CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati’s inaugural home game as a Major League Soccer franchise is shaping up to be a carnival.
The club rides into Sunday’s match against Portland Timbers on a high after silencing 70,000 fans with Roland Lamah’s late equalizer for a 1-1 draw at reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United.
Adding to the excitement of the first home match is that it falls on St. Patrick’s Day, which means if the local sports bars weren’t going to be packed otherwise, they most certainly will this particular holiday. For those not able to make it to Nippert Stadium, many places will have the game on, and it’s sure to be a fun atmosphere.
Here is a look at nine local spots holding “watch parties” for Sunday’s home opener:
1. MECKLENBURG GARDENS
Address: 302 East University Avenue in Corryville
Phone: (513) 221-5353
Why it made our list: This is the pre-match meeting spot for FCC supporters group Die Innenstadt and a pub partner of the club. Die Innenstadt begins pre-gaming around noon and then will leave for the traditional supporters march about an hour before kickoff, but the party will continue at Mecklenburg for those not attending the game. The match will be broadcast at the front bar and in the beer garden on a large projection screen. Mecklenberg will feature its regular game-day menu with happy hour pre-match specials and will offer specials on Irish liquor and beers for St. Patrick’s Day. Die Innenstadt welcomes non-members to its pre-game festivities.
More info: www.mecklenburgs.com
2. TOP CATS
Address: 2820 Vine Street, Clifton
Phone: (513) 221-0924
Why it made our list: Top Cats is the official home match bar of The Pride supporters group, so it’s sure to be a good atmosphere. The Pride will begin pre-game festivities at noon. There will also be a food truck parked outside. Top Cats will offer a bucket of 6 Sun King Wee Macs for $15 and $2.50 green beer. The game will be on inside. Top Cats will also remain open after the game.
More info: www.topcatscincy.com
3. MIO'S PIZZERIA
Address: 2634 Short Vine, Clifton
Phone: (513) 281-6467
Why it made our list: It’s a special day for Mio’s Clifton, which will be celebrating its sixth anniversary on top of St. Patrick’s Day and FCC match day festivities. Mio’s will be having their beer reps dye kegs different colors of blue, orange and green, and among the specials of the day will be a shamrock-shaped pizza for $16.79 and $7 Irish car bomb shots. You’ll find Queen City Firm supporters group members at Mio’s starting around 2 p.m., and the game will be on for anyone staying behind.
More info: www.miospizza.com
Address: 119 E. Twelfth Street, Over-the-Rhine
Phone: (513) 381-2277
Why it made our list: One of the best soccer bars around, Rhinehaus gets a lot of traffic on FCC away game days and should be a landing spot for many who won’t be making it to Nippert. The game will be on 15 televisions and the big screen with sound. Rhinehaus sells a $10 specialty mug as a charity in collaboration with Die Innenstadt during away matches and will offer it this Sunday as well. Each time the mug is filled, part of the proceeds to that purchase go to the “It Starts With Shoes” charity.
More info: www.rhinehausbar.com
5. SECOND PLACE
Address: 3936 Spring Grove Ave, Cincinnati
Phone: (513) 417-8468
Why it made our list: A pub partner of FC Cincinnati, Second Place is a traditional soccer bar so they know how to do it right on match day. They offer traditional bar fare, done well, a great selection of taps, cans and bottles and bourbon slushes, and a fun atmosphere to watch the game. Specials were still being discussed at time of publication.
More info: http://www.secondplacebar.com/
6. HOUSE OF ORANGE SPORTS BAR AND GRILL
Address: 433 Johnson Street, Covington, Kentucky
Phone: (859) 261-4662
Why it made our list: Home to the Cincinnati Dutch Lions and an official pub partner of FC Cincinnati, House of Orange is naturally a place to be on game day. They are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and FCC’s home opener with green kegs ($3 a beer) and a $6 breakfast buffet with House of “Orange” eggs from 7-9 a.m. Other specials throughout the day include half price appetizers, $6 car bombs, $5 Jameson shots and $4 Guinness pints and a $5 build-your-own Bloody Mary.
More info: www.houseoforangesportsbarandgrill.com
7. TASTE OF BELGIUM
Address: 2845 Vine Street, Clifton
Phone: (513) 396-5800
Why it made our list: Taste of Belgium’s Clifton location will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with an all-day brunch. Their 24 draft beers and over 40 in the bottle and can are sure to satisfy all of FCC fans’ drink needs while they watch the game, and the food is delicious. Taste of Belgium is a pub partner of FCC.
More info: www.authenticwaffle.com
Address: 6507 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati
Phone: (513) 574-5600
Why it made our list: Bucketheads, which is another pub partner of the team, always has something special brewing for gamedays, and that will especially be the case Sunday as they mix festivities with a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. You’ll find $7.50 pitchers, green beer, Irish food specials and bagpipers and prize giveaways at halftime. Bucketheads has 36 televisions so the game will be easily viewable from any spot.
More info: www.facebook.com/pg/Bucketheadscincy
9. BC’S BOTTLE LODGE LIBERTY
Address: 7121 Liberty Centre Dr., West Chester
Phone: (513) 847-6866
Why it made our list: The official home of The Pride Norden for away matches, BC’s Bottle Lodge is a proven location for watching the game and it’s a good place for those in the northern suburbs. They recently released a Helles Real lager from Grainworks Brewing Company created in collaboration with The Pride Norden as a play on the “Hell is Real” derby with Columbus Crew SC, so be sure to check that out.
More info: www.bcsbottlelodge.com