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.
If you don't have tickets, there are plenty of places to grab a bite downtown while you're enjoying the Opening Day atmosphere. Here are nine recommendations!
Americano Burger Bar: Americano, the latest concept from Via Vite chef Cristian Pietoso, is right on the parade route, and its big, glass windows afford a perfect view of the fun while you drink a beer or boozy milkshake, and eat one of Americano's delicious burgers or the best onion rings in the city. This would be a perfect place for lunch (and by the time the parade makes it to Americano, it'll be lunch time). 545 Race St.
Taft's Ale House: Celebrating its second Opening Day (and its one-year anniversary), Taft's, also right on the parade route, is ideal for a pint and a bite before, during or after the parade. 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.
Moerlein Lager House: As close to the action as you can be without actually being in the ballpark, the biergarten, bar and outdoor areas are all popular places for Reds fans on Opening Day. Doors open at 5:30 a.m. for the live taping of "The Bob & Tom Show" (you can get a breakfast buffet in the biergarten for $15.99), and you can bet that all the TVs will be tuned to the Reds for the first pitch. Party on the event lawn with a live DJ and drinks for a fun Opening Day. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way.
Holy Grail Banks: Another perennial local favorite, 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 holiday. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way.
Revolution Rotisserie: Right on the parade route, it's 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.
Babushka Pierogies at Market Wines: Market Wines will be hosting local pierogie pusher Babushka Pierogies for a special Opening Day breakfast. Starting at 9 a.m. April 4, you can get goetta-potato-cheddar and potato-caramelized onion pierogies with the option of adding a fried egg on top. I can't think of a better breakfast! Market Wines also will have beer and wine for all of your Opening Day festivities, too. 128 W. Elder St.
Arnold's Bar & Grill: Arnold's is a Cincinnati Opening Day tradition, and it will be starting the day early with breakfast and the tapping of 16 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 Jay Bruce, Pete Rose, Brandon Phillips and others. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company actors will perform "Casey at the Bat" and "Who's On First," and Jim Tarbell will be in house dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton. It doesn't get more Cincinnati than this. 210 E. Eighth St.
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, Moerlein and Rhinegeist at 11 a.m., and there will be food options 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.
Knockback Nat's: Not too far from the parade route, Knockback Nat's will be serving its excellent smoked wings and beer and will have the TVs on in its newly expanded space. 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.
Where do you celebrate Opening Day? Tweet me at @winemedineme!