I'm a real sucker for two things that puts a Cincinnati sports bar roundup right into my wheelhouse. To start with, Cincinnati sports. We have teams that I love to root for through the good times and the rough ones alike. The Reds, The Bengals, and FC Cincinnati are as much a part of the culture of Cincinnati as anything else you'll find in town. On the other end of things, I'm a nut for Cincinnati's drinking culture. I've been writing about our breweries, distilleries, and bars for about a decade over on TheGnarlyGnome.com and continue to fall more and more in love with it each time I belly up to a bar somewhere.
I've been called an expert in Cincinnati drinking, but I think of myself as an enthusiast, a connoisseur, or an appreciator of Cincinnati's drinking scene. I've been to many bars (especially sports bars) around the city, watched many games from barstools, and have spent more time than I care to admit, categorizing and analyzing them all.
Where do you go when you want to watch a football game or a baseball game? What are the best soccer bars in the Greater Cincinnati region? I've got you.
The best Cincinnati Reds bars
The food, the drinks, and the crowd are critical to your enjoyment of a Cincinnati Reds bar in the same way that they are of a Cincinnati Reds game. I've scoured the city to put together the best of the best and have it narrowed down to the places that you have to go if you want to catch the home team on a warm summer night.
Downtown and Over-the-Rhine
When you're in the city, there are a lot of choices you can make to hit up a decent sports bar to watch the Cincinnati Reds. There are a couple of places, though, that are really hard to beat.
- Knockback Nat's: Knockback Nat's is an institution when it comes to baseball bars in Cincinnati. It starts for me with the free popcorn and quickly gets followed up with the wings. Their wings are a top-tier Cincinnati staple and will make watching the game at least ten times better with them in front of you. The bar feels like a classic sports bar that has been there for decades, and a trip on opening day will hook you for life on what they're doing. With a streetcar stop only a block away, it will take you right to Great American Ballpark, or, even better, one of the other stops on this list.
- Holy Grail at the Banks: Holy Grail sits across the street from the Reds stadium, which gives them an incredible advantage compared to other bars around town. The bar isn’t just within walking distance, it’s so close you could throw a baseball. When you're sitting on the patio with a cold beer in your hand, and you can hear the crowd cheering, the crack of the bat, and the thundering of fireworks when the Reds score a home run, you feel like you've found your spot. The bar is loaded up with TVs, making sure that you don't miss a second of the game, and the open-air feeling of their space means that the sounds of the ballpark drift in with the warm summer breeze. It's the perfect spot to watch a game, home or away.
- Smoke Justis: Smoke Justis is named after Walter "Smoke" Justis, a baseball player from a defunct NKY team. They have found a way to combine Kentucky's favorite pastime (bourbon) with America's favorite pastime (baseball). The bar is packed full of nods to the roots of both sides of their personality, and it creates a space where you can belly up with a glass of the finest spirits while you're watching a game. It's a mixture that, for some reason, just feels very "Cincinnati". A quick walk across the historic Roebling Bridge will take you right to The Banks, and to the ballpark as well.
Cincinnati Bengals bars
With football being a cold-weather sport, it lends itself extremely well to a sport that you want to watch from the warm comfort of your favorite bar. It's not hard to create a space that "works" for football enjoyment, with the needs being very simple. The bars I've uncovered, though, take it to a high level. They have space for all your friends, food options to keep you satisfied during the entirety of a Bengals game, and always make sure there are plenty of TVs available so you can keep tabs on what the rest of your fantasy team is doing.
West Side Cincinnati sports bars
The West Side of town has its own culture, unique to anywhere else in town, and they really love Bengals football. There are plenty of neighborhood spots that could make the cut as a place where you'd have a great time watching the game, but there are distinct things that make these two rise to the top of the list for me.
- Longshots: This bar is a perfect example of a staple West Side bar. They loaded up the space with plenty of televisions for all the games and a wide variety of spaced-out tables to make sure that not only will you and your friends be able to spread out and enjoy yourselves, but if there happens to be a group of folks rooting for the "other guys", you can get your distance, too.
- Crossroads: A build-your-own burger and a cold beer are the perfect recipe for a winning season, especially if you're watching the game at Crossroads Sports Bar. It's a classic bar that packs a little bit for everyone into a space that could quickly become your go-to lunch spot, as well as the place to get away and watch the game on Sunday.
Downtown and OTR
- Kitty's: You can never hope to have a real Bengals bar list if you don't include Kitty's. Located a quick stone’s throw from the stadium, it doesn't matter if you're looking for wings and a beer or one of their classic Bengal Bombs - you’ll want to spend more than four-quarters bellied up here.
East end of Cincinnati
- Streetside Brewery: Located in Columbia Tusculum, Streetside Brewery might not seem like the place to go watch the game, but one Sunday during game day is all it will take for you to "get it.” They have the good vibes of a winning game ball hand-delivered to them and are no strangers to seeing some familiar player faces in their taproom. It's the place that transforms from a neighborhood gathering spot to a gameday sports bar at the drop of a hat. The incredible beer made in-house doesn’t hurt either!
FC Cincinnati Bars
Cincinnati has become a soccer city. New and old fans alike have come together to root for FC Cincinnati, and luckily for all of them, there are some great places around that are made just for that.
- Higher Gravity: Higher Gravity has two locations. One location is in Blue Ash, and one is in Northside. Both spaces have become ground zero for watching your favorite soccer teams as they battle it out. This doesn't come from a manufactured idea that soccer is popular but from a genuine passion for the sport, and it shows. The spaces are more of a modern take on what you'd expect a sports bar to be, with an incredible beer selection and even bottles and cans you can take home after the game.
Downtown and OTR
- Rhinehaus: Rhinehaus might be one of the original soccer bars in Cincinnati. They're located in OTR and quickly became the hub for soccer fans to unite and watch their favorite teams (local or not.) With the walkability of the neighborhood, it’s only a short walk over to TQL Stadium to watch FC Cincinnati in person.
- The Pitch: A bit of a newer take on a soccer bar, located right across the street from the stadium, FCC fans will immediately find themselves at home in a bar that feels like it was built from the ground up just for soccer fans to have their own space. They even have a 3v3 outside soccer pitch where you can challenge your friends once the game on TV is over.
- Molly Malone’s: There's something about an Irish Pub like Molly Malone’s that makes watching the match with a pint of Guinness in your hand perfect. The bar has been here for a long time, giving soccer fans a place, well before soccer fever hit Cincinnati, and it shows. They have a vibe that is hard to manufacture and that you'll want to experience over and over.
Unique Cincinnati sports bars
Rooftop bar at Pins Mechanical (photo: @lunalyss)
If the search for a great sports bar in Cincinnati has you scratching your head, looking for something a little outside the usual, this city has you covered. We've got bars that provide unique experiences that you'll want to share with your friends.
- Wandering Monsters: This brewery built in Anderson boasts everything from duckpin bowling (think "tiny bowling") to an onsite barbecue restaurant, a massive outdoor patio space, and even their own onsite brewery. There is comfortable lounge-style seating for those long game days or big tables if you end up with a group that's a little larger than you anticipated. It's a special place to catch a game (or get a little competitive with your friends!)
- Belterra Park's Stadium Sports Bar and Grill: A restaurant in a casino might not seem like one of the best sports bars in the city, but when you remember that sports betting is legal in Ohio, it makes more sense. Couple it up with live horse racing and plenty of televisions to catch the latest games while you bet on them. You see how this can quickly get fun, right?
Downtown and OTR
- Pins Mechanical: Combining duckpin bowling, arcade games, and a bar with plenty of TVs to snag any type of sport that might be on TV is a recipe for a bar that is destined to make this roundup. I have fallen in love with Pins as one of those bars that you know your group will be happy with, regardless of the personalities, sports preferences, or needs of the people around you. It perfectly gives a little something for everyone!
No matter your favorite sport, Cincy’s sports bars are second to none! Next time you’re in town grab amazing food, a great drink, relax, or even get yourself a little wound up while you’re cheering on our home teams.