Soccer’s World Cup happens only once every 4 years. It’s being held in this year of 2018, and runs June 14 thru July 15. As it features 32 different nations’ teams, Los Angeles, with its tremendous multicultural diversity, is a fabulous and unique place to partake in the event. It’s the most fun and culturally exciting to watch a particular team’s game in an ethnic venue corresponding to that country and its cuisine, where the local expats/nationals of that country gather year-round.
Here is a list of eateries at which the games may be viewed on live TV. All are in reasonable areas, and are comfortable for both women and men. Recommended to arrive 1 hour early to get parking, a seat and your food order in; sometimes even earlier, as noted. These events can pack ‘em in. As the event is being held in Russia, the timezone differential renders the games to have start times between 3am and 11am here in SoCal. Understandably some venues might not be open super-early. You should check with them first. Menus will lean toward the breakfast & lunch selections. All locations are in L.A. proper unless noted.
Pragmatically it’s wise to see the lower-ranked teams right away, as teams get eliminated starting June 28 upon which it will be over for them. Odds are the highest-ranked teams (i.e. Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Spain) will endure longer into the schedule. But, you never know. Navigate the top of this webpage for links to the schedule (make sure timezone is converted to Pacific): https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches
ARGENTINA: Buenos Aires Grill, 8856 Corbin Ave., Northridge is an artistic and even romantic restaurant with sangria, and big plates of grilled meats/mashed potatoes. These folks are very serious about their soccer and seeking a championship in light of finishing in 2nd place last time. On a weekday, arrive 30 minutes ahead to get a good choice of table; on a weekend, 2 hours. Reservations a good idea.
AUSTRALIA: No strictly Aussie venue in L.A.; but any of the British pubs (see England) draw the Oz element. Of them, the Fox & Hounds in Studio City can probably veer Aussie as they’re charging $5 advance tix to get in to the Oz games. Another possibility would be the Cock ‘n’ Bull in Santa Monica, as the U.S.-Australian Football League has been known to throws its parties there.
BELGIUM: Little Bear, 1855 Industrial St., Downtown L.A. highlights Belgian brews in its full bar; and ethnic items on its gastropubby menu include "Belgian fries”, seasoned crisped Brussels sprouts, liege waffles, cream of endive soup, and fish fried in batter of Belgian beer. Very nicely designed Arts District space.
Brussels Bistro, 222 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach features SoCal’s most full-on Belgique menu (bitterballen, croquettes, escargot, salade Liegeois, mussels Hoegaarden, Leffe beer beef stew), and more Belgian brews than you can shake a stick at. Morning menu will be limited. Euro-modern environ painted totally black, with mostly middle-aged crowd.
BRAZIL: Bella Vista Brazilian Pizza, 10826 Venice Blvd., Culver City is fairly spacious and sunlit, with big soccer mural on the wall. The pizzas have standard toppings but also feature some adventurous Brazilian ones: green peas, catupiry, hardcooked eggs, bland calabrese sausage, squash, beef stroganoff with potato sticks (yes, you read correctly, that is a topping). $25 cover charge ($21 after halftime) gets you unlimited American breakfast buffet (early morning games) or pizza/salad buffet (11am games) with beverages such as coffee, OJ and pink lemonade to wash it all down with. No reservations; first come first served, with most seating in a tableless bloc of about 80 folding chairs facing the game’s movie-size screen.
Café Brasil, 11736 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City is colorful, tropical, casual and charming. This is not a “churrasco” joint of the ilk which are popping up all over. Rather, it has feijoada and carefully-seasoned combo plates; grilled sandwiches; and fruity drinkables. A sweet-touch avo-type cooks and oversees. Arrive at least 90 minutes pre-gametime, and once inside, stake your turf near the entrance or washroom. BUT: expect bad management. This place cannot handle the big crowd. If they’re not open well prior to gametime, and you are not inside with your order placed an hour before kickoff, bypass it entirely and head to Bella Vista.
COLOMBIA: La Fonda Antioquena, 5125 Melrose Ave., Hollywood has about 20 smallish tables and a full menu.
El Meson Criollo, 15713 Van Owen, Van Nuys (@ Haskell); tables rearranged to long picnic-style for the event.
Both of the foregoing are soccer mega-fanatics and will be open for the 5am games. I recommend arrival 90 minutes (El Meson) to 2 hours (La Fonda) before gametime, and reservations at La Fonda if they are taking them. Fonda Antioquena’s fare features mainly stewed beef and chicken dishes; but also beef/chicken empanadas, rich-stocked soups, and thin grilled meats (“lomo”) with sides of plain white rice and soupy pinto beans. Meson Criollo’s normally lively menu is pared down and soupless for the event, but still has a variety of choices, anchored by a large combo plate.
COSTA RICA: Costa Rica Restaurant, 2500 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim is a slightly dark (in a nightclubby sort of way) multi-room community epicenter/dancefloor/party hole with nautical/fisherman’s theme. Arrive at least 2 hours before gametime; definitely 3 if on weekend. If you’re squeamish or claustrophobic you should try to get seated near an exit, as this place gets fanatically crowded. In 2014 there was a $5 cash-only cover charge. No big deal, for the only such Costa Rican experience in the Southland. Plenty of free parking in the lot out front for earlybirds. Very reasonable prices on its Spanish language-only menu, and the food is quite tasty. Almost all selections are “gallo pinto” oriented (rice & small beans cooked together, yummy and not overspiced).
CROATIA:. Croatian American Hall, 631 W. 9th St., San Pedro will be screening their games and serving a simple Croatian plate for $10; bring cash. Also cash beer/wine/soda bar. No lot, so allow time to find street parking. Open to all; no membership required.
St. Anthony’s Croatian Church, 712 N. Grand Ave. in Chinatown shows the games in its big parish hall; figure on a crowd of 300. They usually offer a good meal you can buy of cevapi, Croat mostaccioli or bbq pork/lamb, but beware the foodline can be extremely slow, i.e. over an hour. Beer/wine/soda bar on site. Free parking lots for earlybirds.
DENMARK: Olson’s Scandinavian Café & Deli, 5660 Pico Blvd. is going to be a delight! They will be open for the 5am games, and serving their roster of gravlax, herring salad / egg salad sandwiches with Danish havarti cheese, Swedish pancakes, shrimp skagen, of course Swedish meatballs, more. There are several tables; grab one. Olson’s is a combination cafe, diner, deli, candy store, and bookstore; with even a bin of free books you’re welcome to take. The flags of Denmark, Iceland and Sweden outside their front door are beautiful. This place is a jewel. Don’t miss it.
EGYPT: Cairo Restaurant & Café, 10832 Katella Ave., Anaheim is both full restaurant and vaping lounge. Hookahs and cigarette smoking are permitted. Very casual patio environ with bare-bones decor and worn furnishings. (No need to dress up, LoL.) It is the only known pure Egyptian venue in the Southland, and is much-deviating from its normal 7:30pm opening time to accommodate their team’s Cup viewing. Reservations a must for a seat/table.
ENGLAND: Ye Olde Kings Head, 116 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica a half block away from the beach is the most established and well-known gathering spot for limey expats in L.A. On a weekday, arrive at least 90 minutes prior to gametime if you want a seat/table in the bar area, or 30 minutes prior for the restaurant area. If on a weekend, come 3 hours ahead. Otherwise it’s just standing. Even standing room will get filled to capacity prior to gametime. Minimum $20 food/drink purchase required per seated table. Bigscreens are specially set up for the event. Park in nearby City pay-garages, such as the one on 2nd Street, for about $10.
Cat & Fiddle, 742 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood is indoor/outdoor and rockingly quaint but a bit small at its new location. Get there maybe 2 hours early (and even earlier for games past the group stage). Beware of tow-away on Highland; best to park on a sidestreet. Thoughtful kitchen which goes past (albeit includes) the usual Brit slop.
Cock ‘n’ Bull Pub, 2947 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, dimly-“lit” interior and blue collar appeal. Free parking lot.
Fox & Hounds, 11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; requires $5 advance tix for England games.
Lucky Baldwin’s, 17 S. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena. Arrive 90 minutes early. Parking in the city garage 2 doors south. Xlnt fish & chips. Indoor/outdoor. Bigscreens are in place.
The Robin Hood, 13640 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks is lower-key and has a nice dining room separate from the bar; it would have the most comfortable seating of the pubs. No tix or minimum purchase requirements; arrive 30 minutes ahead. Mostly middle-aged/senior crowd. Free parking lots around the back.
Remember, the English invented the game of soccer!
FRANCE: Atmosphere Mar Vista, 12034 Venice Blvd. is a very Euro-boho café/wine sippery with great conforming menu. 30 min. advance arrival, and free parking around the back alley entrance.
La Poubelle, 5907 Franklin Ave., Hollywood will draw the L.A. French millennials/Gen X’ers of the entertainment industry. It has just one TV, which is above the front door. The room fills up fast so be out there prior to their doors opening then try to grab a place up front near the TV. You’ll have to cruise around to find street parking and if you do on Bronson Ave., beware the hidden bike cops who ticket for jaywalking.
The lounge of the Freres Taix Restaurant, 321 Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park is always a great place to dine and watch sports. No need for early arrival. They’re not exactly expats there; the Taix family has been in L.A. for over a hundred years. But again, a great experience for any event, and a true gem of L.A.
GERMANY: Alpine Village, 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance. Literally hundreds of people show up for Germany games. Arrive at least 1 hour prior if you want a seat at a table. Big place. Plenty of free parking. Many monitors set up; you’ll have no problem seeing. Beauteous festive decor for the Cup. Can be a great venue to dine as well as to see the games, on days they have a buffet.
The Red Lion Tavern, 2366 Glendale Blvd. will be PACKED, and can involve a 2-3 hour advance wait in line on the sidewalk outside if you want to get in (let alone get a table). On a normal day it’s a great hofbrau/bar/biergarten, but unfortunately difficult and no guarantees during the Cup. Alpine Village is a safer bet to get in.
ICELAND: see Denmark for Olson’s.
IRAN: Cabaret Tehran, 16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino gives you a breakfast with its $25 cover charge. Although it’s a glamorous, dark red nightclub, everyone dresses casual (tee shirts, torn cutoffs etc.) for this particular event. Parking with Cabaret validation about $5 in the mini-mall’s subterranean garage. Reservations are needed, as it’s quite a popular vortex of Persian entertainment in L.A. Phone 818 985-5800.
JAPAN: Miyako Hybrid Hotel, 21381 S. Western Ave. (enter on 213th St.), Torrance opens its bar/restaurant the Ise-Shima at 6:30am; the bar has the TV broadcast. Japanese and American breakfast buffets available. Nice all-ages crowd. This is a posh 4-star facility, state of the art, brightly lit and clean as a whistle. Free parking out front.
Also: eateries in Little Tokyo downtown having counters and bars would have the game on their TVs but be apprised those venues do not open until the 11am games; nothing earlier. Noteworthy (especially for millennials) is the Far Bar, at 347 E. 1st St. in the building with the distinctive vintage vertical “Far East Chop Suey” neon sign. It’s got at least 8 TVs. Nearby low-cost parking for this area is in the City lot a half-block north of E. 1st on Judge John Aiso St. (which is the top of San Pedro Ave.).
KOREA: Biergarten, 206 N. Western Ave. is a nouveau sportsbar with a terrific menu of gastropub fusion delectables such as bratwursts with kimchi on the side. Darkened windowless environ with full bar and millennials-heavy base. Reservations essential for Korea games; probably futile to try to get in at gametime without one.
Mok Maru Jong Sul Jip, also known as the sportsbar inside Piper’s, 222 N. Western Ave., also gets sold out and reservations a must. Korean and American menu features its popular roasted-then-fried whole flattened chicken. Daylit with many windows. Spacious free parking lot in back.
MEXICO: Guelaguetza, 3014 W. Olympic Blvd. is a large, lovely, colorful, partly-skylit hub of tremendous Oaxacan cuisine. Their moles are world renowned. You will not be disappointed. James Beard award winner. Several big TVs and full bar. Reservations close a week ahead, so if you didn’t get one, arrive a minimum of 2 hours in advance, and brace for a line. Park on the street; their lot might be closed off for their VIPs.
MOROCCO: No Moroccan venues (Babouch, Koutoubia, Moun of Tunis) are open in the morning during gametimes. Instead try a neutral all-American sportsbar, such as Barney’s Beanery in Burbank or Redondo Beach.
NIGERIA: Totos,15355 Sherman Way, Van Nuys is a real-deal ethno-diner run by nice people.
Veronica’s Kitchen, 528 W. Manchester, Inglewood (and formerly at the location of Totos above), a small funky place with wonderful aromas coming out of that kitchen!
PANAMA: No local Panamanian venue. Instead try a neutral all-American sportsbar, such as the 1739 Public House in Los Feliz.
PERU: Con Sabor a Peru, 5163 Venice Blvd., unvetted but food looks great on its website!
El Rincon de Giovannita, 7605 White Oak, Lake Balboa, staffed by soccer fanatics.
POLAND: Polka, 4112 Verdugo Rd. in Eagle Rock is a diamond-of-a-place with delightful cuisine and where you are treated like royalty. They’re opening early for 11am games and have mounted a TV specially to screen the Cup. An unlimited Polish buffet for $15 is available. Small room and space tres limited, so reservations are requested to firstname.lastname@example.org; put “Poland World Cup” in the subject line.
PORTUGAL: Natas, Ventura Blvd., 13317 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks is a tiled work of art (you’ll think you are in a palace in Lisbon), full menu, and owner/chef top-rate. On top of that it has an exquisite bakery in the lobby. But this is a TINY place with only one monitor, just 9 little tables, and miniscule standing room. Arrive 30 minutes before gametime to get a seat.
RUSSIA: Traktir Restaurant, 8151 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood has borscht (of course), stroganoff (ditto), meat plates, a couple dumplings and some odd liquors. Ethnic deli off to the side. Its sit-down semi-open air environ should be pleasant, but their service has been inexcusably terrible. Reservation usually needed. Free parking on the sidestreets, or pay at adjacent lot.
SAUDI ARABIA: No strictly Saudi venue in L.A. Instead try a neutral all-American sportsbar, such as Tom’s Urban at L.A. Live.
SENEGAL: No strictly Senegalese venue in L.A., but a pan-African restaurant such as Nkechi African Café, 2717 W. Manchester Ave, Inglewood would likely be supportive.
SERBIA: L.A.’s sole Serbian venue, The Aroma Café, 2530 Overland Ave., does not have a TV, and say they will not have one for the games. Maybe they could be talked into it. Money talks, right?
Otherwise try a neutral all-American sportsbar such as Hollywood Way BBQ in Burbank.
SPAIN: Spain Restaurant, 1866 Glendale Blvd. offers Spanish cuisine (and L.A.’s best sangria); and despite the Argentinian origin of its proprietors, they will be featuring the Spain games.
(L.A.’s preeminent Spanish restaurant, La Paella on San Vicente Bl., is taking the World Cup so seriously that they are shutting down during it!!)
SWEDEN: see Denmark for Olson’s.
Gravlax, 12400 W. Washington Blvd. (at Centinela), Culver City is a contemporary “hip” joint geared to millennials, lounge-y, of angular shape and dark environ, painted mostly black inside. Its Swedishness is confined to its cuisine; it does not have ethnic/old-world folk art in its decor, as the other venues in this post do. Limited menu for the games includes cured salmon, shrimp skagen, herring, or trout paste on toast; and a fresh green mixed salad. Free parking spaces around the back.
SWITZERLAND: No Swiss venue anymore since On The Waterfront Café in Venice Beach closed 6 months ago. Alpine Village and any other German venues should have some Swiss buzz goin on. Euro Caffe at 8833 Sunset Blvd. in WeHo is Italian but may draw Swiss fans since Italy is not in the Cup this year. Or, try a neutral all-American sportsbar such as The Gordon Biersch in Burbank.
TUNISIA: Hybrid Tunisian/Moroccan eatery Moun of Tunis in Hollywood unfortunately is not open in the morning when the games are on. Instead try a neutral all-American sportsbar such as The Crest in Torrance.
URUGUAY: No venue in L.A. Instead try a neutral all-American sportsbar such as Bar Melody in Westchester.
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