[Photo: Jonathan Goldberg]
Couldn’t afford Brazil? Us neither, but since London is mainlining enough caipirinha-laced Carnival spirit to floor an army of samba bands, we don’t mind. Tristan Parker gives you the insider’s guide on where to watch the action and enjoy the atmosphere, and cuisine, of a whole host of competing countries – handy when England make an early exit.
This ace Nigerian eaterie has scaled down its operation to a smaller, primarily takeaway joint, but there are still tables to sit at and a TV on which to watch the action. Plus, the cosier venue size just means a more intimate vibe when the fans crowd in to enjoy the matches.
Dish: Spicy iye-mase stew. The recipe is a family secret, but considering it’s been made for eight generations, we think they’re probably on to a winner.
7 Bradbury St, N16 8JN. Overground: Dalston Kingsland.
Bar Italia (Italy)
This much-loved family-run café has long been a favourite haunt for London’s Italian community to watch their beloved Azzurri. When Italy won the 2006 World Cup, it sparked a massive street party outside Bar Italia that spread through the streets of Soho.
Dish: Traditional pizzas are served or you could get naughty and fill up on cannoli (Italian pastries) and espresso – useful for staying awake for those late kick-offs.
22 Frith St, W1D 4RF. Tube: Tottenham Court Road.
Bavarian Beerhouse (Germany)
Make sure you’ve built up those biceps before heading to this gleefully over-the-top full-on-fun themed bar – you’ll need the upper arm strength to lift the huge beer steins. Expect an enjoyably raucous atmosphere during match screenings, especially Germany’s games. Booking essential.
Dish: Meat and potatoes, me old kumpel. Specifically, the Wurstplatte, with three types of German sausage, mashed potato and sauerkraut.
190 City Rd, EC1V 2QH. Tube: Old St.
As reigning World Cup Champions, Spain are under a lot of pressure. But it’s not you that’s playing, so let the professional footballers work for their heart attack-inducing salaries while you sit back, nibble tapas and sip Rioja at this, tucked-away restaurant. There’s also an additional screen in the courtyard for alfresco viewing.
Dish: Fill up on as much tip-top tapas as your stomach will allow, including the uñuelos de bacalao – salt cod and Idiazabal cheese fritters with chilli jelly.
3 Varnishers Yard, The Regent’s Quarter, N1 9FD. Tube: King’s Cross St Pancras.
Elk Bar (Australia)
That’s right it’s a sports bar – this is the World Cup, not ‘Madam Butterfly’, yeah? So leave your pretensions and quinoa recipes at home, and go and join the fun with an up-for-it Aussie crowd cheering on the Socceroos.
Dish: The Australian-themed burger (served on Australia’s match days) is probably a good bet here: kangaroo, cheese, bacon, pineapple and beetroot (apparently Australians love beetroot, so our good friend Google tells us). No Vegemite, though.
587-591 Fulham Rd, SW6 5UA. Tube: Fulham Broadway.
Estrela Bar (Portugal)
Where better to watch Portugal’s World Cup campaign than in London’s own ‘Little Portugal’ community, in Stockwell. Top of the many spots is this popular, football friendly bar, which should be even more buzzing than usual with both Portuguese football fanatics and casual fans alike.
Dish: The octopus stew is hearty, but you could just snack on the delicious and dangerously decadent Portuguese custard tarts, pastel de nata.
111-115 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1UZ. Tube: Vauxhall.
Gold Coast (Ghana)
It may be a way out for some Londoners, but this brilliant Ghanaian boozer and restaurant is worth the journey over to South Norwood. Big-screens, great food and a passionate footballing crowd will ensure an electric atmosphere throughout. And if Ghana play well in the tournament – it’s party time over in SE25.
Dish: Nkatenkwan, a traditional, spicy peanut soup with meat, ginger, pepper, tomato and omo tuo – Ghanaian rice balls.
224 Portland Road, SE25 4QB. Overground: Norwood Junction.
This Carnival-channelling venue will be making the host nation proud: samba dancers, capoeira performers, football freestylers, music and other live entertainment will accompany Brazil’s matches and – because they’re good sports – some of England’s efforts, too. Tickets needed.
Dish: Feijoada – a stew of pork, black beans, rice, spring greens and farofa (toasted flour) – is traditional and delicious, especially when paired with a few caipirinhas.
Parker St, WC2B 5PW. Tube: Holborn.
Honky Tonk (United States)
Don’t quibble about the authenticity of this unapologetically kitsch diner, just grab a ‘hard’ shake (a milkshake with booze, obvs) and support the US squad as they indulge in a strange game called ‘soccer’. U-S-A, U-S-A!, etc.
Dish: A chilli dog, of course. What hot dog can’t be improved by slathering it in chilli con carne? Followed by a slice of Mississippi Mud Pie the size of a hi-top, yessir.
6 Hollywood Rd, W10 9HY. Tube: West Brompton.
La Bodeguita (Colombia)
This Colombian restaurant is low on frills but high on atmosphere and authentic cooking. Set in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, it’s as lively as they come for football: if you want to quietly watch the match, go elsewhere and be boring.
Dish: Bandeja Paisa: pork belly, kidney beans, rice, mincemeat, sausage, fried egg, plantain, avocado and corn. By the time you’ve finished, the tournament will be over.
Elephant and Castle shopping centre, SE1 6TE. Tube: Elephant and Castle.
This upmarket restaurant and tequila bar normally offers refined dining, but during the World Cup you might just spot a few novelty sombreros bobbing around when Mexico’s matches are screened in the downstairs room.
Dish: Molcajete Mestizo: meat or vegetables with cheese, chorizo, spring onions, avocado, salsa and tortillas. It’s meant to be shared, but we won’t tell if you scoff it solo.
103 Hampstead Rd, NW1 3EL. Tube: Warren Street.
The Scolt Head (England)
Okay, there are several thousand London boozers that could rep England, but this De Beauvoir gastropub seems as good a choice as any with its cosy, rustic interior, homemade chutneys and enough ale to drown out Sepp Blatter’s chatter.
Dish: After England tumble out in a blaze of mediocrity (let’s not kid ourselves), lighten the weight of crushing inevitability with braised pork cheek and mustard mash, followed by Eton mess. And lots of ale.
107A Culford Road, N1 4HT. Overground: Haggerston.
This multinational ménage a trios between Japan, Brazil and Peru will broadcast all of Japan’s matches (and others) way up in its sexy, sky-high glass castle. Select games will also be screened on the venue’s 38th floor terrace – covered in AstroTurf for the occasion.
Dish: Go cross-continental with your sushi. Try the raw scallop – served as a cross between Japanese sashimi and Peruvian ceviche – with leche de tigre (citrussy, spicy fish sauce) and shiso, an Asian herb.
Heron Tower, EC2N 4AY. Tube: Liverpool St.
Or check out these World Cup events and parties in London.