Downtown Happy Hour Hop: A guide to one of the most surprisingly bar-dense parts of Columbus

  • Grass Skirt Tiki Room
  • Curio
  • Curio
  • El Camino Inn
  • Milestone 229
  • Sidebar 122
From the April 18, 2013 edition

Happy hour is that magical time when work is behind you — hopefully — and you’re ready to settle in for a drink — or three if it’s been one of those days. Warm weather means patios are open and the time-honored tradition of happy hour hopping is upon us. (I get excited for happy hour hop season like Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn do for wedding season.) Even if you don’t work Downtown, there are, as you’ll see with this guide, enough sweet-ass bars and happy hour deals to make it worth the trip. So join me in the fun with a list of Downtown’s watering holes and what to expect at happy hour.

Hungry Soul Cafe

30 S. Young St. 


Restaurant and bar located in a parking garage features complimentary appetizers Wednesday-Friday with the purchase of a drink.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$3 Yuengling, $2.50 Bud Light, $4 wells, daily bartender’s choice drink specials


202 E. Long St.


Lesbian bar with a couple pool tables, a nice patio and free pizza night on Wednesdays, and $2 PBR tallboys and $1 hot dogs on Thursdays.

Drink specials:

4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday

$2.50 pints and $6 pitchers Bud Light and Yuengling, $4 pints and $12 pitchers Leinenkugel and Blue Moon, $2.50 domestic bottles, $3.50 import bottles, $3.75 well liquors

Grass Skirt Tiki Room

105 N. Grant Ave.


The latest offering from Columbus Food League is quickly becoming my favorite. The decor and dimly lit ambiance reminds of a place where you might find Don Draper committing his latest infidelity (and the potent potables to make any seduction easier). Grass Skirt’s island-inspired cocktails look downright gorgeous, and, most importantly, are boldly flavorful while containing just enough sweetness. The best time to take advantage is during Tiki Tuesdays when all the Tiki Classics and the flaming bowl drinks, like the pictured Rum and Happiness, are only $5.

Drink specials:

3-7 p.m. daily

$1 off all beers, $3 daily bartender’s choice cocktail


Max & Erma’s

55 E. Nationwide Blvd.


Good-time chain restaurant originating in Columbus known for its burgers. All full-size appetizers are $3 off during happy hour.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$2 drafts, $3 domestic bottles, $3 well liquors, $3 house wines

89 Fish & Grill

89 E. Nationwide Blvd. 


Upscale restaurant specializing in fresh seafood. Take advantage of the happy hour small plates, including the “Angry” Mussels with a jalepeno broth and chorizo, and $5 specialty cocktails.

Happy hour:

4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4:30-6 p.m. Saturday

Discounted drafts ($2-$4), $5 wines by the glass and specialty cocktails

Flatiron Bar & Diner

129 E. Nationwide Blvd.


Cajun, Creole, barbecue and low-country cuisine served in a classy, yet comfortable atmosphere. The $5 small plates — Jumbo Fried Chicken Wings, Crab and Corn Cake and Charcuterie Plate — are a meal themselves.

Happy hour:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday (at the bar and on the patio)

$2 domestic bottles, $3.50 drafts, $2 well liquors, $5 specialty martinis

Lexi’s on Third

100 E. Broad St.

614-229-LEXI (5394)

Popular Downtown lunch spot with homemade corned beef has a happy hour with numerous food specials — some available only during happy hour — and a perfect patio for businesspeople watching.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$1 off drafts and house wines, $2.25 domestic bottles, $2 well liquors

Latitude 41

50 N. Third St. 


Swanky hotel bar and lounge with buy-one-get-one-half off small plates and pizzas during happy hour.

Drink specials:

4-6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday

$6 Beefeater and Smirnoff martinis, $4 select drafts

Mitchell’s Steakhouse

45 N. Third St.

614-621-BEEF (2333)

Famed steakhouse where you’re likely to see businesspeople schmoozing clients over dinner or a single barrel scotch at the bar. The small plates ($6-$7) are a thrifty way to do fine dining during happy hour.

Drink specials:

3:30-6 p.m. Monday-Friday

$6 select cocktails

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails

73 E. Gay St.


A hip spot where patrons blow off steam with the extensive — and inexpensive — cocktail menu and beer list. Get there early for a spot on the patio. Plus, half-price nachos during happy hour.

Drink specials:

$1 off Ohio beers

Due Amici

67 E. Gay St.


Upscale Italian restaurant and bar featuring a fine whiskey list and half off wine and champagne bottles on Monday nights. No drink specials, but buy-one-get-one-free appetizers and pizzas from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Ringside Cafe

19 N. Pearl St.


The oldest bar in Columbus is known for its mouth-wateringly huge burgers named after famous pugilists.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$2.50 domestic bottles, $3 crafts and imports, $3 well liquors


Cafe Napolitana

40 N. High St.


New York-style pizza joint serving Downtown for decades recently added a bar and offers $4.49 single-topping nine-inch pizzas during happy hour.

Drink specials:

4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday

$.50 off craft drafts and house wines, $3.50 domestic drafts, $2.50 domestic bottles, $3.75 import and craft bottles

J. Gumbo’s

31 E. Gay St.


Did you know the place with the tasty Cajun and Creole bowls also has a happy hour with all appetizers for $5 during happy hour? Then check it out.

Drink specials:

3-7:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday

$3 craft and import beers, wine and wine cooler, $14 five-beer buckets

Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus

161 N. High St.


Located in the historic Columbia building, this famed local brewpub offers some of Columbus’ favorite hometown beers that are ideal for washing down the $5 select appetizers.

Drink specials:

3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$3 drafts (except seasonals) and house wines, $3 well liquors

Milestone 229

229 S. Civic Center Dr.


Located in the heart of Downtown’s spectacular Scioto Mile, Milestone 229 has more than just drink specials during happy hour, even though there are plenty of those, too. Whether it’s daytime or night — when the city lights up — the view from the patio is gorgeous. And the recently updated spring drink menu has a number of libations perfect for sipping outside. The $6 small plates during happy hour are scrumptious comfort food; the Skillet Mac-n-Cheese and Four Snacks are highly recommended.

Drink specials:

4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday (bar and patio only)

$4 drafts, $5 specialty cocktails and wines

Manifesto Tuscan Grato & Scotch Bar

21 E. State St.


A recent addition to the Downtown bar scene, Manifesto focuses on scotches, but its expert bartenders can make a mean cocktail too. Select small plates are discounted during happy hour.

Happy hour:

3-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

Half off all beer, $5 select wines, $4 and $5 select scotches

Mojoe Lounge

149 S. High St.


The Downtown location of this popular Columbus coffee shop/bar chain boasts a swanky setting inside and a patio overlooking the Columbus Commons outside. There are a number of food specials, but the Chicken Wings (buttermilk fried, jalapeno cornbread crumble, and maple and hot sauce) are can’t-miss.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Thursday-Friday

$2 off craft and import drafts, $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon and Yuengling drafts, $1.50 domestic bottles

De Novo Bistro & Bar

201 S. High St.


The jazzy atmosphere is perfectly complemented by well-crafted cocktails, a great beer list and a wealth of deliciously discounted food ($5-$8), including the Kobe Chorizo Burger.

Drink specials:

3-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

$5 select wines, $5 bartender’s choice cocktail, half off drafts

The Main Bar

16 W. Main St.


That dive bar you’ve walked past, but never walked in — you’re missing out. No drink specials for happy hour, but everything’s so cheap it doesn’t matter.

Sidebar 122

122 E. Main St.


Sidebar 122’s recently revamped happy hour will entice you to swing by after work, and you’ll be pleased if you do. The $5 small plates menu was expanded to include some outstanding Spanish-influenced nosh, including the Beef Empanadas and Tilapia Fritters. Matching the food’s quality is the discount classic-inspired cocktails ($5.50) and beers ($3-$9) during happy hour. Try the Tiger Balm or Tequila Mockingbird cocktails.

Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$5.50 select cocktails, discounted select bottled beers


Dempsey’s Restaurant

346 S. High St.


A friendly little Irish bar that has a great Irish whiskey selection and a tired-and-true shillelagh behind the bar.

Happy hour:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$1 off drafts and house wines, $2.25 domestic bottles, $2 well liquors

Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace

248 S. Fourth St.


Columbus’ favorite hot dog joint is just a simple, fun spot. Dirty Frank’s doesn’t have too many drink specials because it doesn’t need to — almost everything, beers and cocktails, is $4 or $5 at most.

Drink specials:

$1 Pabst Blue Ribbon, $3 beer of the week


Little Palace

240 S. Fourth St.


Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

Half off drafts, $2 domestic bottles, $2 well liquors, $5 house wines (pinot grigio and Chianti)

El Camino Inn

238 S. Fourth St.


Drink specials:

4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

$2 Modelo, Tecate, Corona and Lonestar, $4 Paloma cocktails, $2 shots of El Toro, $2 well liquors

Since El Camino and Little Palace share the same owners — and sense of awesomeness — I’ll lump them into one. Both are super cool, slightly retro haunts that always have great tunes playing — El Camino even spins classic rock records! — and feature tremendous food at an even more tremendous price. El Camino’s Tacos, Gorditas and Tostadas all come in at $3 or less. And Little Palace has a Crispy Chicken Sandwich, (Double) Palace Burger and Meatball Mini for less than $4. Despite having a vastly different focus on drinks — El Camino is south-of-the-border honky tonk-chic and Little Palace has craft beers and stiff cocktails — both have great prices at happy hour. The best part is if you can’t get a seat at the smaller El Camino, it only means you’ll cheerfully head next door where you’ll surely get a seat at Little Palace.

Club 185

185 E. Livingston Ave.


Sure, German Village likes to claim Club 185, but it’s one of the most popular bars once 5 o’clock rolls around. Any bar with a photo booth is sure to know it means to have a good time.

Drink specials:

Half off drafts, $2 domestic bottles, $2 wells, $5 glasses of wine


491 S. Fourth St.


Columbus’ best cocktail bar usually has a few tipplers milling around outside five or 10 minutes before they open. Is it because they desperately need a drink? No, it’s because they desperately need a drink made by the masters at Curio. Seriously, you haven’t had a cocktail until you’ve had one from these bartenders. The stylish speak-easy spot offers a different daily cocktail special, but you can’t go wrong with whatever you order. Sure, it costs a little more for a cocktail at Curio than at other bars, but when you realize how perfectly — and strongly — made each one is, you know it’s a steal.

Drink special:

Daily cocktail special