Are you ready for some football — and food?
The National Football League’s first Monday Night Football game is set for Sept. 8. The date marks the return of that Monday night ritual of fall and winter that so many Americans follow: gathering with friends at a local sports grill to wind down after work, enjoy appetizers and dinner and revel in America’s game on a big screen TV surrounded by people rooting (some more vociferously than others) for their team.
Some folks put a lot of thought into where exactly to bring the crew for the weekly to-do.
Here’s an abbreviated run-down of the offerings available at eateries catering to sports fans in the Ojai Valley:
• Ojai Sports Grill: Already popular Tuesday nights among Trivia players, Ojai Sports Grill is gearing up for its first full season of NFL football. They will offer $1 off on draft beer and half-price appetizers during halftime.
The El Roblar Drive business features both indoor and outdoor seating with eight televisions. They serve wine and have eight beers on tap.
Owner Marc Sauer — usually in the kitchen doing his magic — says he is very excited about the restaurant’s first full football season.
• JJ’s Sports Zone: This Oak View restaurant will also be having its first go at Monday Night Football under new management.
And like Ojai Sports Grill, they, too, offer the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor Monday Night Football experience as they plan to have at least one big-screen television tuned to the game on the patio. Inside, they have 11 more TVs.
Craig Lindsey tends the bar, which was recently remodeled and now features a beautiful granite top.
In addition to $1 off on selected beers, JJ’s will be offering half-off on selected appetizers during Monday Night Football games.
They carry eight beers on tap and serve both pints and schooners. Along with Soule Park they are the only sports grill that offers a full bar.
• Soule Park Golf Course: Enjoy a bit of golf before kickoff at this restaurant and bar. Owners Tom and Debbie York invite golfers to come an hour before the game to participate in an abbreviated five-hole Shootout Derby and then stay for the game.
During the football game, golfers and non-golfers alike can enjoy $3 appetizer specials (including garlic fries and street tacos), $1 off draft beers and well drinks, $3 off pitchers as well as raffle prizes throughout the game.
The bar affords patrons four televisions and eight beers on tap.
• Ojai Pizza: This downtown Ojai spot has been popular for Monday Night Football fans for a number of years now. Management says they do not plan to offer any specials on Monday nights, but they do provide seven televisions and 13 beers on tap.
The promotion seems to work as they are busy on a regular basis during MNF.
• Giorgio’s Tap Room: At the eastern edge of the downtown area, Giorgio’s is also a major player on the Monday Night Football front.
New owners Gareth Croxall and Allison Walter are also looking forward to the MNF festivities. They offer 23 beers on tap, and, said Croxall, “We’ll be rotating them during the season, but we’ll always have an IPA, a porter, a stout and various local beers.”
Giorgio’s Tap Room, which has seven televisions, will offer various food specials every week, always anchored by their nachos.
“We’ve totally changed the menu here,” said Croxall. “We’ve added a grill, and no more frozen food. All fresh and local.”
Much to the delight of Ojai’s sports eateries, fantasy footballers and football purists alike, the NFL offers a double-header to kick off the season on Sept. 8. The Detroit Lions host the New York Giants at 4 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. with the San Diego Chargers at the Arizona Cardinals.