Where to Watch the FIFA World Cup in Boston
Listen closely: Can you hear it? That’s the faint sound of vuvuzelas, aka the infamous FIFA World Cup noisemakers of 2010 -- and the rumored sound agent of 2018. The leap year of sporting events is once again upon us (June 14 is the official kickoff this year), which begs the logical question: Where to watch? Team USA’s absence, combined with the many-hour time difference between Boston and host country Russia, means some fair-weather bars will bow out of contention, but there are still plenty of sports dens around town dedicating themselves to live broadcasts. We've rounded up the best spots to watch the World Cup in Boston below and plan to update them as the games progress. Start rescheduling your morning meetings.
Where to hang with soccer fanatics of all cloths
Drive by the Banshee on any Saturday morning and you’ll inevitably spot a posse of Chelsea fans idling outside, smoking and rehashing the day’s match. So when the World Cup rolls around, you know where to find the die-hards. Irish and British expats will definitely overflow the dark corners of this transplanted-from-Dublin pub, so get there early for your best chance at grabbing a bar seat or corner table. The all-day menu sets you up with the expected pub grub (burgers, nachos, quesadillas), but if you’re there for the day’s first match, splurge on the Irish breakfast and Bloody Marys (the well-poured Guinnesses will always be there).
Ground zero for up-to-11 World Cup enthusiasm
This has been a Liverpool fan mainstay for more than a decade, and it’s the mothership for expat football fans of all stripes. In other words: World Cup viewing crowds don’t get more rapturously rowdy. Grease up your funny bones, because you’ll spend most of your time elbowing your way to the bar and then elbowing your way back to your designated standing spot. But it’s all well worth it: minus the 8am beers, a viewing visit to “official World Cup headquarters” is about as close as you can get to the full European experience.
An early bird that will draws crowds of newbies and die-hards alike
Intimidated by the rabidity of World Cup fandom? Grafton Street is here for you. The longtime Harvard Square hangout wasn’t at the top of everyone’s list back in 2014 but is kicking (sorry) into higher gear for the 2018 World Cup, offering an 8am opening time and special breakfast menu for the group stage matches, broadcast on a giant drop-down projector screen. Count on an eclectic crowd of authentic fans, idly curious tourists, and young professionals playing hooky. (Note that if you call ahead and make a reservation, you should get free parking out of the deal.)
The quickest way to transport yourself to Rome for the Coppa
You can take Italy out of the World Cup, but you can’t take Cafe Dello Sporto out of the World Cup venue lineup. Even as the fútbol world continues to grapple with the Blues failure to qualify (“A World Cup without Italy is like a pizza without cheese” goes one commonly heard refrain), Cafe Dello Sporto is prepared to do what it always does: air every match while treating guests to the authentic Italian cafe experience. This means espresso, gelato, morning Negronis, and lots of older Italian men yelling at the TVs.
Where fans of England go to live or die by every kick
Gathering place of the Boston Gooners, the city’s official (only?) Arsenal fan club, Lir gets into the soccer spirit far more than once every four years. But if you seek to ensconce yourself among Three Lions devotees, you can do no better than this Boylston Street mainstay. Additional selling points: a spacious setting that grants you wider-than-expected elbow room and a waitstaff more than accustomed to all manner of hooliganism. They'll serve their brunch menu during the games, so you can get everything from a morning quesadilla with eggs to the full Irish breakfast with the works.
A hybrid sports bar and hipster hangout
Are you the type that pontificates on the history and meaning of the tournament but struggles to name a single star player? Well, you’ve found your venue! Parlor caters as much to the whiskey enthusiast as it does the Ronaldo obsessive. In this comparatively cozy spot, bartenders remember your name and patrons keep their approving roars to a minimum. Its beer menu skews craft and regional, but there’s no shame in taking in an afternoon matchup over a Negroni or Manhattan (all of the classic cocktails ring in at just 10 bucks). Save the lowbrow consumption for the food: griddled dogs, fried pickles, and fried chicken on a biscuit for brunch. Even when it's not World Cup season, Parlor is known to host watch events for the Midnight Riders soccer team.
The ideal watching spot for both baseball and soccer fans
As emblematic as the Citgo sign, the Cask is the easiest World Cup answer for the equal-opportunity sports fan. It’s a Sox establishment first and foremost, but all those HD screens means at least one will be tuned in to the tournament at any given time. And with so many of the weekday matches starting at 11am and 2pm, there’s little overlap with Boston games anyway (especially since the six-month-long NBA playoffs will finally be done). Chicken Parm is about as global as the menu gets, but all finger food categories are well represented.
Go-to hangout for LGBTQ World Cup fans, with a patio
This year’s World Cup is not without its controversies. Russia’s anti-gay policies have led to some calls for a boycott, and gay couples have even been warned not to hold hands at the tournament. But back at Cathedral Station, all’s as inclusive as ever. The gay-friendly sports bar plans to show every match airing during opening hours (the bar is open starting at 2pm on weekdays; weekend brunch starts at 11am). This might be the time to switch from beer to the harder stuff, as cocktail prices here are surprisingly reasonable. Come halftime, you can head out to the lovely back patio for a quick hit of vitamin D. The brunch menu, which you'll probably need to fuel up, includes omelets, breakfast burritos, and the bar's take on the Reuben.
Where to find fellow American football fans
Where many local Irish pubs attract soccer-loving expats yearning for a taste of home, the Kinsale lures in something else entirely: Americans who have somehow caught the European fútbol bug. So it’s devotion with different accents, along with many an Irish menu classic, from shepherd's pie to bangers and mash (and of course, a well-poured Guinness). Word to the weekday drinkers: if it's a Monday and you're fine with sticking around long after the game, The Kinsale has 50-cent jumbo wings on sale after 5pm.
The ideal spot to cheer for England alongside Manchester United devotees
It’s a given that “America’s First Sports Bar” is going to devote sizable resources to the summer tournament, but once you learn that McGreevy’s serves as an unofficial gathering place for Manchester United fans, the numbers of devotees will make even more sense. Even better, the bar’s daily food specials align nicely with the odd-hours match schedule, including weekend dollar oysters from 10am to 1pm and a five-buck burger on Tuesdays.
Al fresco party spot for the newly woke Cupper
So no, they’re not airing every match, just the weekend afternoon ones, but the ones they are? They'll be projected onto two walls of the building in the restaurant’s garden -- fitting for the bigger-than-life spectacle that is the World Cup. In fact, Publico’s outdoor space is being transformed into a rose and beer garden for the entire summer, so while you may be mingling with some World Cup neutralists, you’ll also be getting some fresh air with your fandom. Publico's added new globally inspired menu items to its food menu just for the games.
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