Because sometimes a High Life and fried bologna is the perfect combo.
Chillicothe is one of the great representations of Ohio outside of the state’s megacities, an authentic, hardworking, tradition-steeped area with a classic downtown that looks just as you’d hope it would. Every town like Chillicothe has a spot like Paint Grill, a no-frills dive bar-diner combo that serves as a communal collecting point at all hours of the day.
Just south of Chillicothe’s downtown hub, Paint Grill occupies a short building wedged among residences that dot the city’s main north-south road as it winds out of town. Ohio dive bar exteriors don’t come any simpler than Paint Grill where bright red wooden slats line the building under a short, sloped overhang. Parking available in back leads to the door most used by regulars, but a street-side door is wedged into a small recess in the structure, almost hidden from view.
Inside, Paint Grill is a meld of cinder block and wood paneling, the space centered around a small, flattop grill and a winding bar that juts out to accommodate expanded bar-side seating. All of Paint Grill’s signature items can be traced back to the flattop grill behind the bar, most notably a tenderloin sandwich that pushes the definition of a sandwich by extending the amount of meat provided well beyond the boundaries of the bun that accompanies the deep fried pork.
Other specialties like breakfast sandwiches, fried bologna sandwiches and a double patty hamburger favorite named the Papermaker round out the versatile menu that accommodates Paint Grill’s long opening hours typically ranging from 9 AM to as late as 1 AM on weekends. This is a dive bar and grill hybrid built for locals, to be sure, but the vibe is welcoming and the extended amount of bar seating can make for a social experience. Paint Grill’s focus on locals and regulars can be seen in an event calendar that mostly revolves around Wednesday food specials but also includes signature events such as the annual potluck lunch during the Ohio State vs. Michigan game.
As might be expected from an Ohio dive bar only a handful of miles from Columbus, the décor is dominated by Ohio State memorabilia, down to the color scheme of the grey painted cinder blocks and red trim accents throughout. Three barrel tops extend from a portion of the wall behind the bar in support of Paint Grill’s beer taps and a refrigerator in the center of the space serves mostly as home to chilled mugs (one of the great dive bar pleasures in life).
While most of the space has been modernized over the years with fresh paint and a commitment to clean spaces, the bar itself shows the pleasant wear and tear of years of patronage. Wood paneling behind the bar and accompanying, old school-style cabinets underneath contrast well against otherwise smoothly painted features within Paint Grill. Low tables fill in the space around the bar, just as easily accommodating a lunch rush as late night communal drinking.