I don’t know how many of you know this, but there’s a Betty’s Bar that’s not part of the family of Liz Lessner restaurants. Tucked behind Huntington Park is a humble bar that probably gets patrons of the skinny jean, black-rimmed glasses variety only if a band of the Animal Collective ilk hits the stage at the LC. And maybe not even then.
Only the savviest of drinkers know that Betty’s Bar, one of Columbus’ best hidden gems, has been serving up suds and shots since 1962. Open for some concerts (sorry, Juggalos, it’s not open on April 28) and baseball and hockey games, Betty’s — which doesn’t keep set hours — truly epitomizes the phrase “hard to find, harder to leave.”
Owned and operated by Shorty, who inherited “the original Betty’s” in 1972 from her parents Russ and Betty, has kept the place a testament to what bars used to (and still should) be. There are no fruity martinis or specialty cocktails, just ice-cold beer, shots and greasy-spoon pub grub.
Shorty, a kind woman with a welcoming smile and a boisterous laugh, says a visit to Betty’s is like hanging out in somebody’s basement bar, and I couldn’t have put it better. A belly-up bar and a couple of booths are joined by a pool table, steel-tip dart board and a wood-burning fireplace that heats up during hockey season.
Domestic bottles ($2.50), a couple of imports ($3.50) and the standard liquors ($4-$6) are your potable options. If you feel so inclined, try a Bat Shot with a friend. Taking some dexterity and teamwork, two shots — I recommend whiskey or tequila — are placed next to each other inside a Louisville Slugger.
Besides the Bat Shot, the other bit of kitsch at Betty’s is Thursday Thong Night. That’s right, Thursday is the day to have a little cutie toss a couple of brews your way while she’s decked out in the skimpiest of skimpies. (Sorry fellas, I may have buried the lede on this one).
Betty’s also offers some tasty burgers, sandwiches, and chicken wings (six for $5) and tenders (three for $7.50). The Blue Jacket Burger (with blue cheese and bacon) and the Clipper Club chicken sandwich come highly recommended for the price of $6.50. Make it a meal with some hand-cut fries ($3).
Photos by Tessa Berg