Over the river, through the woods, and across the railroad tracks, you’ll find an unassuming bar called Johnnie’s Tavern.
This spot has long been hailed by locals as one of the best dive bars in the city, and for good reason.
The tavern is older. There are no frills. Although, I did count at least 5 flatscreen televisions, with varying degrees of function. It’s 100% the kind of place where you can walk in and expect a warm welcome from the staff and a friendly yet distant acknowledgment from the regulars.
It’s a small space, but it’s utilized well, offering booths, tables, and bar seating for patrons. I’ve never walked into Johnnie’s and had to wait very long for a table. This genuinely baffles me because it’s so delicious that you’d expect the line to be out the door at all times.
Johnnie’s has been making great food for over half a century. This underrated gem started as a grocery store but in 1948, the owners turned it into the tavern we all know and love. Johnnie’s Tavern has perfected the art of the burger. The Lombardi family has owned the tavern for decades.
The burger is the most well-known item on the menu, and that’s for good reason. It’s huge, delicious, and always cooked to perfection. You can order your burger with your choice of cheese, as well as lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. Sides are a la carte at Johnnie’s and when I say you can’t really go wrong here, I mean it.
The onion rings are delightful, the fries are crispy and fluffy all at the same time, and the mozzarella cheese sticks are so wonderful that they may kind of ruin any other cheese sticks for you.
The prices may have gone up over the years, but they’re still firmly in the camp of affordable pub grub. A burger and fries will only cost you $13 and I can speak from experience when I say you’ll probably have some leftovers.
The geniuses behind Johnnie’s have been making great food for nearly 75 years. They know what they’re doing and that’s made evident by the cult-like following they have gained over the years.
While Johnnie’s location used to feel a bit more “off the beaten path,” recent developments have added some must-visit destinations that pair perfectly with a visit to Johnnie’s. Once you experience the joy that is the dining experience at the tavern, you’ll feel an immediate desire to start burning some calories.
Luckily, the tavern is just a few minutes away from one of the city’s newest parks, Quarry Trails Metro Park. There you can explore the park, walk off that burger, and start planning your next visit to this one-of-a-kind Columbus institution.
When I say that Johnnie’s is old school, I mean it. They don’t have a website or any social media accounts, so you won’t be able to check them out online before visiting. But I promise you, it will 100% be worth your visit.
You’ll find Johnnie’s Tavern at 3503 Trabue Rd, Columbus, OH 43204. Enjoy your visit, friends!