The World Cup is nothing like the Olympics. Everyone knows who won and understands how they did it. Everyone knows what a goal is. Everyone enjoys a scoring celebration. Because of that – and because Team USA needs all the support it can get – a crowd makes the event far more entertaining. Drinks don’t hurt either. Here are the bars that will get busy during the tournament, and regulars walk the line between enthusiasm and hooliganism.
Mad Dog in the Fog, San Francisco
The Vibe: Mad Dog in the Fog is a great bar, popular for its trivia nights, excellent beer selection, and being blessedly free of tech industry chatter and Mission District pretensions. The place is always at its best during games, and this World Cup will be no different. This is where the city’s day drinkers will congregate to cheer on the boys in white.
The Game to Watch: Come watch the U.S. take on Portugal on June 22. This rumble in the Amazon jungle will make all the difference for the Americans, which means the game is going to get extremely physical.
Zum Schneider, New York
The Vibe: Zum Schneider is a German biergarten in the East Village, which means that the fans cheering on the Nationalmannschaft from the benches are going to be more than a little buzzed. There will be lederhosen, there will be wurst, there will be boots full of beer, and there will be a lot of avuncular yelling. Because the bar is a hangout for German expats in the city, American patrons can expect to learn a lot about obscure teutonic cities and Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Game to Watch: Germany takes on Portugal on June 16, and it’s bound to be a great game wherever you watch it.
Fifty/50 Bar, Chicago
The Vibe: With its cavernous indoor space and tables outside, Fifty/50 Bar is a major destination for soccer fans because it’s the one establishment in Chicago where they might actually get a seat. The food is also notably good, so fans tend to hang out for multiple games at a time. The mood of the crowd will have more to do with whether or not the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup than if the U.S. Men’s National Team makes it out of their group, but expect perogie-fueled enthusiasm regardless.
The Game to Watch: The Ukrainian Village neighborhood got its name for a reason, so expect the locals to turn out for any team that goes up against Russia. The bar will be hopping when Belgium, the world’s smallest soccer superpower, takes on Putin’s boys on June 22.
Sidewalk Cafe and Bar, Los Angeles
The Vibe: Unlike the other bars on this list, the Sidewalk Cafe, which boasts a sizable bar area, won’t be a destination for soccer fans during the World Cup. It will still be one of the best places to watch the tournament, because its location just off the Venice boardwalk facilitates walk-ins. Angelenos love a trend, so close games may fill the place up and blowouts will probably empty it. Galaxy star Landon Donovan, who will likely be coming off the bench, will get big cheers.
The Game to Watch: Venice remains a largely Latino community, so the Mexican team may be nearly as popular as the U.S. team with this particular crowd. Be there when El Tri take on Cameroon on June 13.
Fado Irish Pub, Washington, D.C.
The Vibe: Watching the Beltway try to get excited about sports can be painful (Nationals fans are often too busy networking to watch the game), but Fado’s reliably draws a sports-loving crowd. Part of a chain, the sports bar six blocks from The Mall, is all about soccer. In fact, the place is offering $1 million to the fan that can accurately bracket out the whole tournament. It’s probably not going to happen, but it will be entertaining to watch congressional aides curse their luck.
The Game to Watch: Anti-Russian sentiment is high in D.C. Expect Fado’s to be hopping when Belgium, the world’s smallest soccer superpower, takes on Putin’s boys on June 22.
The British Bulldog, Denver
The Vibe: The place may look like your typical Arsenal bar in London, but The British Bulldog is actually the unofficial headquarters of the American Outlaws, the U.S. team’s extremely enthusiastic fan army. That means you might want to put on a Chris Wondolowski jersey before waving into the screaming crowd and ordering a local microbrew and some curry.
The Game to Watch: When the U.S. kicks off against Ghana on June 16, the bar will be as packed with Outlaws as a John Ford flick.
Kells Irish Restaurant, Seattle
The Vibe: Kells Irish Restaurant may be the least raucous establishment on this list, but it will be rocking on weekday mornings thanks to its location downtown near the Pike Place market. In soccer-obsessed Seattle, business will slow as besuited management types linger over breakfast to make sure they don’t miss a stoppage time shocker. If Sounders star Clint Dempsey scores a goal, expect the place to go absolutely crazy.
The Game to Watch: As the second round kicks off on June 28, the Sounders will be facing D.C. United. Kells will screen both games for what could be a massive crowd.
The Greatest Bar, Boston
The Vibe: The Greatest Bar is dominated by a 14-foot television screen and locals who have spent years refining their cheering and heckling skills. Because the place is technically in Cambridge, a hub of higher learning that draws students from all over the world, there will always be one or two people in the bar who truly, deeply care about a game’s outcome. On top of that, there will likely be 20 people eager to make fun of those fans – while buying them bottles of Sam Adams.
Clive’s Public House, Portland
The Vibe: Named for Clive Charles, the Portland Timbers star who became the University of Portland’s coach, Clive’s Public House is the bar and restaurant portion of Rose City Futsal, a massive indoor soccer complex. The bar will be playing World Cup games while actual games take place a few feet away. Expect a lot of hardcore fans with a deep knowledge of tactics second-guessing USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s every decision. That probably means that people will be spending a lot of time talking about fishing.