Best places to watch the World Cup in Vancouver

Looking for a party, or for fabulous food with your footy? Commercial Drive is the place to be.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

Once every four years, the planet's attention turns to the FIFA World Cup. With teams competing from every inhabited continent and a cumulative television audience that could hit billions of people, the World Cup is one of the few sporting events that are truly global in nature.

People who don't otherwise follow football get caught up in the experience. Years ago I lived on a dead-end street with a neighbour, a proud German, who flew his country's flag outside his house for the entire tournament. This fellow had an unfortunate habit of carelessly blocking driveways when he parked his BMW so everyone else on the street flew the flags of whatever team happened to be playing Germany. How you choose a team to cheer for matters less than actually picking one, but if you are really stuck you can back the team with the greatest name of all time: the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

To help you get in on the fun, here's a list of the best places in Vancouver to watch World Cup matches.

Commercial Drive

About 909 million people watched the last World Cup final, and it will seem like every one of them is on The Drive July 13th for this year's penultimate match. The Drive is the unquestionable ground zero for hardcore World Cup fans. For and those who enjoy a good street party, Commercial Drive is the place to be.

1. Caffé Roma (no web site), 1510 Commercial Drive

Still undergoing renovations in early June, Caffee Roma is as old-school as it gets. The hockey goalie masks may be gone but for an authentic World Cup experience, make this your destination for one of Italy's matches. Just don't wear a English, Uruguayan or Costa Rican jersey unless you fancy a fistfight.

2. Merchants Oyster Bar, 1590 Commercial Drive

If you like seriously good food with your footy, Merchant's delivers. Locals in the know love the chicken liver parfait (it's not on the menu but is served on the charcuterie platter) and the daily specials are always excellent. With extended hours for the World Cup, ask the city's friendliest bartender Connor for his special caesar (hint: it's made with house-steeped kimchi juice instead of clamato).

3. Pick 'em

With dozens of coffee shops, cafes and gems like The Portugese Club (great food, atrocious service), you're never more than a throw-in away from a great place to watch a match.  

Rest of the city

If the chaos of Commercial Drive is too much to take, there are plenty of other great locations to watch the World Cup.

1. Red Card Sports Bar + Eatery, 560 Smithe Street

Red Card will be opening at 8:30 a.m. for the preliminary round morning matches and serving up a special breakfast menu. For later games, you'll have your choice of excellent pizzas fresh from their wood fired oven. With 18 televisions, 2 projection screens and Game Day beer specials, Red Card is football fan heaven.

2. Dover Arms Pub, 961 Denman Street

West End fixture Dover Arms Pub offers up more of an authentic pub experience for watching the World Cup. The local hangout for Rangers FC fans, the Dover Arms is your place if you prefer a more laid back, enjoy-a-pint-with-the-regulars venue.

3. London Public House, 700 Main Street

Established in 1903, the London Pub is a little bit of Britain in the heart of Chinatown. It hosts the Official England House for the World Cup with tickets required for England's matches. The atmosphere here promises to be unique as you'll be enjoying the game in the company of long-suffering English football fans.

4. The Sin Bin, 295 West 2nd Avenue

Photo by Crystal H, Yelp.ca

A down-to-earth sport bar in the happening Olympic Village neighbourhood, The Sin Bin has their World Cup flags flying already in preparation for the big event. The staff is friendly, the chicken wings are excellent and it's a great choice if you'd rather not watch the game with hundreds of rabid football fans. 

With so many great locations to choose from, the only logical option is to choose the matches you want to see and work your way through this list. Who knows? By the time the final match rolls around, you might just become a football fan.

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