By Cody Worsham
Welcome back to the Western hemisphere, World Cup.
It’s been 20 years since the world’s most popular sporting event has been on this half of the planet, which means the overwhelming majority of our readers weren’t yet of legal drinking age the last time the trophy was handed out at a reasonable hour.
The last two decades – with tournaments in France South Korea/Japan, Germany, and South Africa – have featured early morning matches local time, outside the traditional hours of most venues.
We’ve made it work in the meantime, but with the tournament back on our side of the planet, we’re getting plenty of afternoon and evening matches, perfect for group watching at your local watering holes.
In that frame of mind, here is DIG’s official 2014 World Cup watch guide.
1. The Londoner
What to Watch: USA vs. Ghana, Monday, June 16, 5 p.m.
The Londoner is the official bar of American Outlaws: Baton Rouge, the local chapter of the national team’s supporters’ club. Bring your red, white, and blue, and be ready to chant along. The U.S. also play at 5 p.m. on June 22 against Portugal and at 11 a.m. on June 26 against Germany.
What to Eat: Cheese Fries ($7.75)
Freedom fries topped with Three Cheese Blend, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Green Onions. Make sure to ask for extra American cheese. ‘Murica.
What to Drink: The Patriot (Price not available online)
For You Yanks! Blue Coat Gin, Pama Liqueur, Patron Citronge, And A Splash Of Sweet And Sour.
2. The Londoner (again)
What to Watch: England vs. Italy, Saturday, June 14, 5 p.m. (all times CST): There’s no better place for expats to support the Three Lions than the city’s best British pub, and in a tough Group D, this match will be critical to advancing from the knockout stages.
What to Eat: Tower of London Burger ($8.50)
Named for the iconic fortress built after the Norman Conquest, this is your meal of choice for England vs. Italy. No ketchup, though.
What to Drink: Fuller’s London Porter ($6)
This historic dark beer derives its rich chocolate character from a unique blend of pale, crystal, brown and chocolate malts. Fuggles hops give the beer the smooth and satisfying finish which makes London Porter perfect for many occasions, and such a fine after-dinner drink.
3. Pluckers Wing Bar
What to Watch: Portugal vs. Germany, Monday, June 16, 11 a.m.
Pluckers’ giant plasma TVs are plastered all over the place. You’re guaranteed a primo seat for one of the best matches of the group stages.
What to Eat: All you can eat wings on Mondays for $12.99)
Like Pluckers’ menu, this game is all about the wings. Portugal’s got the best in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, and his partner, Nani, is no slouch, either. Germany, meanwhile, is loaded with wingers – Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle, Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller, and Lukas Podolski are all world class.
What to Drink: Shock Top
While not a true German Hefeweizen, Shock Top is a good enough imitation, and American fans will likely want Germany to win this one. The U.S. will probably be in a battle with Portugal for the second place finish necessary to advance into the knockout rounds, so a Die Mannschaft victory will be welcome.
4. The Varsity Theatre
What to Watch: Brazil vs. Croatia, Thursday, June 12, 3 p.m.
It’s the tournament’s opening match, and The Varsity is offering free cover.
What to Eat: Louisiana Alligator from The Chimes ($9.95)
This match is a great appetizer to the rest of the tournament, so go for the best appetizer on The Chimes’ menu next door.
What to Drink: $2 Select Beers from Brazil/Croatia
So what if neither country is known for its beer? It’s two bucks. Try something new.
5. Uncle Earl’s
What to Watch: USA vs. Portugal, Sunday, June 22, 5 p.m.
Now open on Sundays and featuring 24 draft beers and a huge patio with projection screens, it’s a great place to watch. You can enter their World Cup Bracket Challenge, enjoy drink specials and prizes, and listen to ESPN’s live radio remotes before every U.S. game.
What to Eat: $0.50 Wings
Sunday is Funday at Uncle Earl’s, with Three Bones Catering providing their delicious wings.
What to Drink: Beer
With 24 drafts to pick from, why limit your options? It might be best to stick with domestics in support of the U.S., of course.
6. Mellow Mushroom
What to Watch: Italy vs. Uruguay, Tuesday, June 24, 11 a.m.
Grab some Italian food and root on Gli Azzurri in what could very likely be an elimination match of sorts.
What to Eat: The Caesar!($12.49 for 10-inch pizza)
In honor of Italian manager Cesare Prandelli, dine on this Olive Oil and Garlic base pizza with Pesto Chicken, Provolone, Mozzarella and Feta topped with a Caesar Salad and Roma Tomatoes.
What to Drink: Peroni
Drink them by the bottle, and chunk the empties at Uruguay’s star Luis Suarez when he inevitably dives – or cheats via the handball as he did in the 2010 World Cup vs. Ghana.
Other places to check out World Cup matches
Walk On’s – Voted the Best Sports Bar in America, you can’t go wrong with a stop here. Try the new location in Towne Center, with more than 8,500 square feet of space, 80 HD TV’s, and more than 60 beers on tap.
Pelican House – For a more laid back environment, try The Pelican House. Thursdays feature $1 off all pints, while Monday’s are $1.50 all pitchers from 4 to 7 p.m. The Premier Soccer Center will host its watch parties here, as well.
Chelsea’s – Brazil vs. Cameroon, Monday, June 23, 3 p.m.: Featuring five players from England club side Chelsea – four for Brazil, one for Cameroon – fans of The Blues will have their hearts split for this one
Ivar’s – No bar has as distinctly a European feel as Ivar’s. It’s a great place to catch a game and grab a drink without dealing with the hustle and bustle of larger venues.