Where to Watch Football in Cincinnati

UPDATE: The 2014-15 NFL season is about to kickoff. Hopefully your team pulled through the pre-season with no devastating injuries and it’s time to enjoy some actual real football. The only problem now is figuring out where to watch, especially if your team isn’t local. With that in mind, it’s time to revisit this blog post from last year. It’s still 100% relevant, meaning nobody went out of business and no other sports bars made the leap into my top five.

Where to watch football in Cincinnati
Watching football at Buffalo Wild Wings in Rookwood

One of the first things I asked about when I moved here was where to watch football in Cincinnati. I can’t believe that was four years ago. Even more troubling is that I’ve never written about my findings (and this is some serious research, mind you).

If you’re already thinking blah blah blah…just tell me where to go., then feel free to skip ahead to find the best place to watch football in Cincinnati.

First, I’d like to encourage you not to get fooled by this compilation from Metromix – like I did when I moved here. It’s fine if you’re only interested in watching one or two games, with the Bengals game being both of them. These are mostly fine establishments, but they DO NOT cater to the fan that wants to watch EVERY NFL game.

Second, if you’re wondering why you should listen to me, let me present some credentials. I moved from Chicago, my home for a decade and a somewhat transient city, that hosts a wide spectrum of NFL team fans besides da Bears. They know how to do a football Sunday Funday. I also go out just about every Sunday with my wife. She will validate any of these assessments. We root for different teams, neither local, so it’s important for us to see all the games. Plus she actually runs a money fantasy football league, so she’s double-y invested. Yeah, we’re serious about the NFL.

So what makes a great place to watch every NFL game?

Three things: TVs, TVs, TVs.

Actually, there’s more to it than just TVs. Food and atmosphere help round out the contributing factors. But the TV setup is clearly the most important thing here. So here are my picks for the places doing it right.

Top 5 Places to Watch NFL Football in Cincinnati

These are not listed in any particular order. The viewer’s proximity to the location plays a big role in determining where to go. Just know that all provide a great football-watching experience.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Rookwood/Hyde Park/Norwood)
http://www.buffalowildwings.com/

Buffalo Wild Wings Norwood - where to watch football in Cincinnati
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208

If you can get a seat in the bar area, you’re pretty much set up for every game. They have four large TVs (two side by side above the bar) and five smaller TVs in a line. Plus you have good sight lines to catch some of the bigger TV displays in the dining area. They work with you to make sure you can see the games you’re interested in, but it is first come first serve. So get there early.

The atmosphere is pretty festive, especially when the Bengals are on. If you go semi-often, you’ll definitely be able to turn strangers into friends as there is a regular crowd.

Drink specials generally include 23 oz drafts of either Miller Lite, Bud Light or Coors Light for $3. And while they’re working on expanding the menu, it’s still your typical bar fare. Just get the wings.

Putter’s (Liberty Township)
http://putterstavern.com/

Putter's in West Chester - where to watch football in Cincinnati
6575 Cincinnati Dayton Rd
Liberty Twp, OH 45044

Putter’s has a more limited setup, but the south bar has a nice wall of TVs (two large screens surrounded by several smaller ones). There are also many TVs scattered across the entire restaurant, but depending on where you can get a seat, they may not be viewable.

The atmosphere is usually pretty noisy and you may find yourself involved in some trash talk, so be prepared.

During the early games, they have a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar that is excellent. Choose from a variety of mixes and garnish with several cheese choices, olives, pickles, celery, salami, hot peppers and so much more. If that’s not meal enough, enjoy a gameday steak hoagie and fries for five bucks – your choice of mushroom or Italian and mozzarella.

Holy Grail (The Banks/Downtown)
http://www.holygrailcincy.com/html/banks/banks.php

Holy Grail at the Banks - where to watch football in Cincinnati
161 Joe Nuxhall Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202

The Holy Grail has really expanded its TV setup. All screens are large and crystal clear. There’s really not a bad seat in the house and they do a good job of labeling each TV so you know what game will be where.

It’s always loud and rowdy and quite often you can find ESPN radio personality Mo Egger there watching the games. Y’know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

They have your typical bar food fare and they do a good job with it. I don’t think they have any gameday deals that will really draw you in.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Newport/Ft. Thomas)
http://www.buffalowildwings.com/

Buffalo Wild Wings in Newport, KY - where to watch football in Cincinnati
83 Carothers Road
Newport, KY 41071

Best TV setup in Cincinnati. While the whole place is relatively small, they somehow packed in over 45 TVs, all 48” screens or larger and all crystal clear HDTV displays. Plus they have home theater-sized screens above the bar on both sides. The bar is in the middle (so it’s oval) and there are four sections surrounding the bar. Each section has at least eight TVs – needless to say, you can find all the games here. They’ll also work with you to get any game you want on any TV you want. This is where you will find me most Sundays.

The atmosphere isn’t as good as the Rookwood location (above), but it’s new and needs time to develop. It’ll come around, especially when people realize just how AWESOME the TV setup is.

I’ve already commented on the food. It’s the same here as Rookwood.

Willie’s (Covington)
http://www.williescovington.com/

Willie's - where to watch football in Cincinnati
401 Crescent Ave
Covington, Kentucky 41011

Willie’s has the Great Wall of Television. If you can get a seat in the bar, you can sit and stare at four huge screens surrounded by several smaller ones. If you sit in the dining area, the view’s not so good.

Willie’s is a fun place and the food is very good for bar fare – and pretty reasonably priced. The only thing that keeps me from going back more often is the smoke. One of these days NKY will get with the program and ban smoking.

Honorable Mention:

Thirsty’s Oasis (Mason)
http://www.thirstysoasis.com/ordereze/default.aspx

Willie's - where to watch football in Cincinnati
5579 A Ohio 741
Mason, OH 45040

Thirsty’s has a boatload of TVs, well-positioned throughout the bar and you can see all the games from just about wherever you sit. They even have an outdoor patio/bar with enough TVs to show all the games. However, they’re not real adept at working the remote, so you may have to wait awhile before the game you want hits the TV you’re watching.

They have a great selection of beers, but no real gameday specials. The food is good and varied, but I’ll recommend the Flying Pig Wings. And the Bloody Mary.

Did I Miss Your Fave?

Drop me a comment if you think I missed one. I’m always willing to try other places in my quest to find football heaven.

—Ryan Varney