Opening Day at Comerica Park is a big event in downtown Detroit, whether you go to the game or not.
And this year’s festivities, as the Detroit Tigers take on the Chicago White Sox at 1:10 p.m. at Comerica Park, may feel more like a normal Opening Day.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic postponed the 2020 Opening Day (which was ultimately moved to July). In 2021, Comerica Park was able to host fans at a limited capacity.
But this year, the vibe from restaurant and bar owners leading up to the home opener is close to the normal excitement for Opening Day.
Around the ballpark and the city’s downtown area, big outdoor and indoor parties are planned. Plenty of restaurants and bars are geared up with food and drink specials before, during, and after the game.
And for those going, there are new food items at Comerica Park, including several varieties of the Michigan Pasty and a hot chicken sandwich.
This is the first Opening Day for Union Assembly restaurant on Woodward Avenue. Curt Catallo, co-owner of the restaurant that’s part of Union Joints restaurant group with multiple various restaurant locations in metro Detroit, said he and his staff are ready.
“We’ve had Tigers tickets my whole lifetime. This is the first time we’ve been on this side of the curtain for Opening Day,” Catallo said.
The multilevel restaurant on Woodward Avenue had several days of soft openings in August, and it officially opened to the public in September. Its second-floor terrace has a view of Comerica Park.
“We got a little taste of the Tigers last year when Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) was chasing 500 (career home runs),” Catallo said. “That was an appetizer for Opening Day. This season, we are excited that he’s chasing 3,000 hits.”
For Opening Day, the restaurant is opening its outdoor seating area on Columbia Street, the pedestrian-friendly street between the restaurant and Fox Theatre. There, they’ll have more than 50 seats set up on Columbia Street and will offer several menu options, including breakfast sandwiches in the morning hours.
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Columbia Street will also have live DJ music, entertainment and interactive games.
“Our staff of 93 is ready,” Catallo said. “It’s a day where people are looking forward to getting back to the party and it’s our job to help host it.”
Here’s a sampling of places around the downtown area with game-day specials:
450 W. Fort St.
After a several-month closure, the iconic Anchor Bar reopened Tuesday. On Opening Day, the bar is hosting “Non-tailgate, tailgate.” They’ll offer fans $3 shooters, $4 draft beers, and $5 well drinks while watching the game. The party begins at 11 a.m. The drink special is set to run for the entire month of April.
For info: anchorbardetroit.com.
Brakeman, Mister Dips, Penny Red’s
The walkway behind the Shinola Hotel that stretches from Grand River to John R in downtown Detroit will have a DJ along the walkway that leads to the Brakeman, Mister Dips, and Penny Red’s. All three spots will open at 11 a.m. Friday for pregame offerings. Mister Dips has added “Eye of the Tigers” ice cream special in a mini baseball helmet. The ice cream is dipped in a coating and topped with blue, orange, and white sprinkles. It’s $7.99 and is available only on Friday.
Detroit Beer Co.
1529 Broadway St.
Just a short walk from Comerica Park, longtime Detroit Beer Co. has plenty of beer options but will feature some new menu items alongside their traditional bar offerings of burgers, sandwiches, and main dishes. New to the menu is a Mediterranean grilled flatbread, vegan pasta, and ricotta cheese ravioli. Its vegan quinoa tacos feature mixed vegetables topped with mango peach salsa, vegan cheese, avocado, and cilantro served on corn tortillas with a side of black beans and quinoa. Many of its menu items are vegan and gluten-free.
For info: 313-962-1529 or detroitbeerco.com.
Bookies Bar & Grille
2208 Cass Ave.
The annual Opening Day party starts at 7 a.m. at Bookies, located about two blocks Comerica Park. It will have a heated tent, which opens at 8 a.m. There’s entertainment with rotating DJs inside and out. Its rooftop seating will also be open. A limited menu will feature hamburgers, including the plant-based Beyond burger, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches. Cover charge for the bar is $20. Entry into the tent is free before 10 a.m. Limited seating can be reserved, call for details.
For info: 313-962-0319 or bookiesbar.com.
Detroit Home Opener Festival
440 Madison St.
This annual event returns after a two-year hiatus. Doors open at 9 a.m. for what’s billed as the “largest Opening Day party” set up at the corner of Madison and Brush streets. There will be heated tents, including beer tents and a full bar along with special menus. Food vendors include Crispelli’s Pizza, D-Motown Deli, Delray BBQ, Estia Greek Street Food, and Crazy Gringo Mexican Cantina. The outdoor party features DJs, bands, entertainment, food, games, and more. There will be open-air party patios with full bars and private reserved cabanas. Tickets are $20 per person and upwards for VIP tickets and ticket packages.
For info: 248-671-4151 or detroithomeopener.com.
Elwood Bar and Grill
300 E. Adams
Steps from Comerica Park, doors open at 8:30 a.m. There’s a full bar, food, two DJs, and an outdoor patio space. Broadcasting on-site will be 94.7-FM WCSX. The Killer Flamingos will play live on the first floor of the Gem Garage. There will be a giant video screen airing the game. Elwood is located at the corner of Brush and East Adams across from Comerica Park and Ford Field. $10 cover beginning at 10 a.m.
For info: 313-962-2337 or elwoodgrill.com.
Grand Slam Festival
350 Madison Ave.
On the grounds of the Music Hall Amphitheater at the corner of Madison and Randolph streets, the Opening Day part begins at 9 a.m. Friday. There will be big heated tents, 15 DJs, beer tents, food trucks, a full bar, music, games, and big screens for game watching. Tickets start at $20 for general admission, VIP and ultra VIP tickets are available.
For info: 248-543-1000 or grandslamdetroit.com.
2301 Woodward Ave.
This multilevel restaurant will have a DJ on the roof and a tent with a band on the patio. Doors open at 9 a.m. The menu will be limited. There’s pepperoni and cheese pizza, chips and salsa, chicken tenders, coney dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches.
For info: hockeytowncafe.com.
Mootz Pizzeria + Bar
1230 Library St.
The spot for New York-style pizza will have its full-service menu before or after the game. Mootz will open early at 9 a.m. Opening Day. Its menu has a wide selection of pizzas, starters, salads, pasta, and more. Mootz also has a to-go counter offering slices and cocktails.
For info: mootzpizzeria.com.
Nemo’s Bar & Grill
1384 Michigan Ave.
An Opening Day party has been a tradition at Nemo’s since the mid-1960s. Doors open at 9 a .m. There will be a heated tent in the parking lot with entertainment starting at 3 p.m. Nemo’s is known for its ground round burger and will serve it exclusively on Opening Day with fries. Cover charge is $5 with a shuttle available for customers to the game.
For info: 313-965-3180.
47 E. Adams
Next to Comerica Park, Tin Roof has three levels plus a rooftop seating area. Doors open at 8 a.m. Friday at this live music venue. A party after the game on Friday begins at 4 p.m. On the menu, Tin Roof is known for its Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. Its buttermilk fried chicken is rubbed with cayenne and served on Texas toast with ranch potato salad and pickles, according to its menu.
For info: 313-262-6114 or tinroofdetroit.com.
This is the first Opening Day for the multilevel Union Assembly, which opened in September. The restaurant, on the ground floor of Little Caesars’ world headquarters second-floor outdoor terrace has an elevated view of Comerica Park and Woodward Avenue. Doors will open at 8 a.m. It’s a first-come, first-served venue, with no reservations. There’s a special menu that includes the coney pizza, its newest menu item. On the Columbia Sstreet patio, there will be limited offerings including breakfast sandwiches and housemade pastries (available in the morning hours only), burgers, hot dogs, kielbasa, and pulled pork sandwiches. Eminem’s Mom’s Spaghetti has a spot in Union Assembly and there’s a walk-up window in the alley between Union Assembly and the Fillmore.
Contact Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky and send food and restaurant news to: [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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