By Andrew Hypes
Every month, the Nightlife page in our print edition of Outlook features what’s happening at the gay bars.
But these days, bars don’t have to fly a rainbow flag in order to welcome LGBT patrons. As everywhere else has become more inclusive, it’s just natural that nightlife has become less segregated, too.
“It seems like the idea of total diversity is just natural now,” said Miguel Martinez, a bartender at Leipzig Haus in Bexley, a spot popular with LGBT and straight students at nearby Capital University. “No one that comes here regularly gives things like that a second thought.”
Here’s a rundown of some of Columbus’s gay-friendly bars. They don’t identify themselves as gay, but it’s hard to call them straight, either.
Ace of Cups, 2619 N High St: A live music venue with loyal patrons, it brings in different crowds nightly depending on the act. All seem to be gay-welcoming.
Arch City Tavern, 862 N High St: Maybe it’s the ghost of Havana, the gay bar that used to be there. Maybe it’s the lobster mac ’n’ cheese.
Blue Danube, 2439 N High St: This diner is a great place for first dates or a nightcap. There’s only one rule: Don’t walk past the kitchen on the way to the ladies’ restroom.
Bodega, 1044 N High St: Before it shut down in February for a relaunch, Bodega was thought of as the gay bar that’s not a gay bar. There’s no reason to think that will change with version 2.0.
Hal and Al’s, 1297 Parsons Ave: This South Side spot with a vegan menu has a progressive vibe and a huge beer selection.
Jury Room, 22 E Mound St: All of Liz Lessner’s Columbus Food League restaurants (the others are Betty’s, Dirty Franks, Grass Skirt, Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top and the Torpedo Room) are welcoming places with diverse staffs and customers. Out Executive Bethany Walker makes the Jury Room especially worth a visit.
Leipzig Haus, 2201 E Livingston Ave: Like most college bars, it can get a little wild sometimes, but it’s also pretty much void of social hangups. “They are accepting of anyone and it’s a great place to just relax,” said Andrew Ruggles of Bexley. “It’s also a great place to go and meet new people while having a great, but really cheap drink.”
Little Rock, 944 N 4th St: With an extensive beer list, occasional live music and an old-school curated jukebox (that’s free to play!), it’s a laid-back place where everyone is welcome.
Local Bar, 913 N High St: This hangout compares itself to the watering holes of Africa where all animals come together. “We don’t believe in saying we are this or we are that. We just want you to come have fun, have a few drinks and maybe meet that other animal!”
Mike’s Grill, 724 N High St: As no-frills as a bar can get: They don’t take credit cards and don’t have food.
Press Grill, 741 N High St: “Great food that’s also pretty cheap,” said Dustin Auble, a college student who values value. Like most places in the Short North, its crowd is mixed and friendly. Auble said he also likes smaller bars because the bartenders seem more personal.
Seventh Son Brewing Co., 1101 N 4th St: It’s one of the many popular breweries in Columbus, and with communal picnic table seating, you’ll make new friends fast. And who doesn’t like a fire pit on the patio?
Short North Tavern, 674 N High St: It’s the neighborhood bar of what’s still considered the gayborhood of Columbus, so of course it’s going to be a welcoming spot.
Skully’s Music Diner, 1151 N High St: Ladies 80s on Thursday nights is technically a ladies’ night (they get in free), but it’s pretty popular with full-price-paying gay men, too. Skully’s has been voted Columbus’s best dance club every year for the past decade in one poll or another. It’s also a favorite for live music.
Strongwater Food and Spirits, 401 W Town St: Part of the new 400 West Rich arts complex in Franklinton, it’s helping to revive the neighborhood west of Downtown.
Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W 3rd Ave: Always in the running for the best happy hour in Columbus, Woodland’s has an eclectic crowd, from professionals stopping by on their way home from work to hippies waiting to hear the jam band playing later that night. And again, who doesn’t like a fire pit on the patio?