With a central location in Athens, Ohio's charming and walkable downtown, Casa Nueva Cantina
(6 W. State St.
, 740-594-8691) is the closest you'll find to a gay and lesbian bar in this rather rural part of the state close to the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Athens is famous as the home of Ohio University, and it's a classic-looking college town with the lively energy you'd expect of such a place. Casa Nueva draws a mix of lesbians and gays, progressive heteros, and creative spirits. It's a bar as well as a restaurant serving creative and healthy Mexican food, prepared using mostly local and often organic ingredients. In the cantina, you can settle in for a beer (the list is immense), try one of the infused vodkas, or order a margarita.
There are also art shows, live music concerts, and a ever-changing mix of regulars and visitors of all types and ages. It's a great little hangout if you're in town for whatever reason, or perhaps visiting the relatively nearby Hocking Hills area, an increasingly gay-popular weekend retreat about midway between Athens and the state capital, Columbus, which is renowned for its gay scene.