The FIFA World Cup has returned and as always, it has infected the world with patriotism. Londoners are reconnecting with their roots, since rooting for Canada’s soccer team just isn’t an option this time around. While watching in the comfort of your own home can be great, there’s nothing like the comradery of screaming with other fans at giant television screens, and for that you’ll probably have to head out to a public space. There are plenty of places to watch the tournament. Sports bars across the city will be putting on the game live, replaying it in the evening, and showing highlights the day after. But for the best experience to cheer your heart out, the places on this list are the ones to check out.
Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub, a two-named establishment, has strong European roots, so it’s needless to say soccer runs through their veins. The large television at Chaucer’s will be showing every game of the tournament. Come together with friends and family at this downtown location to watch your team and root them on. While you’re there, it will be hard to resist grabbing a pint of one of their 75 unique varieties of beer, 11 of which are on tap. These beers range in nationality, not unlike the teams participating in the World Cup, coming from all six inhabited continents, so you’ve got plenty to pick from that could even rep your team. Since most of the games start between morning and midafternoon, you’ll be getting acquainted with their lunch menu. A range of European inspired salads, sandwiches, and platters, along with daily specials – displayed on their sandwich board out front of the restaurant and on their Twitter. For a taste of Europe to match the team you’re cheering for, Merienbad/Chaucer’s is the place to be.
Joe Kool’s is a Richmond Row staple, serving hot food and cold drinks over the sounds of sports games for over 30 years. Joe Kool’s offers sports bar classics like burgers, pizzas, and nachos as well as a variety of domestic and imported beers, including a selection of beers from their Richmond Row neighbour, Toboggan Brewery. With over a dozen screens throughout the restaurant, you’ll easily be able to see the game from any table in the place. Sports fans have used Joe Kool’s as a gathering place for decades, and nothing can change that. The atmosphere is vibrant with cheers of elation and groans of disappointment whenever a team scores. Joe Kool’s itself does not have a public stance on who wins the World Cup, so everyone should feel welcome. Just keep it civil if you get seated next to a family cheering for the rival team.
The Scot’s Corner is a classic British pub with beer always flowing and brimming with UK pride. It almost goes without saying that the Scot’s Corner will be showing the World Cup, but that is the point of this list after all, so it must be said. The Scot’s Corner will be putting every World Cup game on display for its patrons. Whether it’s a 9AM start or 2PM, you’ll be able to grab a seat and a pint, and watch the game. Thanks to the AGCO’s temporary change, bars and restaurants are now allowed to serve alcohol as early as 9AM, though that rule is only for the duration of World Cup tournament play. They’re even offering a World Cup special – 20oz pints of Scot’s Corner Local Lager for $5. Between this deal and the game, it’s understandable to get a little rowdy – but don’t go full hooligan, or you won’t be invited back for the next game. Being a British pub, a good portion of the patrons will be rooting for England, but all are welcome to eat, drink, and cheer for their team.
King of the Pigs, or Rei dos Leitõs, is a barbeque joint with a few locations across London. Their style of barbequing and love for soccer stems from Portugal, so you know both flow through their veins. Their Hamilton Road restaurant, their flagship location, has been open for over 25 years. Their Portuguese barbeque is unrivaled, charcoal infused chicken, Peri Peri sauce, and pork ribs are mouth-watering and have gained them much renown throughout the city, beyond just the Portuguese population. No matter who you’re cheering for, grabbing a table at King of the Pigs is guaranteed to be an excellent experience, just make sure to tip well if you’re rooting against Portugal.
The German Canadian Club of London is welcoming Londoners to watch the World Cup on their big screen. While there may be a slight preference toward the German team, soccer fans of all nationalities and club affiliations are welcomed. Their kitchen and bar will be open an hour before each game and throughout the match, so classic German dishes and beer will never be in short supply. Sausages, schnitzels, and lagers make for excellent sustenance to keep your cheers going strong. Check on their social media or their website’s event page to see which games they’re showing. You’re guaranteed to get every Germany match, but showing other matches depend on public demand. And just for good measure, after every Germany match, there will be giveaways and prizes. No public word on what they are just yet, so you’ll have to head over and check it out if you’re interested in potentially winning a prize.
We don’t usually shout out chains on Santa Knows Best, but Jack Astor’s has one of the best sports bar set ups we’ve seen out there. Their massive screen makes the game visible across the whole space, it’s impossible to miss, even from outside. Crowds gather there to share in one communal watching experience. Everyone has probably been to a Jack Astor’s at some point, so there aren’t really many surprises on the menu. Classics like burgers, chicken fingers, and steaks, alongside a plentiful array of beers, wines, and spirits. Other chain sports bars, like Crabby Joe’s and Boston Pizza, which have numerous locations across the city, will give you a similar vibe to Jack Astor’s, so in a pinch they’re also a great choice for decent food, good service, and watching the World Cup.
The Portuguese Club of London are cheering on Ronaldo and the team and welcoming everyone from far and wide to join them. Their club’s adjoining sports bar is always open to the public, no club membership needed, you just have to show up and enjoy a drink and the game. The sports bar’s kitchen will be ready and available for your snacking and/or meal needs, serving up traditional Portuguese cuisine alongside their cold beverages, or hot coffee for the early morning games. It’s safe to say that all of the other cultural community centres in London will also be playing their team’s games, if not more. Check out places such as the Irish Canadian Club or the Curinga Italian Canadian Sport Club. National pride runs strong, especially when it comes to soccer, or “football” as they call it.