When 2014 FIFA World Cup host Brazil faces off against Croatia in the opening match on June 12, soccer fans will be glued to televisions till the final game in mid-July. Argentina, Germany, Spain and Brazil are frontrunners to take home the title, but plenty of expats will be here cheering their home teams on from spots with native drinks and dishes that invoke their motherlands. Check out these contenders:
Brazil ➜ This year’s host country has given us the dance-y martial art of capoeira, the meat-laden steakhouses known as churrascarias and, most importantly, the caipirinha, made with cachaça (the country’s answer to rum) combined with limes muddled with sugar. Fogo de Chão, the Valley’s most well-known churrascaria, offers 11 varieties of the signature cocktail, including melon-coconut-lime, elderflower and pineapple-mint. 360 E. Flamingo Rd. 702-431-4500, FogoDeChao.com.
Argentina ➜ Located on Spring Mountain Road, Rincon de Buenos Aires sometimes looks a little out of place among the area’s many Asian restaurants, but you’re transported to South America with baked empanadas filled with spinach and thick cheese, and the massive lomito completo, a filet mignon sandwich topped with provolone, ham, fried eggs, lettuce and tomatoes. Plus, you can down the Argentine export brew Quilmes, which also happens to sponsor the Argentine soccer team. 5300 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-257-3331, RinconBSAS.com.
United Kingdom ➜ Even if Gordon Ramsay is Scottish, what better place to watch the England-versus-Italy match June 14 than Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Caesars Palace? There are 36 beers on tap, so perhaps down a pint of Innis & Gunn while snacking on the pub’s great version of fish and chips or the sausage-wrapped Scotch egg. 702-731-7410, CaesarsPalace.com.
Spain ➜ España takes on the Netherlands at noon June 13, which is about the time you’ll be ordering your first pitcher of sangria from Barcelona Tapas in Southern Highlands. The extensive tapas menu includes such favorites as patatas bravas, boquerones (white anchovies) and tortilla Española. And don’t forget to pronounce everything with the Catalonian lisp. 10690 Southern Highlands Pkwy., 702-483-5764, BarcelonaTapasLV.com.
Croatia ➜ So as not to offend Serbians or Croatians, I’m going refer to Café Prince as the Balkan joint, where all eyes will likely be on Croatia during the first match of this year’s World Cup, or Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 15. Don’t miss the monstrous makedonska pljeskavica, a ground steak version of chicken cordon bleu stuffed with mozzarella cheese, ham and cream cheese, and wash it down with a cold Novi Sad pivo (beer). The only drawback—or perhaps its most authentic note—how smoky it is inside. You know, like in the old country. 6795 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-220-8322.