World Cup starts today and if you could not make to Brazil this year and are watching it in NYC -- you are in luck. Big Apple with its melting pot, diversity and multi cultural places, is almost the real deal - all of the excitement of soccer fans from around the world but much easier and cheaper; and you can experience it during your lunch break.
The idea is simple: instead of a dive bar with soccer and football fans alike, fighting for screen time or that bar we usually go to that’s full of drunk jocks, go to the native community of your favorite team. Routing for the Germans - plenty beer gardens will have the stadium spirit; Brazilians - take the train across the river into Astoria and mingle with the passionate and the beautiful while you watch Neymar score. Here are my recommendations and routes for my favorite (and arguably strongest) teams of this World Cup:
You could probably go to the “Little Brazil” in the heart of Manhattan (W 46st btw 5th & 7th Ave) but that will be full of tourists so I recommend going to Astoria, Queens - a home to many Brazilians in NYC who consider this neighborhood to be the “real” Little Brazil. Stop by a number of restaurants packed with local fans. One is Ipanema Grill (28-19 Steinway St., Astoria; (718) 545-227) — the owner, Selma Barone, said that her Brazilian market is always a great choice to watch the World Cup. Another is Favela Grill (33-18 28th Ave., Astoria; (718) 545-8250) which will supply all Brazilian fans with beer towers, Caipirinha drink specials and Brazil swag giveaways.
A known place is Boca Juniors Restaurant, 81-08 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst; (718) 429-2077. “Boca Juniors has the best fan base to cheer the Argentinean team”, said co-owner Patricia Coni. "The place gets packed!” Looking for something less crowded? A small neighborhood block in Flushing on the corner of Corona Ave & Junction Boulevard has several places: La Esquina Criolla - 9467 Corona ave, Flushing NY 11373 -(718)-699-5579; next door: Rio De la Plata - a bakery with the best breakfast around and some pretty amazing fans; and across the street - Carniceria y Parrillada (718) -271-8198. The whole block comes alive with Argentinean fans on the day of the game. Last time all places showing the game were full; so someone just put a big TV in his garage next door where many people would just stop by and watch. Very local, very cool block.
Skip Little Italy and head to Brooklyn. Several Bay Ridge bars along 3rd ave show live games: Salty Dog Restaurant Bar & Grill (7509 Third Ave, Brooklyn NY 11209, Tel: 718-238-0030) and Bench Sports Bar (8812 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209, b/t 88th St & 89th St. 718-833-2020) are the largest and loudest. But if you want to watch the game with the pros - Café Romeo, at 7111 20th Ave., in Bensonhurst is where the old school fans hang. Bring your cigarettes. And your Italian team jersey.
Any German beer garden will be the place to be. Zum Stammtisch (69-46 Myrtle Ave., Glendale, Brooklyn; 718-386-3014). The Bavarian way is the best way to watch the German soccer team. Zum Stammtisch has the beer and the brats to make German fans feel like they're right in Deutschland.
Laid-back hangout below the Spanish Benevolent Society, La Nacional restaurant (239 W. 14th St., Manhattan, (212) 929-7873) - serving tapas and paellas; authentic and non-pretentious. You can go to the bar section and try to reason with the mostly Real Madrid fans watching live games.
Many would think Brighton Beach right away — and there many places to watch soccer on Brighton beach ave and especially on the boardwalk — all restaurants there will be showing games. Combine it with the beach and some svekolnik and make a day out of it. Personally - I like two places on Ave X in Brooklyn. Draft Barn (317 Avenue X, Brooklyn, NY 11223; 718-285-2356) — big place with 2 rooms, 2 bars and an outdoor space — many plasma screens with sound. Authentic Russian food, cheap beers and good company. Downhouse lounge ( 250 Ave X, Brooklyn, NY; 718-627-3200) showing games every day in the outdoor patio (weather permitting) or inside. HD projection, beer specials
Feel free to explore and make your own. Share it with us via comments below.