The Buckeyes make their triumphant return to the turf this Saturday — and this time, they’ve got no less than Urban Meyer at the helm. That can only mean that more eyes than usual will be tuned to Buckeye Nation all season. Do yourself a favor and find a comfortable seat, a cold beer and a basket of smokin’ wings to go with that adoration. We found 25 great spots to catch all the games this season. If you hurry, you can make it to all of them before the season closer on Nov. 24.
Story by: Chris DeVille, Jackie Mantey, John Ross, Kristen Schmidt and Jesse Tigges
Gallo’s Tap Room
5019 Olentangy River Rd., Northwest Side
Gallo’s is known for its impressive selection of beer and bar food (drink fancy on game day), but what about TVs? The booths have their own flat-panels, and if you can’t snag one of those intimate game-day hideouts, the bar also has a couple 90-inch whoppers and a pair of 72-inchers.
Coaches Bar & Grill
1480 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side
Naming your bar Coaches means you’re all about sports; naming your bar Coaches in Columbus means you’re all about Buckeyes football. 50 HD TVs? Got ’em. Memorabilia scattered throughout? Yup. Burger dedicated to Woody Hayes? You know it! Just watch out for flying beanbags because Coaches’ cornhole league competes on Saturdays.
2096 W. Henderson Rd., Northwest Side
Here we have the traditional neighborhood bar experience: A handful of screens above the bar, cheap drinks and the usual greasy delights from the grill. On Saturdays the special happens to be $3 well drinks and shots, so don’t get too crazy with the post-touchdown toasts. But get a little crazy.
The Filling Station
8765 Smoky Row Rd., Powell
The weekly Saturday drink special: $12 Coors Light buckets and $1 High Life and High Life Light. As if that wasn’t enticing enough on a game day, the price of buckets reduces to $10 during Buckeye games (not to mention Cavs, Indians and Reds contests). Have a fried B-o-l-o-g-n-a sandwich with that.
Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill
900 Goodale Blvd., Grandview
As a game-day experience, this is an upgrade from the defunct Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe. They open at 10 a.m. for noon games. The patio features 40 large HD screens and a Block O fire pit. A solid memorabilia collection is on display for perusal. And they offer bus rides to and from Ohio Stadium with the purchase of a $20 gift card, which you’ll probably use to pay for that day’s meals and drinks anyhow. Good deal!
384 W. Third Ave., Victorian Village
Zeno’s offers all the essentials for a pleasurable pigskin experience — multiple TVs, pizza, beer (specials include Coors Light Pounders and Miller Lite drafts for $2.50) — but go to this bar on an OSU home game day and you’ll also find a hot near-campus commodity: parking! There are patron spaces next to Zeno’s and in the lot behind Katalina’s, and parking’s public and free on Third Avenue.
413 N. Front St., Arena District
This Arena District staple is a hive for Blue Jackets fans, but it’s also a great place to watch some football. There are 12 TVs to choose from and a menu loaded with bar food, sandwiches and pizzas served from a kitchen that’s open until 1 a.m. on Saturdays.
1455 W. Third Ave., Grandview
It still feels like summer, so combine patio life with football as long as you can at Grandview Café, where the second-floor deck is equipped with a huge flat-screen TV. The looks at this Grandview classic are backed up by terrific food and drink specials. Specialty hot dogs make you feel like you’re right in the stadium — just in a better seat.
Loose Goose Tavern
668 Grandview Ave., Grandview
Loose Goose is new to Grandview this year, but it’s already become quite the playground for grownups. Inside, you’ll find strategically located televisions by the bar, but there’s plenty to occupy your attention during commercials and halftime, too. Challenge friends to a game of skee-ball inside or check out the patio and fun outside.
961 S. High St., German Village
Besides friendly service, game-day visitors to Gresso’s can expect plenty of treats and fun.
Wear a jersey of your favorite team playing that day. If the person wearing that number scores during the game and you’re drinking Bud Light, you’ll get your next Bud Light for cents equal to the number on your jersey. (Love No. 10? Pay 10 cents for that beer.)
The bar serves $11.99 buckets on game days. And if the crowd’s big enough, the bar conducts a $1 raffle for T-shirts and coverage of one lucky person’s tab at the end of the game.
Classics Sports Bar
543 S. High St., Brewery District
Classics does a great job of catering to the sports enthusiast, whether he’s watching the game on TV or challenging friends to a game in the bar. TVs are conveniently situated above the bar, and there’s a big-screen out on a covered patio. There’s plenty of good bar grub to be had, but Classics is known for pizza for good reason. Not feeling the Brewery District? Classics has locations in Westerville, Tuttle Crossing, and Pickerington, too.
564 S. High St., German Village
The High Beck just came out on top in Columbus Alive’s Coldest Beer in Columbus contest. So don’t miss the ice-cold domestic bottles at this High Street hangout on the edge of German Village. On Saturdays, the bar serves $1.75 domestics and $2.25 well drinks ’til 7 p.m. Watching pigskin puts us in the mood for some pig meat — regulars clamor for Tiny’s Tasty BBQ dishes, which come in pork, brisket and ribs varieties.
King Avenue Five
945 King Ave., Grandview
Sports is king here, but the food is a close contender for the crown. All your game-day favorites — nachos, wings, burgers — are on the menu, and so are comfort-food favorites like meatloaf and fish and chips. King Avenue Five works hard to cater to the sports nut: TVs abound, and there’s a sweet game room. Shuffleboard, anyone?
The Library Bar
If you’re on Campus during game days and looking for a more chill atmosphere for watching the Buckeyes, The Library Bar is the place. Sure, it’s still got plenty of fans cheering, drinking and partying, but that little added bit of elbow room makes a world of difference.
2169 N. High St., Campus
Taj Bar & Lounge
Looking to watch the game in style? The Taj Bar & Lounge is just the spot with its swanky bar and carefully crafted cocktails. Even better: The game is shown on a big projector outside on the patio. That’s right — al fresco game day!
2321 N. High St., Campus
278 W. Lane Ave., Campus
All you revelers out there looking for a hardcore party need look no further than campus’ most (in)famous bar during Buckeye games. There’s a reason it’s recognized as one of the best college bars in the country. Home or away — but especially home games — the Varsity Club is wall-to-wall packed with students, alumni and fans cheering on the Bucks.
The Little Bar
2195 N. High St., Campus
We’re not real sure why it’s called Little Bar, because during game days this place is one gigantic party. There’s plenty of TVs and a projection screen to catch all of the action. If you’re in the mood for some post-game celebrating, Little Bar’s patio is the place to be.
The South Campus Gateway has a number of bars, but Mad Mex is an underrated gem. Besides having the best beer selection in the Gateway — even a serious beer nerd would be impressed — Mad Mex has the best wings you’ll ever find in a Mexican joint. And what’s better than beer, wings and football?
1542 N. High St., Campus
The Dub Pub
5736 Frantz Rd., Dublin
Widely considered one of Columbus’ best sports bars, the Dub Pub also has a not-so-secret weapon — a really attractive female staff. The best part is the staff isn’t just a bunch of pretty faces; they’re also super friendly and won’t let you go long without a fresh beer.
Pastimes Pub and Grill
1333 Worthington Centre Dr., Worthington
Pastimes Pub and Grill has some of the best food of any sports bar in the city. The burgers are always a solid option and the pulled pork sandwich is excellent. Make sure start out with the Buffalo Chicken Dip — it’s addictive.
3370 Olentangy River Rd., Campus
No part of the chicken accompanies football better than wings, and no one serves wings better than Roosters. Wash down delicious flappers with selections from a Saturday happy hour running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Among other specials, you’ll find 22-ounce drafts and well drinks for $2.75. To catch the game, try the giant projection screen in the rear dining room.
Fourth Street Bar and Grill
1810 N. 4th St., Campus
Though it’s a long stumble from the main Campus drag, Fourth Street Bar and Grill has become one of the hottest places for students to meet, greet and sip pints into the wee hours. The bar’s known for its wide selection of quality drafts — but also offers a solid rotation of specials on simple, game-day fare.
630 N. High St., Short North
The Short North isn’t the most popular game-day destination, so a low-intensity viewing experience awaits at Bernard’s. This polished watering hole focuses on craft beer and a broad menu of sandwiches, starters and sophisticated pub grub. TVs stand in attention over the bar, so your best bet is to belly up.
World of Beer
503 S. Front St., Brewery District
Ever sipped a Belgian dubbel while watching the Buckeyes? Scratch that from your bucket list at World of Beer, which offers 500 bottles and 45 drafts from across the globe. The bar opens early for kickoff, boasts 40 flat-screen TVs and provides free live music on Saturday nights. Check in during the Oct. 13 night game against Indiana for a special Oktoberfest celebration.
Hamptons on King
234 King Ave., Victorian Village
Buckeye fans living south of Campus flock to this cozy neighborhood pub known for its peculiar decor and dedicated regulars. Celebrate a long pass from Braxton Miller to Corey Brown with $3 bombs (get it?) and rotating food specials. During halftime, take a breather on the bar’s spacious patio.