While March Madness and the Olympics certainly dominate the zeitgeist when they’re in full swing, no sport can unify the city like soccer during the World Cup, which kicks off this Thursday in Brazil with an opening match between the the host nation and Croatia (4pm EST, ESPN).
From Greek restaurants in Astoria to Dutch expat bars, everywhere will be showing matches. The question is, where’s the best place to watch?
Country-specific viewing can be a lot of fun, whether it’s at a boisterous French bistro on West Broadway or a Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn. But there are a lot of games to see, and you need a go-to hangout as well. Since reopening last year, Nevada Smith‘s has reclaimed its reputation as the place to watch soccer in Manhattan. But in practice, that means that it can be a nightmare to actually go to, often attracting stifling hordes of “fans,” a.k.a. people who love to use international sports as an excuse to booze at antisocial hours. (Full disclosure: I use the fact that my mom’s British to be incredibly snobby about football fandom—I need something to give a sense of worth in this world!).
Before you watch, brush up on all the teams and star players with Complex’s interactive World Cup Guide. And when it’s time for kick-off, head to one of these five great bars where you’ll find the holy trinity of soccer viewing: good food and beer, good TVs, and passionate fans.