Behind the bars

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It's the ultimate summer buzz kill: back-to-school time. The reemergence of homework means the end of flip-flop frolicking and endless Guitar Hero sessions. When faced with academic rigor, only students with great diligence can persevere in their efforts to goof off, boogie down and engage in booze-related shenanigans.

Fortunately, the Campus area surrounding Ohio State offers plenty of bars ripe for escapism. Beyond low-brow beer palaces, bar-hoppers will find some of the city's best drinkeries, in a variety of flavors, packed with youthful, would-be suitors. Stiff competition for students' piggy banks means a night on the town can be as cheap as awkward small talk if you play your cards right. Consider this your barroom study guide.

Rump-shakers & toe-tappers

A tough week calls for a hard-rocked weekend - or hell, any night will do. Whether you're in the mood for booty-rumbling or head-bobbing live music, excursions in mingling await.

Ravari Room: The dimly lit, tattoo-friendly bar hosts a solid mix of national and local bands. Ravari's monthly rock 'n' roll dance party, The Clampdown, is the event for getting down. The bar's daily, 4-9 p.m. happy hour boasts $1 domestic drafts and $2 mixed drinks.

Skye Bar: Resembling an upscale laser-tag arena, the club draws a late-night crowd sporting heels and high collars. Nightly DJs whip the masses into motion - there's no cover for students - but super-thrifty drinks help, like $2 shots and Natty Lights on weekend nights.

Cafe Bourbon Street: A punked-out hole in the wall, the bar features superb low-dough shows and an outrageous Best Karaoke Ever night on Sundays. Tall boy PBR cans ($2) and shots of Bulleit Bourbon ($4) fuel the tight-jeaned crowd.

Dick's Den: Arguably the best place for live jazz in Columbus, the old-school joint embodies the warmth of a slow-thumping bassline. Low-cover shows, a vintage juke and affordable sips make Dick's a nightly destination. As the sign reads out front, "Why not?"

Chill and cheap

Let's face it, sometimes you just want to hit a bar where you can don a faded T-shirt, chat without screaming and leave with a not-too-starved wallet. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Library Bar: The charming, graffiti-etched wooden bar and its eclectic clientele seem transplanted from small-town Ohio. Foosball, pinball, a patio - there's a lot crammed in the low-key little place, including thrifty drinks, like 99-cent drafts on Saturday or $3.50 pitchers of Natty Light on Monday.

Larry's: Christmas lights illuminate secluded booths, colorful canvases and, some say, ghosts from Larry's origins in the '20s. With cheap booze, live music and one of the city's best jukeboxes, it's easy to see why students have long spread rumors about Larry's being a gay bar to ward off tool-ish outsiders.

Cazuela's Grill: The brightly colored Mexican eatery's drink specials will quickly have you rolling and slurring your "r"s. Daily from 2-6 p.m. and 10-11 p.m., Cazuela's touts 21-ounce Lime Margaritas ($5) and Micheladas ($6), a zingy, beer-based Bloody Mary.

Bier Stube: A relic of South Campus' past, you're pretty much guaranteed to bump elbows at the tiny watering hole. Other than kicking back outrageously affordable libations - like $1.50 Bud drafts and $3 Jager shots - the classic-rock juke is the only entertainment outside gawking at the quirky, worn-in lodge ambiance.

Barroom adventures

When the usual drinkeries stir a yawn, don't settle for vegging with the roomies. Put on your safari garb and best drinking cap, then head someplace refreshingly different.

Momo2: The 15,000-square-foot funplex features private karaoke rooms, bowling, billiards, beer, bubble tea and bizarre Hello Kitty toys - plus it's open till 4 a.m. on weekends. If your reclusive friend can't find something to do here, hit them over the head with an Xbox.

Panini's Bar & Grill: Between mechanical bull riding on Wednesday nights and big-screen Guitar Hero matches on Sundays, there's a lot going on at the three-floor megabar. In addition to bands, DJs and plenty of screens for sports gazing, the bar offers 70 bottled beers.

Suzi-Cue Pool Hall: Whether you fancy yourself a pool shark or minnow, Suzi-Cue is the spot for billiards. The tidy, open-space bar features a wealth of pool tables and flat-screen TVs, plus a daily happy hour and specials, like Tuesday's $2 bombs and free billiards for students.

Mad Mex: Tasty burritos aside, Mad Mex reps the best selection of draft beer on Campus. The ever-changing lineup of drafts, including high-alcohol suds with the complexities of fine wine, are half-off for weekday happy hour. Wednesday's beer tastings mean free samples and swag - thank you, beer gods.

Campus cheat sheet

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar

480 Ackerman Rd.

614-268-1220

Web: applebees.com

Ashley's Lounge

328 W. Lane Ave.

614-294-4848

Bento Go-Go

1728 N. High St.

614-298-8817

Bernie's Distillery

1896 N. High St.

614-291-3448

Web: cringe.com/bs/distillery.htm

Bier Stube

1479 N. High St.

614-299-5467

Blue Nile

2361 N. High St.

614-421-2323

Blue Danube

2439 N. High St.

614-261-9308

Buckeye Bar & Grill

2871 Olentangy River Rd.

614-261-1970

Web: buckeyebar.com

Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe

1421 Olentangy River Rd.

614-291-2233

Web: buckeyehalloffamecafe.com

Buffalo Wild Wings

2151 N. High St.

614-291-2362

Web: buffalowildwings.com

Cafe Bourbon Street

2216 Summit St.

614-268-9377

Cazuela's Grill

2247 N. High St.

614-884-0755

Damon's Grill

3025 Olentangy River Rd.

614-262-6208

Web: damons.com

Dick's Den

2417 N. High St.

614-268-9573

Eddie George's Grille 27

1636 N. High St.

614-421-2727

Web: eddiegeorgesgrille27.com

El Vaquero

3230 Olentangy River Rd.

614-261-0900

Web: elvaquerorestaurants.com

Happy Greek

1552 N. High St.

614-291-7777

Web: happygreek.com

Hendoc's Pub

2375 N. High St.

614-297-1217

The Summit

2210 Summit St.

614-268-9377

Jack's Corner Pub

2480 Summit St.

614-261-9240

Larry's Bar

2040 N. High St.

614-299-6010

Web: larrysbar.com

Ledo's Lounge

2608 N. High St.

614-263-1009

Web: ledosbar.com

Library Bar

2169 N. High St.

614-299-3245

Web: librarybar.com

Little Bar

2195 N. High St.

614-291-8887

Lucky's Stout House

1475 N. High St.

614-299-5825

Mad Mex

1542 N. High St.

614-586-4007

Web: madmex.com

Mama's Pasta & Brew

23 Campus Pl.

614-299-7724

Web: mamaspastaandbrew.com

McFadden's Saloon

1576 N. High St.

614-294-2200

Web: mcfaddenssaloon.com

Momo2

2885 Olentangy River Rd.

614-784-0888

Web: momogroup.net

Notals Too

1880 N. High St.

614-291-7909

The Nuthouse

2159 N. High St.

614-294-6888

The O Patio & Pub

12 E. 15th Ave.

614-298-8000

Oldfield's on Fourth

1571 N. Fourth St.

614-291-5598

Web: oldfieldsonhigh.com

Oldfield's on High

2590 N. High St.

614-784-0477

Web: oldfieldsonhigh.com

Out-R-Inn

20 E. Frambes Ave.

614-294-9259

Web: myspace.com/outrinn

Panini's Bar & Grill

1714 N. High St.

614-291-3333

Web: columbuspaninis.com

Ravari Room

2657 N. High St.

614-263-4058

Web: ravariroom.com

Rooster's Restaurant

3370 Olentangy River Rd.

614-262-3185

Web: roosterswings.com

Ruby Tuesday

1978 Summit St.

614-291-8313

Web: rubytuesdaylive.com

Rumba Cafe

2507 Summit St.

614-268-1841

Web: columbusrumbacafe.com

Scarlet & Grey Cafe

2203 N. High St.

614-291-2347

Skye Bar

1562 N. High St.

614-421-7593

Web: skyebar.com

Sloopy's Bar

2619 N. High St.

614-268-6850

Suzi-Cue Pool Hall

1950 N. Fourth St.

614-299-7665

Thirsty "I"

300 W. Lane Ave.

614-424-6718

Thirsty Scholar

2201 Neil Ave.

614-298-9805

Ugly Tuna Saloona

1546 N. High St.

614-297-8862

Web: uglytunasaloona.com

Varsity Club

278 Lane Ave.

614-299-6269

Web: theoriginalvarsityclub.com

Wendell's Alumni Grill

300 W. Lane Ave.

614-424-6718

Woody's Sports Club

2933 Olentangy River Rd.

614-267-1666