Today begins the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. Even if you secretly prefer to watch American football, this is the time of year to pretend that you don't. And face it: The football that the rest of the world obsesses over is a thousand times more beautiful to watch than a bunch of fat men in helmets. With or without Lionel Messi. So, for the next happy month, enjoy watching some amazing games, preferably in the company of many loud fans and in a place that serves great food and drink.
There are plenty of L.A. bars and restaurants that will help you out, opening early, offering specials and staying open at odd times, and keeping the plates and glasses coming.
Start out with the opening match, at noon between Brazil and Croatia, at Loteria Grill. All locations of Jimmy Shaw's glorious paean Mexican food will have Caipirinhas, Margaritas, tacos and more, plus big screen TVs. There's a minimum of $20 per game, per person, but if you've ever eaten Shaw's taco sampler, you'll know that this won't be a problem.
Ray's & Stark Bar will be doing something a bit fancier, as befits the Patina Group restaurant at LACMA, by putting together small bites and cocktails that pair with the specific team matchups. Thus for Brazil vs. Croatia: beef skewers with salsa verde with Croatian kir with maraschino cherry liquor, honey syrup and sparkling wine. And for Friday's game between Chile and Australia: empanadas with an Australian-inspired cocktail called the 1788, made with gin and apricot liquor. And so on as the games progress.
Wurstküche in Venice will be opening at 8:45 a.m. to serve up breakfast, coffee and beer while they show the matches on a 70" HD screen TV set up specifically for the World Cup. They'll have special Yellow Card and Red Card breakfasts, as well as beer specials. Oh, and $1 bottomless cups of Groundworks coffee, so everybody survives the fun.
To accomodate British soccer fans, as well as the rest of us, the Cat & Fiddle will be showing all the games live on their projector screens and monitors. There will be Heineken drink specials in addition to the pub's mix of traditional British food. (Check out the pub's handy calendar.)
Sidebar, the bar adjacent to Wolfgang Puck's swank CUT in the Beverly Wilshire, will be adding additional televisions, as well as an extended food menu. So between yelling bouts, choose from Maryland blue crab rolls, spanakopita, American wagyu steak skewers and the classic CUT cheeseburger. Lots of drinks too.
If Irish pubs are more your thing than Beverly Hills cocktail lounges, Rock & Reilly's pub will be open early for the games. They'll also be showing them on 16 high-definition TVs, have $10 World Cup-themed cocktails on hand, and mini personal Bud Light fridges for your table upon request. Right.
At the SLS Hotel, two big-screen televisions have been brought into Tres, one of Jose Andres' restaurants, to show games during breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Tres' private dinning room is available for private bookings. Starting Monday, June 16, the poolside cabanas up on the Altitude Pool Deck will have personal TV's for rent to watch the games, and there will be poolside lunch menus available from Jose Andres' kitchen. Call 310-246-5551 to reserve private rooms and 310-246-5552 to reserve cabanas.
For soccer fans in the San Gabriel Valley, Alhambra's Hot Red Bus, billed as L.A.'s first British Indian chip shop, will be opening early to accomodate games.
Alpine Village, the German brewpub in Torrance, is showing every game (even the early ones) on two video projectors and eight big screen TVs. They'll also have beer and brat specials as well as ½ time raffle giveaways, beer steins and Oktoberfest T-shirts.
Wirtshaus will be showing games on six flatscreen TVs, with food and drink specials, sponsor giveaways and a soccer skills contest.
Beer Belly in Koreatown will be opening early for various games, including at 11:30 a.m. on June 17 for the Brazil vs. Mexico game, at 11 a.m. on June 22 for the S. Korea vs. Algeria game, 12:30 p.m. on June 23 for the Croatia vs. Mexico game, and 8:30 a.m. on June 26 for the USA vs. Germany game. Check their website for updates Plenty of beer. Duck-fat fries. Duck French dip.
Soccer is taken very seriously at Waterloo & City, as you'd imagine, given that exec. chef Brendan Collins is from the north of England and GM Carolos Tomazos is from Cyprus. The Culver City gastropub will open thirty minutes prior to game-time, the games will be shown on both TV's and a large-format screen, and there will be plenty of food and drink specials.
Starting June 28, the Hammer Museum in Westwood will be doing live World Cup broadcasts, with huge HD screens in the Annex and Billy Wilder Theater. And at Ammo at the Hammer, there will be World Cup specials, including stewed pork or chicken tacos, house-made chips with salsa, Palma Louca Brazilian lager and Brahma Brazilian beer. Check out the broadcast schedule for specific game times.
Because the upcoming USA vs. Germany match is so important - and so laced with drama, given all the connections between the coaches and players - Mohawk Bend is opening at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, for the match. There are several TVs in the bar area and a drop-down screen, 72 taps of craft beer, and lots of good food. If you missed that match, there's always the rest of them - and all that beer.
If you're in Burbank instead of Echo Park, Tony's Darts Away will be doing much the same thing for the USA-Germany game, opening up at 8:45 a.m. and turning all TVs to the game. There are 38 brews on tap, and they'll be serving weekend brunch on Thursday.
Also for the USA-Germany game, the pub at Golden Road will be open early, at 9 a.m., and not only will inside televisions be showing the game, but the outdoor side lawn will be reserved especially for fans - with speakers to hear above the rest of the noise.
The Morrison will be open early, at 9 a.m., for all morning games, and at 8:45 a.m. for the USA-Germany game. There will be breakfast specials (breakfast burritos and breakfast burgers), morning drinks (mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer floats), and Guinness will be $4 during World Cup games.
Leave it to German-born football fan Hans Rockenwagner to celebrate the World Cup in particular style. In honor of the tournament, Rockenwagner has installed a 60" big-screen television at Cafe Rockenwagner, his newest restaurant in Brentwood, and has invented a burger special: a 100% grass-fed beef patty with braised pork belly, hearts of palm and tomato on a soccer ball brioche bun, served with black beans. Note that the brioche bun actually looks like a soccer ball. Pretzel Happy Hour starts at 5:00 p.m.; valet parking is $2 before 7:00 p.m.
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Since this is a long month, let us know about other great places to watch the World Cup and we'll add them to this list. There are doubtless many we've missed.
(Editor's note: This post has been updated since initial publication, to add more listings.)