High Beck Tavern

Columbus, Ohio

High Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Sign

Field Rating


out of 10

Seriously watch your step on those basement stairs.

The Basics

564 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215



In Short

Just south of downtown, High Beck Tavern (not to be confused with nearby Beck Tavern) sits on the edge of the city’s Brewery District and German Village, two of Columbus’ best walking areas. The location makes for a great pre-exploration destination enhanced by ping pong, free coneys on Tuesdays and a challengingly steep basement bathroom stair descent.

Field Note

Locked in eternal partnership with nearby Columbus dive bar Beck Tavern, High Beck Tavern at least offers the courtesy of including the building’s cross streets in its name. A few blocks away from Beck Tavern, High Beck sits at, predictably, the corner of High Street & Beck Street on the edge of the city’s German Village and Brewery District neighborhoods. A bit less divey than its nearby neighbor, High Beck offers a prime location along Columbus’ main north-south corridor, a small corner bar surrounded by ample things to do.

High Back Tavern’s blue awning provides a surefire landmark to look for, the bar occupying half of a near-downtown building that has over the years been shared with a number of different bar and restaurant concepts. Stable though is High Beck Tavern, opened in 1921 and sometimes referred to as High Beck Corner Tavern thanks to its location. Two entrances exist here, the first off of the small patio underneath the aforementioned blue awning that houses a handful of picnic tables and usually a smoker or two.

Bordering the eternally desirable German Village, the Brewery District is named in predictable fashion thanks to the historical concentration of microbreweries.

The fortunes of High Beck Tavern have in some part coincided with and ultimately endured the rise and fall of popularity of Columbus’ Brewery District. Bordering the eternally desirable German Village, the Brewery District is named in predictable fashion thanks to the historical concentration of microbreweries once native to the area. Breweries since that time have come and gone, the neighborhood now a fairly attractive destination thanks to business like High Beck Tavern providing a near constant draw to such a central Columbus location.

The side entrance includes a secondary sign over the door, this one spelled “Hi Beck” and the cause for the use of that spelling on occasion online. This wooden sign is one of the lowkey best dive bar signs in the city, the painted wood a standout in contrast to the usual illuminated or neon dive bar sign. In true divey fashion, the door here looks a bit intimidating as a metal, industrial-looking contraption underneath a set of opaque glass blocks that allow a scant amount of light inside.

Entering the side door means setting foot into High Beck’s pool table slash ping-pong alley, the area converted over the years to function more and more as a ping pong table as the popularity of High Beck as a ping pong destination has grown. From this back end of the bar, the space unfolds in an L-shaped brick-laden, string light-covered prototypical dive bar, the bar counter wrapping around the bend in the L to provide a fair amount of bar stool availability.

Entering the side door means setting foot into High Beck’s pool table slash ping-pong alley.

The south wall of the interior features a lattice-work Christmas light display that provides the trademark glow to the space. Underrated is the front booth built into the windowed wall that looks out onto High Street, a cramped space for more than two, but probably worth the experience to wedge a few more into the narrow wooden seats. Nearly hidden behind the bar is a small kitchen that cranks out typical dive bar staples like burgers, sandwiches, subs and pizza. On occasion (usually a Tuesday), the kitchen in back also provides free hot dogs or coneys to the assembled crowd as a means of drawing in visitors on slow evenings.

A handful of low tables sit across from the bar, the space curling into a second room that doubles as the path to the basement bathrooms. An area best described as a dart board hallway lives along that same path, the bar’s best graffiti scrawled over the brick and board area. The bathrooms are worth the visit, the doors of which have long been labeled “Nasty Women” and “Bad Hombres.” Do take care on the steps, as they are steep and seem even more so after a long evening.

The part of Columbus that surrounds High Beck Tavern is one of the city’s most compelling, the combination of the Brewery District and German Village providing an attractive backdrop to perhaps Columbus’ best walking area. A free coney doesn’t hurt, of course, but the draw to High Beck Tavern is that classic corner neighborhood vibe that fits perfectly with its surrounding neighborhood, a bit of ping pong and graffiti mixed in for good measure.

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