In America, soccer is just another unappreciated sport. For the rest of the world, the beautiful game is a bit like a religion. The World Cup? All holy days packed into one month of star-studded, prime-time soccer.
If you’re thinking of converting, either for the duration of the Cup or just for a night, hit the town to join the soccer die-hards in some of the best sports bars across America. Don’t know where to go? We’ve got you covered.
NEVADA SMITH’S – NEW YORK CITY
100 3rd Ave.
Nevada Smith’s has been a staple of the NYC soccer scene since it opened its doors in 1993. It recently reopened its doors in 2013 in East Village after an 18-month construction hiatus. The new site offers four floors, each equipped with 14 TV monitors, solely dedicated to soaking up the beautiful game. The bar also has three projector screens, two of which are nearly 20 feet tall.
Owner Paddy McCarthy explains that the bar is designed to give fans the most immersive soccer experience. “The atmosphere is just unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “With the big screens, we have surround sound, so it’s like you’re at the stadium.”
But the experience doesn’t stop there. To lend local flavor to the opening ceremonies on Thursday, Nevada Smith’s treated its patrons to samba music by a local Brazilian band. The bar will hold various viewing parties throughout the Cup as well.
If you do venture down to Nevada Smith’s for highly anticipated games, arrive early. McCarthy expects the bar to reach its 400-person capacity for nearly every game of the monthlong tournament. “You get every nationality coming in no matter whether their team is playing or not,” he said.
THE BANSHEE – BOSTON
934 Dorchester Avenue
(617) 523 -5063
Boston is known for its die-hard sports fans, but the soccer faithful who frequent the Banshee in Dorchester, Mass., take fandom to a whole new level. For starters, the bar is an official watering hole of the American Outlaws, the US national team’s fan organization. The Outlaws will hold viewing parties at the Banshee for all U.S. games. That means patriotic chants, outrageous red, white and blue get-ups and coordinated profanities.
For non-Yankee games the Banshee hosts a large international population. “We’re a very diverse bar,” owner Ray Butler said. The bar is on the cozy side, with a maximum capacity of 150 people. Given that the bar is Boston’s soccer mecca, Butler recommends coming at least an hour before kick-off for American games.
The Banshee has two floors, so patrons won’t have to pick between games during later phases when multiple games are televised simultaneously. “This is going to be the best month ever,” Butler said. “The only way it could be better is if [you] were actually in Brazil.”
If you’re looking to party with the locals, check out one of the Brazilian restaurants in Framingham. Viewing events tend to be less organized than metropolitan sports bars, but if you are in the neighborhood after a victory, expect a roaring good time.
SUSHI SAMBA – MIAMI BEACH
600 Lincoln Road
Sushi Samba in Miami Beach, Fla., is the place to party with Brazilians while watching Neymar Jr. and company. Although this restaurant is not known as a sports hub, it has been transformed for the World Cup. Three projector screens were installed on each side of the dining room to give guests a view of every match.
“For Brazilian games, the inside of the restaurant turns into a party,” manager Mark Yeshoua said. During halftime and after the games, Sushi Samba’s in-house DJ and live samba dancers for Brazilian games provide a local experience rivaled only by the host country. Patrons can also win a four-day trip to Carnaval 2015 in Rio de Janeiro by entering the “Samba Selfie” contest.
The restaurant’s fusion cuisine takes cues from Brazil, Peru and Japan. World Cup fans can be grateful that the drink menu draws mostly upon Brazil for inspiration. Be sure to try a Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil.
For soccer fans looking for more of a pub-vibe, check out Fado Irish Pub in Brickell. Fado will show all 64 World Cup games and is a officially endorsed by the US Soccer national team.
YE OLDE KING’S HEAD PUB – LOS ANGELES
116 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, Calif.
Ye Olde King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica, Calif., is the place to be if you support the Three Lions. “It’s electric” said operations manager Lisa Powers of watching England on the pitch.
Founded in 1974, the King’s Head is a three-trick pony: a festive bar, gift shop and restaurant known for its fish ‘n’ chips.
The bar does not organize official viewing parties for matches, but that won’t stop a rowdy crowd of English ex-pats and Americans alike from filling the bar to its 215-person capacity. Powers said fans come for the soccer and stay for the banter with bartender Raul Dourado.
If you do make the drive to Santa Monica, be sure to arrive early if you want a seat in front of one of the King’s Head’s 15 TVs. Plus you don’t want to miss the fans’ pregame rituals. “We do the build-up with some old soccer songs. Everybody’s singing, everybody’s got their flags in the air,” Powers said. “It’s like being at a game back home.”
Just be sure to wear your red and white.