Columbus Dive Bar Guide

Modern Midwestern Capital

The Columbus dive bar scene is robust, with the hardworking roots of the city merging with the world class amenities that come with being the fastest growing major city in the state. Columbus is a city of neighborhoods, ranging from the old school cool of the south-of-downtown German Village (home of Beck Tavern, among others) to Ohio State University's campus (worth a visit to the Bier Stube) to the semi-suburbs like Grandview Heights (home of Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill) that ring downtown without venturing too far away.

The built in, continuously replenished supply of students turned young professionals courtesy of Ohio State keeps the dive bar scene vibrant, supporting a variety of classic Midwestern dive-bars-in-the-middle-of-a-neighborhood. The age that hangs on some of the long-standing pockets of the city is reflected in their local dives, from the self-proclaimed Cultural Hub of the Midwest (Bob's Bar) to the actually Irish Byrne's Pub.

But the scene is not without its peril, as the sweeping growth of the city has started to encroach on previously affordable real estate, nipping at the heels of great dives like Hey Hey Bar & Grill, bordering on a swanky stretch of German Village, and perhaps the best example, Betty's Bar, a tiny dot in a piece of downtown revitalized by a series of new sports arenas, with a new soccer stadium being erected just a few feet away.

Columbus is the kind of town built for eating, drinking and doing both in bulk, experiencing some of the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and long-standing dive bars that have stood through every phase of the city's upward trajectory.

Dive Bar Map

Columbus Dive Bar Reviews

Ranked Order

Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill

Review Rating: 10 out of 10
Nestled among ranches and converted apartments on a sometimes dimly lit side street, Johnnie’s may just be the perfect Columbus dive bar.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Lisska Bar & Grill

Review Rating: 10 out of 10
Dating back to the 1930s, the Lisska Bar & Grill feels preserved since then, down to the diner menu prices.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Ruckmoor Lounge

Review Rating: 10 out of 10
The Ruckmoor Lounge is a cash-only, off-the-highway dive bar miracle, a maze of a building warmed with a main room fireplace.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Beck Tavern

Review Rating: 9 out of 10
Beck Tavern offers inexpensive beer in pleasantly cramped, beer-soaked, dive bar quarters in German Village.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Dick's Den

Review Rating: 9 out of 10
The neon sign out front reads “Why Not?,” hard to argue with when the wooden-clad Columbus dive bar interior of Dick’s Den beckons.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Dolphin Lounge

Review Rating: 9 out of 10
There’s nothing quite like drinking in grandma’s front room, an experience recreated and made even better through Midwestern karaoke.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Bob's Bar

Review Rating: 9 out of 10
Self-proclaimed or not, the Cultural Hub of the Midwest wears a dive bar exterior that houses one of the best beer selections in the state.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Char Bar

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
Sitting within a certainly haunted building that opened as a funeral parlor in 1847, Char Bar is the dive bar stalwart of downtown Columbus.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

O'Reilly's Pub

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
Home of a sunken bar that invites an interesting interpersonal dynamic between standing patron and eye-level bartender.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Meister's Bar

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
Home of Columbus’ finest deep-dish pizza, Meister’s Bar is a dive bar between neighborhoods, a pizza oasis among offices and side streets.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Johnnie's Tavern

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
A dive bar that feels hidden in plain sight, Johnnie’s Tavern is a squat, white, nondescript neighborhood burger oasis.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Ruby Tuesday Live

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
No, not that Ruby Tuesday. Built around a vintage walk-in cooler, Ruby Tuesday Live sits the right distance away from OSU campus.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Bier Stube

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
The last vestige of Ohio State’s south campus dive bar scene, the Bier Stube holds court from a liquor store parking lot. In a good way.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Betty's Bar

Review Rating: 8 out of 10
With carpeted bathrooms and a theme night to be experienced, Betty’s has earned its affectionate “Dirty Betty’s” dive bar nickname.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Out-R-Inn

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Out-R-Inn has so far escaped the spotlight of progress, a hollowed-out brick & wood plank dive bar palace perfect for absorbing domestic beer.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

St. James Tavern

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
St. James Tavern really commits to wood paneling, making for a warming dive bar experience in a building that looks only slightly abandoned.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Short North Tavern

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Columbus' Short North district is now a glossy, upscale area, but Short North Tavern persists as an approachable, divey alternative.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Mickey's

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Dive bar karaoke king of Columbus, Mickey’s is more than the sum of its parts, creating communal experiences that fog up the windows.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

High Beck Tavern

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
High Beck Tavern provides dive bar coziness, a space pulled together by classic hardwood floors, exposed brick and steep basement stairs.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Byrne's Pub

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Byrne’s bucks the fake Irish pub stereotype with live Irish music, the smallest stage in Columbus and a pizza hole. Yep, a pizza hole.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Rehab Tavern

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Columbus' Franklinton is the classic up & coming area, Rehab Tavern an emblem of its recent rise with a rough edge or two.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Zeno's

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Heavily residential Harrison West makes a perfect backdrop for one of Columbus' purest corner neighborhood bars.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Ledo's Tavern

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
Serving the timeless combination of pizza and darts, Ledo's Tavern has catered to Ohio State students since the 1950s.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Eldorado's Food & Spirits

Review Rating: 7 out of 10
With a theme night every day of the month and every possible dive bar attribute, Eldorado’s is the classic Midwest dive experience.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Hey Hey Bar & Grill

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Hey Hey straddles between dive bar and respectable tavern while straddling the Columbus neighborhoods of German Village & Merion Village.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Brew-Stirs Clintonville Tavern

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Brew-Stirs is a rectangle in the best sense of the word, a simple layout underneath one of the epically beautiful dive bar signs of all time.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Mike's Grill

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Part of the upscale Short North in Columbus, Mike’s Grill provides a needed dose of authenticity, a dive bar serving up jello shots and 40’s.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

The Thirsty Scholar

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Along the northern edge of Ohio State University’s campus, The Thirsty Scholar anchors a dive bar, pizza place, gas station trifecta.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

The Library Bar

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Tricking parents for nearly 50 years, the Library Bar remains an untouched dive bar beacon of Ohio State’s north campus area.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Oldfield's North Fourth Tavern

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Some kind of alliance between craft beer and classic campus dive bar, Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern feels a world away from Ohio State campus.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Pointe Tavern

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
Pointe Tavern is a dependable dive bar neighborhood haunt anchoring a lightly-trafficked strip mall oasis in Columbus.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

India Oak Grill

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
The India Oak Grill is a slice of vintage Clintonville, a prototype neighborhood dive bar if ever there was one.
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Brew-Stirs Beechwold Tavern

Review Rating: 6 out of 10
More a sports pub than a dive bar, Beechwold Tavern extends the Brew-Stirs brand on ex-Zuey’s ground.

Columbus Bar Crawls

Bier Stube - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Ohio State Campus

College without the crippling debt.

Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior

German Village

Beer amongst the brick-laid streets.

Mickey's Dive Bar Columbus

Grandview Heights

Sneaky divey near-suburb.

Bier Stube - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Short North Columbus

Short North sans pretension.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior

Old North Columbus

Eclectic in-between district.

Columbus Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Campus

Varsity Club

278 W Lane Ave
Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map

Other Dive Bar Options

Reader Submitted

Bullshotz

1616 Brown Rd
Columbus, OH 43223
Google Map

Reader Submitted

Double Happiness

482 S Front St
Columbus, OH 43215
Google Map

Reader Submitted

Dub Pub

5736 Frantz Rd
Dublin, OH 43016
Google Map

Reader Submitted

Planks on Parsons

743 Parsons Ave
Columbus, OH 43206
Google Map

Café Bourbon Street

2216 Summit St
Columbus, OH 43201
Google Map

Lovell's Tavern

4265 Alum Creek Dr
Columbus, OH 43207
Google Map

What Did We Miss?

4 + 3 =