Neighborhood: How to explore the up-and-coming Red Brick District

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
16-Bit Bar and Arcade

The Red Brick District-the once-quiet intersection of South Fourth and Main streets-became a dining destination on July 1, 2009 (otherwise known as National Hot Dog Day), with the opening of Dirty Franks. Elizabeth Lessner launched her hot dog joint to provide fast (and cheap) food to the area at a time when diners were still reeling from the Great Recession and the Downtown Wendy's had closed.

With hot dogs came customers. Lines formed out the door, and it wasn't long before Tina and Randy Corbin opened Little Palace, creating a cheap eats microcosm.

Cincinnati-based Sidebar set up shop on Main Street not long after and, in 2013, the addition of 16-Bit Bar and Arcade (now with locations in Cincinnati and Cleveland) helped make the area a destination. With planned fall openings by Mikey's Late Night Slice and Hadley's, nine bars and restaurants-all owned by seasoned Ohio restaurateurs-live in the densely packed two-block area.

The Red Brick District now presents a Short North-style concentration of bars and restaurants perfect for a Sunday funday or weekend bar crawl. Looking to explore? Here's how.

11 a.m.: Red Velvet Cafe

Don't let the name fool you-Red Velvet goes far beyond dessert. A second location for the Pickerington cupcake and coffee joint, Red Velvet opened with Filipino-style sandwiches and quickly adapted to serve breakfast and brunch (available weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to neighbors and bus station customers in the area. Start off with tapsilog. This classic Pinoy breakfast is simply garlic-fried rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg and served with marinated beef and a vinegar sauce. 246 S. Fourth St.

12:30 p.m.: 16-Bit Bar and Arcade

You won't find any food at this '80s- and '90s-themed bar and arcade (aside from Burgertime and Pacman's cherries), but you will find a wide selection of draft and canned craft beers.254 S. Fourth St.

3 p.m.: El Camino Inn

Next up, slide over to El Camino Inn for thick and irresistible house-fried chips and guacamole served, naturally, with a can of Modelo and whatever's playing on the turntable.238 S. Fourth St.

5 p.m.: Sidebar

Playing on a Saturday? Head up to the bar for a Sidebar Sidecar, and grab some cilantro hummus with grilled pita for a light snack before the crowd comes.122 E. Main St.

6:30 p.m.: Hadley's

It's time for one of the 26 craft beers on tap at Hadley's. A sister restaurant to Bodega in the Short North, this 2,000-square-foot restaurant fits in the neighborhood with its high-end bar food, so if you're feeling peckish, grab an oyster or three. Don't forget to Instagram the name, embedded into the ground with historic penny tile in the Stoddart Building's entryway.260 S. Fourth St.

8 p.m.: Mikey's Late Night Slice

The newest addition to the Mikey's empire is designed as a model that can be replicated outside of Columbus. With full pizzas and seating, it's already fancier than the other locations. But the Red Brick District location is the only spot serving what owner Mikey Sorboro hopes is the next great snack: pepperoni chips with Ohio's favorite dipping sauce (ranch, of course). Drink a beer and soak in the atmosphere: art by Patrick Moore (designer of Mikey's famous "I wanna be inside you" box) and Columbus' favorite anthropomorphic pencil (a relic of the location's previous tenant).268 S. Fourth St.

9:30 p.m.: Little Palace

Grab a booth, a cocktail and an order of poutine or roasted Brussels sprouts at Little Palace, the second restaurant to line the block. Dirty Franks' Lessner credits Little Palace's appearance for making South Fourth the place to be. "When [Little Palace] opened," she says, "things began to change quickly."240 S. Fourth St.

Midnight: The Walrus

Soak up all that booze with a hearty short rib dinner at the sister restaurant to The Tavern Olde Towne. This gravy-laden dish is served alongside horseradish mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and parsnips. (When was the last time you saw parsnips in a bar-slash-live- music venue?) Vegetarians and gluten-avoiders will find plenty to eat, too, on this curated, seasonal menu.143 E. Main St.

1 a.m.: Dirty Franks

This is no time to skip dessert. Head straight to Dirty Franks, the place that started it all, and close out the day with a taste of the state fair: an order of funnel fries dusted with powdered sugar.248 S. Fourth St.