. But the atmosphere benefits from the elevation of the experience, the vibe now in line with a comfortable, neighborhood Irish pub rather than Irish-themed dive. Left intact, thankfully, is the free popcorn machine in the corner of the floorplan, the smell preserving the familiar feeling of entering Bryne’s Pub.
In a Columbus Irish bar founded by three brothers, it comes as no surprise that the walls are covered in family photos, vintage shots depicting generations of Byrne’s, again adding that welcoming, neighborhood touch to the space. A long bar commands the Byrne’s Pub main room, green lamps illuminating a set of 12 tap beers and the expected assortment of liquor, heavy on Irish whiskey of course. Co-owner Patrick Byrne went so far as to found his own Irish whiskey brand in 2020 with partner Martin Kennedy, an ex-Irish whiskey brand ambassador. The brand, Bua Irish Whiskey, is of course served here and can be found in liquor stores throughout the city.
Prime seating can be found in the padded booths near the bar’s front door, adjacent to the popcorn machine and a set of windows that looks out onto Grandview’s bustling Third Avenue. These spots fill up quickly, a handful of high-top tables (some of them immovable) available throughout this main room offering alternative seating in addition to the beer ledges that line parts of the wall between rooms. A large booth anchors a small alcove next to the bar, an interior archway leading to the bar’s bathrooms and video games.
A long secondary space includes a number of low tables as well as the elevated stage that hosts Celtic music every Saturday night (check for a cover charge) as well as the always-free Bluegrass happy hour that takes place each Friday. Live music, especially on Saturdays, tends to pack the house, the low tables absorbed by those attracted to authentic Irish performances. This commitment to music extends to the Byrne’s Pub St. Patrick’s Day celebration, an annual event said to draw thousands of visitors over the course of multiple days that takes place under a temporary tent erected in the bar’s parking lot.
Food options are flush at Byrne’s Pub, the kitchen in the rear of the space producing high quality food that ranges from Irish classics to burgers to wings across a fairly diverse menu. Byrne’s also sits adjacent to local Columbus mini-chain Grandad’s Pizza, one of Columbus’ better pizza joints. More interesting is the “pizza portal” that links to the two establishments, enabling the delivery of a pizza purchased at Granddad’s through the hole between the two businesses.
Nestled in one of Columbus’ cozier near-suburbs, Byrne’s Pub is the best possible kind of Irish pub, an unassuming dive bar-like atmosphere mixed with authentic live music and ample Guinness on tap (poured correctly, of course). That combination is hard to find anywhere, let alone in Columbus, making Byrne’s Pub an attractive destination with the added allure of legit Celtic music and shepherd’s pie.