CINCINNATI -- I take every Opening Day off. Seriously.
It's a holiday to me: Start with brunch, head to the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, then wander down to the Banks to celebrate at the Reds' giant block party.
Sometimes, you can get tickets the day of -- and sometimes not. That's OK, because the whole town turns red on Opening Day, so you can see the game at a variety of places. There are plenty of places to grab a bite while you're enjoying the Opening Day atmosphere.
Here are our top recommendations!
Americano Burger Bar: Americano serves a delicious burger and some of the best onion rings in town. It's right on the parade route, and its big, glass windows afford a perfect view of the fun while you eat a good meal and drink a beer or boozy milkshake. This would be a perfect place for lunch. (By the time the parade makes it to Americano, it'll definitely be lunch time). 545 Race St., Downtown
Taft's Ale House: Celebrating its third Opening Day (and its two-year anniversary), Taft's is ideal for a pint and a bite before, during or after the parade. (It’s right on the parade route, too.) Settle in with some smoked wings, a tri-tip sandwich or a refreshing Nellie's Key Lime beer. President William Howard Taft threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season in 1910; why not have a ceremonial first beer at his namesake restaurant? 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Moerlein Lager House: It’s as close to the action as you can be without actually being in Great American Ball Park. Moerlein Lager House’s biergarten, bar and outdoor areas are all popular places for Reds fans on Opening Day. Join the Tillers in the party tent on the event lawn (where you can get food and drinks and enjoy a live DJ) or head inside for Moerlein's regular menu and some special-edition beers. You can bet that all the TVs will be tuned to the Reds for the first pitch. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown
Holy Grail Banks: Holy Grail at the Banks, located 100 yards from home plate, is one of the best places to view the parade and drink a beer or two (or more). There's inside seating with plenty of TVs as well as outdoor seating, and the party will spill over onto Joe Nuxhall Way. Grab some reuben wontons or a pizza to share while you celebrate Cincinnati's unofficial holiday. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown
Revolution Rotisserie: Right on the parade route, Revolution Rotisserie a great spot to view the parade while you eat delicious roasted chicken, either on a salad or on a "chita," one of the chicken-topped pitas. (I like the Marie Curie, with barbecue sauce and smoked Gouda.) Or splurge a little with a plate of Revolution's tater tot poutine, topped with lots of gravy and cheese curds. 1106 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Babushka Pierogies at Market Wines: Market Wines will host local pierogi pusher Babushka Pierogies for a special Opening Day breakfast. Starting at 9 a.m. April 3, get hash brown casserole pierogi, veggie omelette pierogi, biscuits and gravy pierogi and roasted red potato vegan pierogi, with the option of adding a fried egg or goetta gravy on top (or both). I can't think of a better breakfast! Market Wines will have beer and wine for your Opening Day festivities, too. 128 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine
Arnold's Bar & Grill: Arnold's is a Cincinnati Opening Day tradition. The bar will start the day early at 9 a.m. April 3 with breakfast and the tapping of 20 beers (many of them local or rare). One out of five random beer cups will be marked, with winners scoring baseball memorabilia such as autographs from a variety of current and former Reds greats. Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. actors will perform "Casey at the Bat" and "Who's On First," and Jim Tarbell will be in the house dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton. It doesn't get more Cincinnati than this. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Washington Park: Washington Park, right on the parade route, will have all sorts of events for Opening Day. Its bar and patio will start serving local brews from MadTree, Taft's Ale House, Moerlein and Rhinegeist at 11 a.m. April 3, and there will be food and live music, too. This will be a particularly nice option if Opening Day is sunny -- you can stay in the park all day. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
Knockback Nat's: Knockback Nat's will be serving its excellent smoked wings and beer and will have the TVs turned to the Reds. This is a great place to go after the parade and settle in to watch the game. The crowd is fun, the staff is friendly and the food is a notch higher than traditional bar grub. 10 W. Seventh St., Downtown
Maplewood Kitchen and Bar: Want a healthy, leisurely breakfast or brunch on Opening Day? Head toward Maplewood and get a chicken tinga, avocado toast, a fresh-squeezed Sol Glo mimosa or a latte. For lunch, opt for a Greek-style kale salad or grilled cheese sandwich. Bonus: It's on the parade route! 525 Race St., Downtown
Taste of Belgium: With Taste of Belgium’s new location at the Banks, you can celebrate Opening Day like a Belgian really close to the ballpark. Grab a burger, some beer cheese, or waffles and chicken before or after the game, or simply watch the game at the bar while enjoying Taste of Belgium's expansive beer selection. 16 W. Freedom Way, Downtown
Pies and Pints: Grab some pizza skins (think potato skins on pizza dough), pork nachos, or one of the many pizzas at this new addition to the Banks. You also can enjoy a wide variety of local and national craft beers. 56 W. Freedom Way, Downtown
BurgerFi: Want a burger close to the action? BurgerFi, which opened at the Banks in mid-March, serves giant burgers, equally giant onion rings, and hot dogs. Going before the game? It offers a breakfast burger, with American cheese, bacon, maple syrup, fried egg, a hash brown, grilled onions and ketchup to start off your Opening Day right. 161 E. Freedom Way, Downtown
The Stretch: The latest addition to the 4EG lineup is a bar located just feet from home plate. The Stretch has two bars -- a long bar and a shorter bar -- so you won't have a long wait for service. TVs will show the game, and it has a state-of-the-art draft service featuring 12 beers, eight cocktails and four wines. 191 E. Freedom Way, Downtown
Where do you celebrate Opening Day? Tweet me at @winemedineme!