High Beck Tavern

Columbus, Ohio

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

High Beck Tavern just south of downtown Columbus provides the ultimate in dive bar coziness, a space pulled together by classic hardwood floors, exposed brick and a challengingly steep basement bathroom stair descent.

Field Rating

7

out of 10

Seriously watch your step on those basement stairs.

Field Note

Beck Street south of downtown Columbus might be the de facto dive bar hub of the city, with two of the city’s finest along the same street, unfortunately with logical but frustratingly similar names (Beck Tavern vs. High-Beck Tavern). Thankfully, High-Beck sits at the corner of High & Beck, saving some troublesome memorization. A drinker can’t really go wrong with either location, but maybe double check that text message from your buddy before you head out.

The blue awning out front provides the surefire landmark to look for, the bar occupying half of a near-downtown building that has seen some rotation in the bar’s neighbor. A small porch out front hosts a handful of picnic tables crammed on a nice day, sparsely populated by the odd smoker or two on a less than nice Ohio evening.

One of the low-key best dive bar signs in the city belongs to High-Beck, tucked around the corner from the main entrance, along Beck Street.

One of the low-key best dive bar signs in the city belongs to High-Beck, tucked around the corner from the main entrance, along Beck Street. It hangs over a side door that provides instant access to the bar’s pool area, which also doubles as its ping pong alley, with just the kind of drunken yelling you’d think a dive bar ping pong table would instigate.

The south wall of the interior features a lattice-work Christmas light display that provides the trademark glow to the space. Underrated is the front booth built into the windowed wall that looks out onto High Street, a cramped space for more than two, but probably worth the experience to wedge a few more into the narrow wooden seats. Nearly hidden behind the bar is a small kitchen that cranks out the food you’d expect it to crank out, though at a higher quality level than the term “dive bar” might suggest.

An area best described as a dart board hallway lives along that same path, with the bar’s best graffiti scrawled over the brick and board area.

A handful of low tables sit across from a main bar that loops toward the front entrance and curls into a second room that doubles as the path to the basement bathrooms. An area best described as a dart board hallway lives along that same path, with the bar’s best graffiti scrawled over the brick and board area. The bathrooms are worth the visit, the doors of which have long been labeled “Nasty Women” and “Bad Hombres.” Do take care on the steps, as they are either a touch steep, or simply feel that way after a handful of Miller Lites.

And the entire space is puled together by some serious hardwood flooring that I’d be surprised to find out is anything newer than ancient. Paired with the Christmas lights, exposed brick dotted with old photos & trophies and the ever-present availability of hot dogs on the menu, High Beck is the right kind of Midwestern dive bar cozy, this time with ping pong.

Photos

The Basics

564 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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