Opening day is right around the bend. Detroit is crazy about sports and opening day may be the ultimate expression of that love. It’s time to have some fun. Opening day is Detroit’s wildest day. There are even efforts to make Opening Day an official holiday.
There are countless tailgate parties around the city and you only need to find a place to park, unroll your version of fun and go to work. You will find thousands of like-minded aficionados throwing a football around, barbecuing their favorite meat, and tipping back their favorite drink. Many will visit the multitude of bars that deliver a true Detroit opening day experience.
So where you should go to find the party? We created a list here that is not meant to be definitive, but rather serve as a guide to help you find a good place to have some fun on opening day.
Lately, it seems that each year it looks like the Huns have sacked Rome the morning after the party. Trash is blowing through the parking lots, broken glass litters the asphalt and the city or the good folks at Clean Downtown are left to clean up the mess. Let’s try to make this year a little bit better than the last. By early afternoon the bars and restaurants are filled with wobbly people, demanding more ranch and knocking over the bottle in front of them.
2482 Clifford, Detroit
Harry’s is wild. Plain and simple. Easily accessible from the major highways and walking distance to the game. They open their doors at 7 a.m. and will be packed first thing in the morning and will still be packed well after it gets dark. There is free parking, a shuttle to Comerica Park. There will also be live music. If you are looking to have some fun, this is a great stop, and there will be a live broadcast from 93.9, The River.
1384 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Some of us were not old enough to remember going to a game at old Tiger Stadium in Corktown. Nemos was there the whole time. They were and still are one of the best places to spend the opening day. For a $5 cover, you’ll get live music from The Polish Muslims starting at 5 pm, heated tents, whatever you’d like to drink, and a free shuttle with cover to get to the ballpark and back. And as they tell me, “Everything is special on opening day!”
18oo Michigan Avenue, Detroit
Bobcat Bonnie’s has become a favorite haunt on the weekend to take advantage of their bloody, and mimosa bar. This year for opening day they will be serving their gastro-pub style food all day, various drink specials, including $3 Guinness, $3 domestics, and $10 dollar Bud Light pitchers throughout the celebration.
Town Pump Tavern
100 W. Montcalm, Detroit
Right across the way from Comerica park, this is one of the best parties on opening day. There will be a heated tent, parties indoors and outdoors, 18 beers on tap and flat-screen TVs to watch the Tigers play their first game. The doors open at 8 a.m. and there will be BBQ for when it’s time to take a break from the beers. Cover starts low and will increase as the day goes on, so get there early. Added bonus, DJ Ric-Nasty, and DJ Zig Zag are putting down the sound all day.
2040 Park Ave., Detroit
Yes, there is a Park Avenue in Detroit, and it boasts one of the best bars to spend opening day. There are 48 beers on draft, and many of those are from Michigan and drink specials all day. When you need something to soak up all those suds, Gogo’s Hawaiian Street Food will be there all day. It will be packed all morning, day, and night. It’s located right across the street and just around the corner from the game. There is no cover between 8 and 9 a.m., so get there early.
2208 Cass, Detroit
Opening day is big business for Bookies and they do not mess around. All 3 floors are open and there is a huge tent party outside. Their patio upstairs now has a retractable cover, so if the weather doesn’t cooperate you can still catch those awesome views of downtown. If you are going to the game there is a shuttle and if you are staying at Bookies they have 7 bars and numerous beer tubs so you won’t have to wait for a drink. There’s going to be a real party atmosphere with a DJ under the tents and another inside the building. You can also try their game-day special of a pitcher and four shots for $15. In addition to a shuttle to the game, Bookies is also offering a shuttle from the Masonic Temple to their party. There will be a cover starting at 8. When we called, the girl on the other end said “bars like every 15 feet, and specials all,” sounds perfect.
Cheli’s Chili Bar
47 E. Adams St., Detroit
Former Detroit Red Wing and future hall of fame defenseman Chris Chelios opened this bar and restaurant right across the street from Comerica Park. You can literally hear the game from their outdoor party and see parts of it from the roof. This place serves as a sort of ground central station for opening day. It gets rowdy, but it’s a good time. They have 36 flat-screen TVs to watch all the action on the field, tons of drinks, and of course, chili. All 3 floors have drinks and specials, there will be food trucks outside, and 17 foot double-sided TV truck for the tailgate. There is even a fast-pitch challenge this year, and music from local DJ’s,
Rub BBQ Pub
18 W. Adams, Detroit
Besides excellent BBQ, The Rub BBQ Pub also has what they say is downtown’s largest beer selection (always open for debate). They will be opening up at 7 a.m. so you can get a start on the beer list. A DJ will keep the party going all day and into the evening. Their large garage doors will be open allowing access to the parties going on inside and out. It is right around the corner from the Fox Theater. They open at 7 a.m. and there won’t a cover until after 11 a.m., so be sure to get there early. You can catch the game on one of their 20+ HD big screen TVs, and 12 large scale projectors.
419 Monroe, Detroit
The Firebird is a great stop on an Opening Day bar crawl. Located in Greektown just a few minutes from the stadium, this is a perfect spot for your first, or last few drinks. Inside there is two floors of good times and they will be serving their homemade food all day. This is one of our favorite spots, any day of the week. There is a tent outside with tons of drinks if it is too busy inside.
The Elwood Bar and Grill
300 Adams Ave., Detroit
Location, location, location is the key to The Elwood. This place occupies the prime corner just outside of Comerica Park’s left field. This is a staple for opening day and all the other games that follow along after. Originally built in 1936, the bar was moved to the corner of Adams and Brush when they made way to build the new ballpark. This is worth the visit and is literally the closest saloon to the park.
Detroit Beer Company
1529 Broadway, Detroit
Strategically located on Broadway, just around the corner from Comerica Park, The Detroit Beer Company is an ideal place to get silly for Opening Day. They are getting started at 9 a.m. and there is a huge tent out front. You can’t miss it. They will be serving all of their great food all day, if you start to fade. All of their beer is made on site, and those craft beers are being given away in 20 oz cups for $6. If your’e going to the game, Detroit Beer Co. is a great stop on the way.
519 E. Jefferson Avenue, Detroit
This is a newcomer on the Detroit bar scene, it is located in the old Tom’s Oyster bar right on Jefferson. They have a rooftop deck, 22 craft beers on tap, including three nitro options. They will be serving their innovative, and delicious menu all day, along with a DJ to keep the fun going.
McShane’s Irish Pub
1460 Michigan Avenue, Detroit
No matter the event, McShane always throws down. This is one of the favorite places for Opening Day and any day for that matter. They will open the doors at 7 a.m. In their Biergarten outback, there is a huge tent, and they will be grilling up food all day. There will be an Arbor Brewing Company tap take over to keep the beers flowing and a DJ to keep the fun moving.
Tigers’ opening day is a wild and fun affair in Detroit, and to many, its the most important day of the year. If you have never done it, it’s worth doing at least once, and that once will most likely turn into many. Not having tickets to the game doesn’t matter. There is fun to be had everywhere. We have spent the entire game in many different spots throughout the city. This is a list of places we know well and have checked out.