A Night Out is a quarterly editorial by members of the Columbus community, who give insider tips and tricks for an amazing evening in the Short North Arts District. To see daytime activities, see Day in the Life.
IMG_5540The Short North Arts District has come a long way since I first moved here in 2005 from Dallas, Texas. The Short North is where I discovered the heart of this capital city. It’s also where Fashion Week Columbus was born. So thank you, Short North, for the inspiration and partnerships.

The lights on the arches were not always shining bright with the colors of the current holiday or celebration. The Garden Theater, now run by Short North Stage, was at one time empty with little hope of being revamped. I can’t even remember what occupied the space where our beautiful Hilton Columbus Downtown sits, extended by a gorgeous enclosed glass bridge connecting to the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The Short North Arts District fashionistas didn’t always strut trendy and stylish fashions up and down High Street. I’ve been fortunate to witness the developments and evolution of the District, while the neighborhood still stayed grounded in what it means to be the heart of Columbus.

The Short North Arts District is easily one of my favorite places in the capital city, and a Friday night out all starts with happy hour.

5:00pm: For hand-crafted, high-quality classic cocktails, MOUTON is a MUST. The mixologists put their heart, sweat, and tears into every single cocktail. I’m serious! They even crush their ice by hand in a Lewis Bag with a mallet. Make sure to grab a delectable pastry from Laughlin’s Bakery off the bar for an oversized amuse bouche.

If wine is your poison, then stop next door at Camelot Cellars. Locally made, award-winning wines are available in various “Friday Wine Flights” which are $2.00 off during happy hour.

The Joseph6:00pm: It’s dinner time! Head over to newest Cameron Mitchell restaurant, The Guild House. This new art-centric foodie paradise, situated in the new Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph (voted top 11 new hotels in the world by Architectural Digest), features creative American cuisine. Make sure to check out the hotel’s amazing art collection while you’re there. Photo: Nikole Prete.

Last time I dined here, I ran into my dear friend Dominique Reighard (America’s Next Top Model and All-Stars turned international pop star), who introduced me to her dining guests Nigel Barker (judge and fashion photographer on America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway), and the very handsome Keith Carlos (first-ever male winner of America’s Next Top Model).

Another favorite and Short North Arts District staple is Rigsby’s Kitchen, serving up authentic Italian using sustainable and local ingredients. One of my favorites on the menu include the oyster diavlo. If you’re an oyster purist, visit Rigsby’s during Monday happy hours for $1 oyster night.

Short North Stage7:00pm: Make your way over to the Garden Theater to catch a performance. Short North Stage has featured critically acclaimed shows like A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. There’s also a speakeasy-themed bar to quench your thirst while enjoying the performance. Check their website for current productions. Photo: Short North Stage.

If a theater production isn’t in your cards for the evening, then head over to Brothers Drake for some great Columbus-made mead and local music. Recently, I rocked out to local favorite, Joey Hebdo, while I sipped on my mead and classic cocktails.

10:00pm: If you’re still up to continue the Friday night fun, I suggest heading over to Level Dining Lounge for a cocktail or glass of wine. If you’re ever in the area during the week, Wednesday nights are half-price wine bottles.

Denmark on HighAnother great hot spot is Denmark On High, a Euro-style Cocktail Bistro located on the 2nd floor of 463 North High. With a great view of High Street (especially during Highball), they serve vintage and modern cocktails with small bites. I had the privilege of being a guest bartender along with Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew SC and LA Galaxy soccer player turned Crew Brand Ambassador) and Wendy Rupp (Ohio Roller Girls) to benefit Wexner Center for the Arts’ Off The Grid. Photo: Denmark on High.

11:00pm: One of the best patios in Columbus is Union Cafe. The mixed crowd definitely represents the diversity of the Short North Arts District. Fridays are $5.00 Flirtinis, the perfect late-night cocktail.

If it’s a margarita kind of night for you, across the street is Bakersfield Short North, serving up a variety of margaritas (my favorite is the jalapeno margarita) and authentic Mexican food. Their patio is standing room only, but they often open up the giant windows in the restaurant so you could enjoy the inside atmosphere, while still connected to the bustle outdoors.

12:00am: Once you’ve had your fill at Union, cross High Street to their other establishment, AXIS Nightclub. By this point, you’ll be ready to dance to some high energy dance music! If you’re lucky, you could catch a drag performance in the front area. (Pro-tip: if you sit near the stage, you MUST tip those artists generously! These performers work hard to entertain you.)

If winding down at midnight is more appealing, take a pedi-cab over to Eleven for a night cap. The scene is more lounge and less dance. Take your choice of being seated on the relaxing patio or inside near the gorgeous bar.

2:15am: Before you head home, stop by Mikey’s Late Night Slice pizza truck to fill up on carbs and delicious pizza sauce and toppings before taking an Uber home.

The fun part about Friday night out in the Short North Arts District is that you get to do it again on Saturday night. (And make sure to attend a Gallery Hop on the first Saturday of every month!)