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Don't have tickets for Opening Day? These sports bars are the best places to be

Posted: 1:53 PM, Mar 30, 2016
Updated: 2018-03-29 15:55:34Z
Don't have tickets for Opening Day? These sports bars are the best places to be

UPDATE: The Cincinnati Reds have postponed their Opening Day game and related activities to Friday due to bad weather. We'll update the plans of bars featured in this story as more details become available.

CINCINNATI -- You don’t need to have Opening Day tickets to enjoy one of Cincinnati’s biggest non-holiday events.

This year, the start of Reds baseball will be twice the fun.

With the Reds set to open the season March 30 at Great American Ball Park, local sports bars will be welcoming fans in to celebrate with specials. Then, they'll repeat the festivities April 2 as thousands of fans flock to the streets of Downtown for the annual Finlay Market Parade.

Here are our top sports bars to check out during the Reds’ opening weekend.

ARNOLD'S BAR & GRILL

Where: 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 12 minutes (0.5 miles)

Opens: 9 a.m. March 30; 9 a.m. April 2

Best day to go: April 2. Arnold’s is planning some specials for Opening Day but is doing its annual festivities on the day of the parade.

Why go there: Cincinnati’s oldest bar will be open for breakfast before the parade, serving sandwiches, sausage/gravy casserole and other goodies, and tapping 20 rare, one-off or highly-sought beers bright and early. In what has become an Arnold’s tradition, staff will mark the bottom of one out of every five random beer cups to determine the winners of more than 100 prizes ranging from autographed baseball cards and game-used memorabilia (Joey Votto, Ken Griffey Jr., George Foster, etc.), official Reds bobbleheads, jackets, Maker’s Mark wax-dipped baseballs and vintage unopened baseball card packs from the ’80s. Also keeping with tradition, Todd Hepburn will be on the piano playing every baseball song imaginable from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 2, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Jeremy Dubin and Justin McCombs will perform “Casey at the Bat” and “Who’s on First?” live throughout the day, and Jim Tarbell will dress as Peanut Jim Shelton and play the mouth harp.

Information: 513-421-6234; www.arnoldsbarandgrill.com

HOLY GRAIL AT THE BANKS

Where: 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown

Walking distance to ballpark: 1 minute (246 feet)

Opens: 8:45 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: March 30. Expect crowds both days, but given its proximity to the ballpark and the annual block party at The Banks, most of the action will be on Opening Day.

Why go there: Right across from Great American Ball Park, Holy Grail is hopping on just about any game day, but especially Opening Day when the place will be packed full hours before first pitch. 700WLW will broadcast live there, starting at 9 a.m. March 30 with host Mo Egger. You also can get 16-ounce aluminums for the price of a regular can of beer as an opening weekend special. Holy Grail has 36 TVs, including four 80-inch screens and six 70-inchers. The Reuben wontons – homemade egg rolls with corned beef, Swiss and sauerkraut inside and Thousand Island dressing to dip – are a popular appetizer, as are the loaded fries (bacon, ranch, cheddar cheese and chives), nachos and wings. There are 20 taps including mainstream brews, rotating crafts and local offerings.

Information: 513-621-2222;  www.holygrailcincy.com

JEFFERSON SOCIAL

Where: 101 E. Freedom Way, Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 3 minutes (0.1 miles)

Opens: 9 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: Expect crowds both days but given its proximity to the ballpark and the annual block party at The Banks, most of the action will be on Opening Day.

Why go there: Another option close to the ballpark, Jefferson Social doesn’t have as many TVs as some of the other places nearby, but it’s a great place to socialize before and during the game. Draft beers will be $6, bottles $4 and a hot table will be set up outside serving chicken and beef tacos. The regular menu here includes 16 rotating domestic and craft beers on tap, classic cocktails with a focus on freshly squeezed juices and quality liquors, and fine foods with a Southwest twist. Start with “street corn” on the cob covered in chili-lime mayo, cilantro and cotija cheese, a Southwest chicken egg roll served with creamy salsa or wings with three house sauce options or four different dry rubs. The tacos, sandwiches and salads are all delicious.

Information: 513-381-2623 or  www.jeffersonsocial.com

KNOCKBACK NAT'S

Where: 10 W. Seventh St., Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 15 minutes (0.6 miles)

Opens: 10 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: Either day.

Why go there: Knockback Nat’s is a popular dive bar best known for its delicious smoked wings, but the staff is making both days of the extended Opening Day celebration extra special with Reds paraphernalia giveaways, $1 hot dogs and $1 Jell-O shots. There are only seven beers on tap (one domestic and six craft), but the smoked wings, which are cooked with a secret dry rub, landed the bar on the Travel Channel’s list of the 101 best places to eat – and they should not be missed. The wings can be paired with at least nine different sauces, but the Hot-BBQ mix is a must. The atmosphere is fun and the staff friendly, and there are 15 TVs on which to watch the game.

Information: 513-621-1000;  www.facebook.com/Knockback-Nats-Neighborhood-Bar-146296676362/

KITTY'S SPORTS GRILL 

Where: 218 W. Third St., Downtown

Walking distance from the ballpark: 11 minutes (0.5 miles)

Opens: 11 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: Either day.

Why go there: Kitty’s is hoping for two big days with Opening Day and the parade falling on different dates. This sports bar offers 12 HDTVs, including one 80-incher, and a 120-inch projector screen. Count on the popular grilled wings, prime rib sandwich and chicken Philly sandwich to satisfy. Choose from any of the nine beers on tap, grab 16-ounce aluminum Bud and Bud Light on special or try the Red Rum Bucket – flavored rum and juices – for $10.

Information: 513-421-8900;  www.kittyssportsgrill.net

MOERLEIN LAGER HOUSE

Where: 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 2 minutes (0.1 miles)

Opens: 10 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: Either day.

Why go there: Enjoy a free live concert featuring Lieutenant Dan’s New Legs (with Superbad opening) from noon to 4 p.m. March 30 on the event lawn, then come back April 2 for a free after-parade party with Superbad performing 1-4 p.m. Moerlein Lager House will have its regular food and beverage service inside and on the patio but also will offer other food and drinks in the party tent on the lawn during the concerts. A full lineup of Moerlein craft and guest beers will be featured, including the baseball-themed, one-off style 7th Inning Stretch (an OTR Ale that mimics the flavor and aroma of Cracker Jacks) back on tap and seasonal favorite Strawberry Pig. Moerlein regularly offers a wide beer selection (26 on tap, 42 bottles, 18 cans and 17 growlers), a menu featuring sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads (start with the pretzels and beer cheese) and 25 TVs to watch the game.

Information: 513-421-2337,  www.moerleinlagerhouse.com

NICHOLSON'S TAVERN & PUB

Where: 625 Walnut St., Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 12 minutes (0.5 miles)

Opens: 11 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: March 30. Specials are available the day of the parade, but the bigger plans are for Opening Day.

Why go there: Nicholson’s is part of the Opening Day Backstage Block Party and Cornhole Tournament taking place around the corner in Gano and Ruth Lyons alleys on March 30. Stop by for lunch or grab a drink before the game, and you’ll be treated to DJ music and giveaways throughout the day. On the day of the parade, Nicholson’s will have drink specials for Ole Smoky moonshine, Bud Light and Budweiser.

Information: 513-564-9111; www.nicholsonspub.com

O’MALLEY'S IN THE ALLEY /THE BLIND PIG

Where: 25 Ogden Place, Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 7 minutes (0.3 miles)

Opens: 10 a.m. March 30; 11 a.m. April 2

Best day to go: March 30.

Why go there: Though tucked away in an alley off Vine Street, O’Malley’s always draws a crowd on Opening Day. This year, you can get $4 Maker’s Mark mules on special and Maker’s Mark wax-dipped baseballs. The bar has seven TVs, while sister bar the Blind Pig adds eight more, and there are 20 rotating beers on tap. The menu is full of simple but delicious bar staples, but the most popular eats are hot ham and Swiss on a pretzel bun, with Guinness onions and mustard, and Therese’s chili, which is made from scratch each morning.

Information: 513-381-3114;  http://bit.ly/2IdbN8K

RHINEHAUS

Where: 119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine

Walking distance to ballpark: 18 minutes (0.8 miles)

Opens: 9 a.m. March 30; 4 p.m. April 2

Best day to go: March 30. Nothing special is planned for April 2.

Why go there: Start your Opening Day festivities with bottomless mimosas (available 9 a.m. until noon for $20) at this laid-back hangout and help a good cause, as proceeds from those sales go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There are 16 TVs, which will all be showing the game, and the Hungry Bros. food truck will be there, too. Choose from 16 rotating taps, most of which are craft beers, 27 different canned beers, various standard domestic bottles or house shots such as the popular Mexican Rhino. Happy hour fits right in with game time, from 4-7 p.m., so take advantage of the regular specials as you enjoy some baseball.

Information: 513-381-2277;  www.rhinehausbar.com

TAFT'S ALE HOUSE

Where: 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine

Walking distance to the ballpark: 30 minutes (1.3 miles)

Opens: 11:30 a.m. March 30; 8 a.m. April 2

Best day to go: April 2. All the fun surrounds the parade. It’s business as usual on Opening Day.

Why go there: Taft’s is going all-out before, during and after the parade with plenty of good reasons to join in the fun. The first 100 people to buy a Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale will receive a free commemorative T-shirt, and for every beer sold throughout the day, Taft’s will give out a Cracker Jack box containing a prize. By the end of the day, Taft’s will have given away hundreds of prizes, including two grand prizes – a food/beer tasting for 10 in the Bell Tower private room and a large pizza per week for a year at Taft’s Brewpourium. The parade festivities also coincide with a rare, limited bourbon barrel bottle release that will go on sale when the doors open in Nellie’s Tap Room. While nothing special is planned for Opening Day on site, an artist will be at Washington Park building things with baseball equipment alongside a Taft’s booth.

Information: 513-334-1393; www.taftsalehouse.com

TINA'S

Where: 350 W. Fourth St., Downtown

Walking distance to the ballpark: 17 minutes (0.7 miles)

Opens: 11 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: Either day. Nothing special has been planned this year, but Tina’s is counting on its regular game-day crowds to create a fun environment.

Why go there: This classic bar, a popular spot on game days with its shuffleboard, darts and jukebox, will be abuzz on Opening Day and with parade-day stragglers. Tina’s has 13 wall-mounted flat-screens, eight rotating beers on tap, typical bar eats – the chili, wings and hot ham and cheese on a pretzel bun are the biggest hits – and plenty of space to accommodate a crowd.

Information: 513-621-3567; www.tinasbar.com

YARD HOUSE

Where: 95 E. Freedom Way, Downtown

Walking distance to ballpark: 3 minutes (0.2 miles)

Opens: 10 a.m. March 30 and April 2

Best day to go: March 30.

Why go there: Located just a couple of blocks away from the ballpark, this high-end sports bar chain is sure to draw a crowd on Opening Day even without anything special planned. Happy hour (with half-price appetizers and drinks) is from 3-6 p.m., which coincides with the games both days, and Yard House features 35 televisions, including one on the patio, so there isn’t a bad seat. The diverse menu offers something for everyone, ranging from pizza, burgers and street tacos to two staff favorites: porcini-crusted halibut (a crusted halibut in a porcini cream sauce with white truffle oil, asparagus and bok choy); and the Chicken Enchilada Stack (chicken and pepper jack cheese in corn tortillas with pasilla chilies, beans, sour cream, tomatillo and red chili sauce). Its biggest draw, though, is an extensive list of draft beer, with 160 taps featuring several local breweries, traditional favorites and hard-to-find offerings. Want something a little different to drink? The Mules are said to be pretty tasty.

Information: 513-381-4071 or www.yardhouse.com