Byrne’s Pub

Columbus, Ohio

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

A contrast to affluent Grandview that surrounds it, Byrne’s bucks the fake Irish pub stereotype with live Irish music, the smallest stage in the city and a pizza hole that has to be experienced to be properly appreciated.

Field Rating

7

out of 10

Forgive the renovation but there's a true Irish dive to be had here.

Field Note

Fair to say no city is complete without a broad selection of faux Irish bars, but Byrne’s breaks the stereotype, supported by family history and a stream of Irish bands squeezed onto maybe the tiniest stage in Columbus. Byrne’s smells like a permanent combination of popcorn and Guinness, a byproduct of years of caked-on aroma from an ever-present popcorn machine.

When I first started coming to Byrne’s, the men’s bathroom divider between toilet and urinal was a shower curtain. And a rarely closed on at that. God help the tortured souls that likely had to make some terrible choices in those conditions. The architecture has evolved over the years, but the footprint is the footprint and dive bar bathroom proportions are very much in effect.

A phone call and a knock on the wall can get a pizza thrown through what friends have always referred to as the ‘pizza hole.’

Adjacent to a local pizza mini-chain, Grandad’s Pizza, gives Byrne’s one of its signature quirks, a pizza passageway between main room and pizza kitchen. A phone call and a knock on the wall can get a pizza thrown through what friends have always referred to as the ‘pizza hole.’ The highest honor I can give Grandad’s is that I’ve looked forward to eating it sober, so you can imagine its high quality during less discriminating eating occasions.

Stationary seating dots Byrne’s two rooms, a pair of elevated wooden high-top tables dominate (and on a Saturday night, obstruct) traffic flow through the middle of the space, with a pair of cramped wooden booths along the outside wall. Patio seating has grown in importance for Byrne’s over the years, like natural gently reclaiming street-adjacent space once reserved for smokers. On St. Patricks’ Day, tenting fills the sparse parking lot to provide additional space to make poor decisions.

Between concert nights, the secondary room features a line of accessible dart boards, continuing the tradition of alcohol and sharp objects as inseparable partners. A long bar runs the length of the main room, an underrated spot to park early and witness almost any imaginable social interaction with the spin of an evening.

The semi-suburb of Columbus that actually sits just a few blocks from downtown is affluent, but not so affluent that Jaegerbombs are underappreciated.

There’s a Touchtunes, there’s free popcorn, there’s every bell and whistle of an upscale dive bar, and it all takes place in Grandview, which is probably the biggest juxtaposition of all. The semi-suburb of Columbus that actually sits just a few blocks from downtown is affluent, but not so affluent that Jaegerbombs are underappreciated.

Across the intersection is the Ohio Taproom, an ex-barber shop turned keg fill turned mini-bar, supported by its own evolving patio. The pair make a formidable one-two punch, presumably with some high brow beer tasting across the street before really letting an evening stretch its legs at Byrne’s. You may even be forgiven to wander a bit further west to the heart of Grandview, itself an area with a handful of bars of varying quality.

But Byrne’s provides the dive bar heart to the otherwise highbrow area, a drinking oasis as reliable as an awkward stare across a shower curtain in the tight confines of a dive bar bathroom.

Photos

The Basics

1248 W 3rd Ave
Columbus, OH 43212

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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