Classic Columbus Haunts: Old Mohawk Cafe

From the 10/06/2010 edition

First meal served: 1933

Down Memory Lane: Almost assuredly a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the vintage brick building on the corner of Mohawk and Kossuth became a legitimate gin mill as quickly as possible with the repeal of that "what-were-we-thinking?" experiment. Back then, the joint was called Elks Tavern, for owner Myles Elk, an immensely fat man said to have raised turtles in the basement for the place's popular turtle soup.

The tavern's name changed to the Mohawk Grill in 1947 when Elk passed on to that great saloon in the sky. After briefly becoming "Tiffany's" in the '70s, it claimed its much better, present-day title. 

Between the aisles: That classic German Village look - brick walls, local art, accumulated clutter and a loopy sense of humor - pervades the comfy-as-your-favorite-sneakers Old Mohawk. There's also a standout photo of a squatting Myles, a distinguishing horseshoe-shaped bar and (fittingly) a Tiffany lamp with happy prancing turtles on it.

On the plate: Turtle Soup, of course (tastes like a homey beef and veggie, with only a hint of sea creature); thick and crisp cheese and bacon-covered house fried kettle chips; the duly famous Mother Mohawk sandwich (roast beef and superior house-made chicken salad); and terrific bratwurst sandwiches starring brats made in Bucyrus (home of the Bratwurst Festival!).