The knockout stage of the World Cup is here, meaning no more lame excuses like “10 am is too early for a margarita” or “if I miss work I will get fired.” The championship of the world is on the line, and you need to watch with fellow fans at places with big televisions, drink specials, and breakfast for the early games. Your Blast correspondent has checked out a few spots and is here to give you a report on some options.
Sra Martinez is open for every game despite what seems to be an inopportune location. Not too many people in the Design District made it there for breakfast during the USA-Slovenia game, but those that did saw an epic comeback (USA 2, Slovenia 2) and a horrible call that thankfully proved irrelevant after the USA won Group C. A huge projection screen made every seat good in the old post-office-turned-trendy-restaurant. A Bloody Mary costs $6, as does their Bloody Maria, a crazy-spicy version of the drink. Sam Adams Summer Ale was on special for $4, and breakfast ran from about $6 to $12. The grilled manchego cheese sandwich on tasty brioche with an egg and Serrano ham is a good choice. Get the fig marmalade on the side if you’re into things that taste good.
Miami Beach has a lot of options for soccer fans of every nation to watch the games, some of which are actually open when they say they will be. One that is not open, despite numerous signs to the contrary, is Abraxas. On a recent morning the doors were locked 30 minutes before the games were to start, so we camped outside the door, sure that someone would soon arrive and allow us to attack their excellent beer selection. A man with the key to the place materialized at 10 to 10. After ignoring a friendly greeting, he said the bar would open “later” then locked the door without further explanation. We would have to watch elsewhere.
Ocean’s Ten is ideal for the man who has spent his life hunting with shotguns or jack hammering holes into concrete without earplugs: the audio is turned up all the way and their speakers go to 11. Their $4.25 breakfast special of eggs, fruit and pancakes helped ease the sting of the Abraxas fiasco, and a bucket of 5 beers was only $15. We should have gotten the bucket, because one Red Stripe was the Ocean-Drive face-slap standard $8. There was great interest in the Italy-Slovakia game, to the point that no TVs carried the New Zealand-Paraguay match. It was a pro-Azzuri crowd, and we left at halftime with the Italians down 1-0. Slovakia’s goal had the same effect as the accidental assassination of a rare endangered owl in the black-tie fundraiser scene of Dumb and Dumber. All of a sudden the party was dead and it was time to go.
A few blocks away, on Washington Avenue, the dark coolness of Playwright was a welcome reprieve from the heat and a fine place to catch the second half. Here the TVs were mostly tuned onto the Italy game as well, but the other match got a screen, as did the historic Isner-Mahut Wimbledon marathon (5th set: 70-68!). No special deals to report here, just another $8 Red Stripe. But, in contrast, the atmosphere was great as there were actually some Slovaks mixed in with the Italy fans. Italians are great people, their homeland and sports cars are beautiful, their wine and food superb – but the Azzuri are awful to watch; their floppy spastic theatrics turn neutral observers into fans of their opponents. We toasted the Slovaks for knocking Italy out of the tournament, 3-2.
Over in the Gables, Sports Xchange steps up with a pretty complete $6 breakfast buffet. Here $8 buys a tall margarita instead of a single beer, and bucket options are cheap and plentiful. A rowdy crowd watched the USA score a late goal to beat Algeria 1-0 for the group win. This is a true sports bar, with huge TVs and comfortable seating. It’s possible that this review could have been bitter and negative (for no real reason) if Tim Howard hadn’t thrown that bomb outlet and Landon Donovan hadn’t punched-in that rebound, but since that all happened, the Sports Xchange on Miracle Mile is where stunning magic happens – and we love it.
Back on the beach, Ted’s Hideaway is still the best spot to nurse a hangover while working on your next one. Laid back and unpretentious, the bar serves $9 domestic or $13 import pitchers, and $4 rail drinks during matches. Two large televisions show the main games; additionally, others are showing whatever else is good to watch. The food has never been the thing at Ted’s, but it is ideal for a pitcher or two and then a dip in the nearby Atlantic.
A corner kick away from Ocean’s Ten, The Clevelander, has the games but is better suited for the casual fan and not the serious spectator. $3.50 Bud Lights are the only special, unless you count the pool scene and the people-watchingâ€¦ which are pretty special. The glare on the outside TVs makes it hard to follow the action, while the indoor TVs take you away from the scene. Shots of Cuervo, not even Patron, Cuervo, are $8.50, so there are no shortcuts to a buzz here.
But now is not the time for shortcuts anyway. This is for the championship of the world.