Where to watch the World Cup in Toronto
by Jim Byers
From a Dutch bar downtown festooned with old movie posters and strings of Christmas lights to a spacious midtown spot specializing in Brazilian cuisine, there may be no better town to celebrate the World Cup than Toronto.
No matter which of the 32 teams you’re pulling for in this year’s Mundial, as it’s known in the soccer (sorry, football) world, there’s a bar or a restaurant somewhere in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) with your name on it. Or the name of a country or city represented in the tournament, which starts in Brazil June 12 and runs until July 13.
Toronto has been proclaimed the most multicultural city on the planet, even more than New York or London, so whether you’re a fan of the The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon or the Socceroos from Australia or the Azzuri from Italy, you’ll find folks you can cheer and party with.
Over on The Danforth in what’s called Greektown, Angelo Michaelides at Omonia Restaurant (426 Danforth Ave.), an old standby, says the Cup is huge and that they’ll be adding in more TV’s.
“It’s the Greek culture, soccer,” he says. “It means everything to us.”
Across the street at Pappas Grill they’ll also be adding TV’s for the cup. And you can’t go wrong with souvlaki and a cold Mythos beer.
Just down the road at 107 Danforth is Das Gasthaus, which is pretty new and claims to be the only pure German bar in the city. Expect several TV’s tuned to watch a very good Germany team in this year’s cup, as well as heaping plates of sausages and foamy pints of beer from Deutschland.
The Queen and Beaver Public House on Elm St. in downtown Toronto has only been around five years. But the cozy, quirky British pub, built in an old house, has quickly established a reputation as THE go-to place for English football matches, with fans regularly packing the place on game days. Dial it up several notches for the World Cup. Try the burger, which has bone marrow in it for extra flavour.
“It’s a great place to be,” says manager Jamieson Kerr. “We show the England games, of course, but other ones too. It’s very popular with all the condos we have around here.”
Ditto with some hotel guests at places such as the recently refurbished Eaton Chelsea, just across the street.
Betty’s, at 240 King St. West in downtown Toronto, is a cool and eclectic place with one large room on two levels, a side room that’s also large and a back patio. It’s the unofficial headquarters for the Dutch team in Toronto, so expect a ton of good Dutch beer to be flowing. And lots of folks decked out in orange. Don’t forget to try the Cajun chicken sandwich.
Not all the action is downtown, of course. Brazil fans might be found in Little Portugal/Little Italy on College St., but you’ll also find a centre of Brazilian life at 1256 St. Clair Ave. West, which is on the St. Clair streetcar line and easy to reach. At Rio 40, you’ll find heaping bowls of feijoada, Brazilian black bean stew. Expect cold beer but also delicious caipirinha’s with cane sugar alcohol, lime, sugar and plenty of ice to cool off those hot Brazilian fans. Portuguese fans can find Club Benfica just down from Rio 40. Otherwise lots of options can be found in Little Italy/Little Portugal for all Brazilian, Portuguese and Italian fans, such as Café Diplomatico.
Next door to Brazil on the map, and almost right around the corner for World Cup fans, is the Sky Ranch restaurant at 2473 Dufferin St. The specialty here is Argentina beef and hearty breakfasts with tons of meat and eggs in a fun, family atmosphere. They’ll have a big screen set up and a couple of smaller TV’s, said manager Fabio Barenbaum. Sazon de Pacifico is a Colombian restaurant just up the street at 2848 Dufferin.
Mexico fans should head to El Rincon Mexicano (653 St Clair Ave. W) to watch a match. Mexican Amigos Restaurant & Tequila Bar (located in Richmond Hill and York Mills) will definitely be showing soccer (football) too.
For virtually every game shown on enough TVs to serve a Toronto suburb, RealSports in MapleLeaf Square is the place to go. The Football Factory (164 Bathurst St) ensures maximum viewing by opening outside normal hours for requested matches. TFC (Toronto Foodball Club) fans can always be found at Brazen Head (165 East Liberty St). The Dock Ellis (1280 Dundas St W) serves Ontario beers and a solid menu with its sports, while The Loose Moose (146 Front St. W) always hosts large, rowdy crowds of sports fans.