For better or for worse, for the last couple weeks I have been obsessively reading up on the UEFA Euro ’12 championship. And now that it’s finally here (yay!) I can barely contain myself. For those of you that are not football fans, the Euros is kind of a big deal. It happens every four years between the World Cup, and the majority of the teams are pretty strong. 16 teams are divided up randomly into four groups and play for the highest points. Once the group stage has passed the two top teams in each group move forward and the winners play the runners up of another group, before it becomes to the death with the quarters, semis and final games. As a loyal Spain fan, I am naturally honing in on Group C whos biggest rival is Italy, but I am also in awe of B’s “Group of Death.” Regardless, each group has already proved to have some highly riveting games and anything can happen at this point.
So if you’re in NYC and looking for a spot to catch the games on the weekends or somewhere to sneak off and watch in the middle of the workday, here are a few spots I recommend checking out regardless of what team you may be backing.
If you dare to go here for a Germany game, be prepared for the chaos that is sure to ensue. On days when their national team is playing, not only do they have a DJ but they also have an oompah band. That’s right, I said an Oompah Band! And when Germany won the recent World Cup the bat patrons took to the streets in celebration. This spot is definitely not for those that are looking for a quiet place to watch the game, so do yourself a favor and just get involved!
Bierhaus is a welcome relief from the typically subpar bars in Midtown. While its not an outdoor beer garden, its pretty spacious and there’s good sized tv’s to catch the game. Add a delicious bratwurst, giant beers and dressed up bar maidens, and it’s a solid spot to show your German pride.
When Alexis and I walked into this restaurant two years ago to catch a World Cup game, we were initially disappointed to see only about 3 other people in the whole place. However, the whole place was soon packed with Spaniards who shared our excitement for the game, and we were one of the very few non-native Spanish speakers in the room. Football + Spanish cursing = music to our ears.
Ok, full disclosure – I haven’t been here BUT I feel the need to share it anyway because I was tipped off by a Spaniard who was raving about it. The restaurant is located in Astoria and is a big spot for expats. The suggestion is to get there early enough to order the delicious paella and make sure it gets brought to you before the game begins and the waiters suddenly forget about you.
Football Factory at Legends
Started by one of the owners of Nevada Smith’s, this bar is a hot spot for not only European football but the NY Red Bulls as well. It’s somewhat known to be a Chelsea bar, so you can bet that there will be a big crowd rooting on the Brits here.
Surprisingly not a lot of Italian football bars in NYC come to my mind, but one restaurant that is defintely an Italian supporter is Diva. Located in one of my favorite intersesctions in SoHo, its a great open-air brunch spot to snag a table and watch the game. While there’s only one tv in the whole place, the atmosphere is lively and its still worth checking out. Tip: Make a reservation in advance, try to snag a table closer to the tv, and order some pitchers of sangria.
Other Awesome Football Bars:
Not gonna lie, I’m a little reluctant to write about this bar because its my secret spot and I like it that way. However, it is a no frills pub that is serious about it’s football. I’ve come to love this place over the years, and you can guarantee big football matches will be given top priority over other sports when necessary. Bring your own food, and make sure to order a drink at the bar or the bartender (who I love!) will give you hell about it.
I kind of wanted to keep this spot off my list as well just because its the main go-to bar that everyone mentions, but you’d be hard pressed to find more hardcore football enthusiasts packed into one dark bar anywhere else. When it’s not a championship game, the bar is rather low-key with seats available and not too many people around. However, for tournaments you can definitely expect a packed house and no seating room whatsoever. That being said, the energy level is high and if you go with it (and not care that you feel like sardines) then this can be a great spot to catch the games. *Note: Nevada Smith’s is currently under construction so they’ve temporarily relocated to Webster Hall around the corner.
Alright, so this is a French restaurant but if you were watching the Spain/Italy semi final match of Euro ’08 here then you would have seen my table of red jerseys jumping up and down in happiness amidst a sea of sad blue fans. That afternoon at Felix is hands down one of the top five best moments I’ve had in NYC and why I am an advocate for watching games at that bar. The brunch is delicious, the drinks are strong and the crowd is as euro as you can get in Manhattan. That being said, it’s a small spot and reservations must be made early in advance if you don’t want to be standing in the back, and make sure they plan on having the projector down for the game you want to watch. You can expect to find me here if Spain makes it to the finals this year.
Smithfield – A popular spot where football is the sport of choice and with tons of LED TV’s.
*Update – Just watched the Group of Death matches here on 6/16 and it was phenom! Enthusiastic crowd, awesome bartenders and two floors to make sure each game on gets audio. YES.
Central Bar – Large, open Irish bar in the East Village that can draw a rather eclectic crowd.
Stout – Sure, the location is a little annoying, but if you’re around Penn Station looking for a good bar to grab a table and watch the game this is a good call.
Rattle N Hum – This bar is supposed to be one of the top football bars for the Euros, and also offers lots of delicious craft beer.
So now that you are fully informed on the Where, the question is When are we meeting up to catch a game?
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