Moerlein Lager House offers a robust selection of beers and beer-infused dishes. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Where to eat and drink before and after a Reds or Bengals game

If a trip to Great American Ballpark is on your to-do list this year, here’s a short list of some favorite downtown Cincinnati haunts that are all relatively easy to get to before or after the game.

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HOME RUN

CHRISTIAN MOERLEIN LAGER HOUSE

115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati | (513) 421-2337 | www.moerleinlagerhouse.com

The location for this sleek $10 million dollar restaurant and microbrewery couldn’t be more prime — sandwiched between the Queen City’s two downtown stadiums with striking views of the river.

Beer is used as a cooking agent in multiple dishes on the menu infused with German inspiration, ranging from the straight forward soft pretzels with beer cheese and spicy mustard ($7) to the Hops Smoked Pork Belly ($18).

Highlights include the signature Moer-Burger ($13) made with cheddar, pastrami, applewood bacon, fried egg, sweet onion relish and black pepper mayo. The decadent sandwich is every bit as delicious and bad for you as it sounds.

Fish Tacos made with Red pepper slaw, cilantro aioli, guacamole and tomatillo salsa ($12) are a light, flavorful choice perfect for an afternoon of patio dining and baseball. Other seafood dishes include herb butter served over dirty rice and Blackened Tilapia ($20), served over dirty rice with black bean-cucumber salsa, cilantro aioli and guacamole) also fit the bill for summer on the patio.

Stuffed sandwiches like the a sliced prime rib Philly Cheesesteak ($14), a hearty short rib grilled cheese ($14), a beer baron sausage ($13) and a beer can chicken melt ($12) will get you ready to start enjoying beers or reset after some ballpark drinks.

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OTHER HITS

HOLY GRAIL TAVERN & GRILLE

161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati | (513) 621-2222 | http://holygrailcincy.com/html/home/home.php

With more than 30 TVs peppered around the walls and a menu packed with bar food, if you go over on time you always know you can catch the start of the game at this popular sports bar located almost directly across from the Reds Hall of Fame. The menu is mostly the burgers, nachos, sandwiches and pizza you’d expect to find at a sports bar with a few surprises — most notably co-owner Paul Goebel’s Reuben wontons (2 for $6.49 or 4 for $10.49). It’s a solid, very affordable choice if you find yourself nearby with seating for 300, including an outdoor patio. 

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JEFFERSON SOCIAL

101 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati | (513) 381-2623 | jeffersonsocial.com

It’s like Mexican street food was curated with a ballpark food influence and paired with tasty beers, craft cocktails and a tequila list. Close to the ballpark, there’s nothing like some street corn on the cob ($3) served up steaming hot with chili lime mayo, cilantro and cotija cheese paired with something like a barbacoa taco salad ($10) or Korean tacos ($4.50 each or $12 for a platter). This isn’t a fancy place, but it’s someplace to stop before or after a ballgame that won’t break the bank.

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YARD HOUSE

95 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati | (513) 381-4071 | www.yardhouse.com

With 160 beer taps, this sports bar chain is the perfect spot to take the beer lover in your life. It offers American fare ranging from simple sandwiches to lobster dishes. It’s a great spot for large groups (plan in advance as they don’t take reservations) and has a menu that will please picky vegetarians or finicky meat eaters. Solid happy hour specials are a happy bonus.

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THE PHELPS BAR/TOP OF THE PARK

506 E. 4th St., Cincinnati | (513) 651-1234 | www.topoftheparkcincinnati.com

This is more of a place to grab drinks. The Phelps Bar is an open-air lounge on top of the Marriott Residence Inn that offers cocktails, small bites and a really cool setting that includes a fire pit and soft seating. With panoramic views not only of the ball park, but of the Ohio River, Mount Adams, Lytle Park, and downtown Cincinnati, this is a feast for the eyes. For this one be sure to check the calendar for details and to be sure the bar is open. 

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MITA’S

501 Race St., Cincinnati | (513) 421-6482 | mitas.co

Mita’s is about a half a mile from the stadium, is a little pricey and has a menu with nothing that would make you think of a ballgame. That said, it offers a delicious farm-to-table menu inspired by the foods of Spain and Latin America. The second restaurant from Chef Jose Salazar (located at the corner of Fifth and Race streets on the ground floor of the 84.51 building) boasts a menu with tapas, ceviches, cured hams, cheeses and large plates. 

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NADA

600 Walnut St., Cincinnati | (513) 721-6232 | www.eatdrinknada.com

Contemporary, hip and delicious, Nada’s menu puts modern twists on traditional menu and bar items. Braised Chicken Enchiladas, 40 Hour Short Ribs and Grilled Salmon are just a few dishes not to be missed in addition to the restaurant’s wonderful medley of taco options.

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NICHOLSON’S TAVERN & PUB

625 Walnut St., Cincinnati | (513) 564-9111 | nicholsonspub.com

Located across from Nada, Nicholson’s Tavern draws inspiration from the cozy pubs found throughout Great Britain. It has one of the largest selections of single malt scotch whiskies and more importantly, it has duck fat fries that can be ordered on their own or as part of the fish and chips. With Shepherd’s pie made with lamb and bangers and mash you might feel more like you’ve just seen an English soccer match than an American baseball game.

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ROCK BOTTOM RESTAURANT & BREWERY

10 E. Fountain Ave., Cincinnati | (513) 621-1588 | www.rockbottom.com/locations/cincinnati

This is another one of those restaurants that has a little something for everyone in your party. The made-to-order guacamole ($8.99) is a great group starter and the Bourbon Pecan Pie ($6.99) from their mason jar desserts is a sugary way to end it.

SHANGHAI MAMA’S

216 E. 6th St., Cincinnati | (513) 241-7777 | shanghaimamas.com

This late-night spot serves traditional Chinese food until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It’s usually relatively easy to get seated. Mama’s homemade noodles and wontons are a highlight as are the fun retro cocktails.

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