Once every four years, soccer gets elevated to the status of Sport America Actually Cares About, as the World Cup–the month-long tournament starts in South Africa on Friday–captivates casual fans of the game. Looking for a spot to watch and cheer? Below some of our favorite football bars. Any we missed? Add them in the comments below.
Woodwork, 583 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, 718-857-5777
Owned by a fervent soccer fan, Woodwork (above) is a far cry from your average sports bar: Its defining feature is not the three 50-inch flat-screens that show soccer 24/7 but rather the salvaged oak bar that wraps around its L-shaped room. Woodwork claims to be for both footie and foodie fans, and its menu doesn’t disappoint, boasting more than 20 craft bottled beers as well as organic wines, panini, sandwiches, and fancier fare like cheese truffle macaroni. World Cup Specifics: Woodwork will open at 6am to show all the Cup matches, the earliest of which starts at 7:30am. However, they’re requiring reservations for the more popular weekend games (like, yes, USA’s opener against England on Saturday). Make yours now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Black Horse Pub, 568 5th Avenue, Park Slope, 718-788-1975
Unlike many bars that show soccer all weekend long, you won’t find a bunch of beery hooligans at the Black Horse Pub. Instead you’ll encounter a quieter breed of soccer fan, one who’s content to watch a match on one of the bar’s three sizable flat screens while savoring a meal off its menu of traditional British pub fare. Tall tin ceilings and a long wooden bar open up this lengthy space, while two walls’ worth of windows let in plenty of morning and midday sun. World Cup Specifics: An official partner bar of the World Cup, the Black Horse is kicking off the Cup with an opening-day party at 6pm, offering $4 pints, fish and chips specials, and the chance to win signed English football jerseys and two tickets to an upcoming Red Bull-LA Galaxy game. The deals continue with $4 Radeberger pints throughout the Cup. And the bar will open early enough to show every game.
Iona, 180 Grand Street, Williamsburg, 718-384-5008
Iona’s devotion to soccer may be subtle–it displays no game-related flair, and it tucks its two flat-screens above its front door–but it’s there all the same: On weekends the bar pulls down a projection screen over its back wall to show English football matches to the fans jammed into its cozy confines. Patrons can enjoy the 20 craft beers the bar has on tap, or venture out into its spacious backyard, complete with ping-pong table, to take a breather between games. World Cup Specifics: Ever dedicated to the sport, Iona will also be showing all the Cup games. The bar is on the small and narrow side, so be sure to get there early to score a seat.
Berry Park, 4 Berry Street, Williamsburg, 718-782-2829
If breathing room is critical to your soccer-viewing experience, Berry Park is the place for you. This giant, high-ceilinged beer hall offers plenty of seating at long wooden tables, adequately spaced to ensure you’re not breathing down your neighbor’s neck. Even better is the equally large rooftop deck, where you can gaze at Manhattan while sampling one of the bar’s many German and Belgian beers. World Cup Specifics: Berry Park, which shows soccer games throughout the sport’s regular season, is showing every Cup match, projecting them onto a large screen hung on one of its vast walls.
The Roebling Inn, 97 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights, 718-488-0040
This quaint neighborhood tavern (above), which opened last December, provides some of the best game-watching views around. Two flat screens can easily be seen whether you’re sitting at the Inn’s understated bar or in a recessed seating area across from it, while two more flat screens face tables in both the front and back of the room. On tap are ten craft beers, many of them local, while a menu of Dub pies, brats, cheese and pretzels ensures you’ll stay well fed while you watch. World Cup Specifics: Although the bar says it’s showing every match, we couldn’t confirm it would open early enough for the first games of the day. Should you really need to catch those 7:30am matches, head a block down Atlantic to the Chip Shop, which will definitely be showing them live.
Madiba, 195 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene, 718-855-9190
Next to actually watching the games live in Cape Town, you can’t get a more authentic experience this Cup than by watching at Madiba. The South African restaurant, whose name is a reference to Nelson Mandela, serves regional cuisine so bona fide (pap & boerewors, anyone?) it’ll make an ex-pat miss home. The restaurant’s South African sourcing extends to its lengthy list of wines as well. World Cup Specifics: Madiba will be showing all the games live on their big screens. Be sure to stop by on June 29, when PlayBeautiful’s traveling pop-up stadium–a 200-seater indoor theater–will alight on the restaurant’s doorstep.
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By Nina Pearlman, sent by Annaliese. Photos by Moira Haney.