Come for deep dish, stay for the Bird’s Nest.
For those who haven’t visited, Meister’s Bar can be hard to find thanks to its oddly placed side street location that sits in between Columbus near-suburbs, an area technically labeled Fifth by Northwest but affectionately and lazily referred to more often as “somewhere near Grandview.” Thankfully, Meister’s Bar sits atop a short hill, making it easy to spot once its street can be located, a dive bar in a red, converted house among office buildings and fresh new-build condos.
As dive bars go, Meister’s Bar is a fresh phenomenon, opened in 2010 by cousins Matt and Todd Meister in a space previously occupied by Amicons Bar. The Columbus dive bar’s deeply Germanic sign soars above the building reminiscent of a flag pole, a white sign with red lettering featuring a pair of German steins. Parking is available in the small lot behind the bar and across a few spaces in front, though busy nights can quickly soak up available spots. Not to be missed is the massive Jagermeister-themed mural that runs nearly the length of the building that can be seen from the rear parking lot, a siren song for a German-flavored dive bar if ever there were one.
One of the Meister’s Bar calling cards is its pizza kitchen that offers one of Columbus’ only Chicago-style deep dish pizzas. Though the wait can be lengthy on busy nights, the pizzas here are legit, faithfully constructed in the Chicago style and pleasantly drowned in a delicious sauce. Every Columbus pizza fan has at one time or another made the pilgrimage to Meister’s to sample its deep dish pie and that pilgrimage is often well rewarded. Not to be overlooked is the sneakily amazing buffalo chicken bread appetizer that comes as a large pizza-sized pillow of dough caked with toppings that must be tried to be fully understood.
There just so happens to be a great dive bar attached to the pizza kitchen as well, the Meister’s Bar specials board reading like a dream of affordable drinking. Most popular is the Thursday night $1 can special that trots out a series of classic, reliable domestic beers for that low, low price point (Busch Light, Natural Light, Stroh’s, Old Milwaukee, Hamm’s, Blatz, Genesee Cream Ale and this reviewer’s favorite, Black Label, are all eligible). The Monday $1 7-ounce High Life deal and the $2 PBR tallboy Tuesday special are also popular nightly selections.
The signature shot here is the White Meister, a concoction modeled after a White Spider shot that consists of heavily shaken Rumplemintz (don’t worry, they’re on special every Saturday). Drinks are distributed from the corner, L-shaped bar caked with dollar bills, mirrored beer signs and the occasional Brittany Spears album cover. The beer selection here expanded on its domestic beer base into a handful of local craft tap offerings and a range of coolers filled with beers a little higher up the quality food chain.
Short tables bolted to the floor provide the balance of seating outside of the bar itself, a handful of spots available before the bar’s pair of pool tables command the balance of the space. The path to the bathroom includes a pinball machine, the pizza ordering window and a short staircase up to what is sometimes affectionately referred to as the Bird’s Nest, a small elevated room that houses the Meister’s dart board and looks out onto the main space through a metal fence.
Of course, as is tradition for a Midwestern dive bar, the full space is covered in wood paneling, from main bar to Bird’s Nest, creating a feeling of warmth complemented by the hardwood throughout the first floor. The patio in front, boxed in during winter months, is typically the smoking spot, but does offer a nice, lofted drinking perch when Ohio weather cooperates.
Meister’s is an intriguing dive bar in an out-of-the-way, converted red house on a hill. And that semi-seclusion amplifies the feeling that Meister’s Bar is a discovery, its high quality deep dish pizza, elevated dart room, dollar bill-covered walls and $1 can nights a surprising and compelling combination of dive bar amenities difficult to beat.