Classic Columbus Haunts: Ringside Cafe

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

First meal served: 1910

Down memory lane: Nineteen North Pearl Alley has been the site of a downtownerand political insiders' tavernsince 1897, when the Board of Trade Saloon started slinging boozeat that address. After the BOTSburned down in 1909, theshort and stout brick building currently holding forthat 19 N. Pearl opened up as the Chamber of CommerceCafe and Rathskeller. It then spent some shady, speakeasy days during the Roaring '20s under the evocative name of the Jolly Gargoyle.

Eventually, the littlepolitical playground became Clem's Ringside in 1960 when Clem Ambrose purchasedit. In 2008, the Ringside's current owners (who are convinced the place is haunted)gave it a much-appreciated polishing up, butsmartly keptits wonderfully preserved,original features.

Between the aisles: Put 'em up, because this small, brawny and saloony joint has fistloads of manly wood and boxing-themed accents. There'sartifacts like a "ringside" bell beside the original, carved English oaksix-seater bar, pictures of pugilists,a brawling George Bellows painting plus a heavy bag hanging near the entrance.

Lightening the masculine load are ratherout of character, but nonetheless pretty Belgian stained-glass windows depicting what seem to be Elizabethanscenes. But another stained glasser - a segmented window of an elephant precariouslyposednext to a donkey - hints at how the Ringside might've accrued its duke-it-out mood and theme.

On the plate: Your appetite won't be saved by the bell if you order the specialty of the broom-closet-sized kitchen- huge and homeyhamburgers. Named after famous boxers, they're big ol' juicy and greasy handmade black angus patties -real knock-you-outbun destroyers. Thesear-crusted heavyweights are paired with good homemade chips -handcut shoestring-y fries can be subbed for an extra charge.

Ringside Cafe

19 N. Pearl St., Downtown