Plotting out where to watch the upcoming World Cup can be a daunting task.
Wednesday, May 26th 2010, 12:36 PM
Do you view the first tournament ever played on African soil with ale-addled Brits, sangria-swigging Spaniards or Beaujolais-quaffing Frenchmen?
Do you samba with Brazilians, blow your vuvuzela with proud South Africans or tango with the Argentines when Messi works his magic?
In past years, the options for finding a soccer bar were limited to Nevada Smiths in the East Village - or a bodega with Univision blaring in the background.
Not anymore. Soccer's ascendancy in the U.S. and the city's huge ethnic population will allow those stuck in this hemisphere to sample the global spectacle at a different soccer-centric site each day of the month-long tournament, which kicks off June 11 in Johannesburg.
"The World Cup has gotten really big," said Daniel Moran, a longtime beer distributor from the Bronx, while restocking a midtown client, the Skylight Diner. "Everyone I sell beer to wants me to sell them banners that advertise they're showing the games, even this diner. I can't print enough of them."
Diners and other nontraditional venues will be prime viewing spots because of the six-hour time difference between New York and South Africa. Your favorite watering hole will probably be padlocked when the first group-stage matches begin at 7:30 a.m. The other daily fixtures are set for 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Over the past two months, I used the Champions League games - which started around 2:45 p.m. - to not only get a glimpse of the best players on the planet but also to scout soccer-friendly venues.
Together with my friend Tom, a lawyer who was a soccer teammate in high school and college, we hit beer halls in Queens, trattorias in SoHo and bistros in Brooklyn for the mid-afternoon clashes.
What we found - aside from a lot of other folks playing hooky from work - were fanatics, and fan-addicts who helped us map out where to catch the world's soccer powers and their loyal followings.
Happy bar hopping!
Friday, June 11: South Africa opens the tournament at 10 a.m. against Mexico and the place to witness this historic game will be at Madiba (195 Dekalb Ave.), a restaurant honoring Nelson Mandela's clan name that has served authentic South African fare in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for more than a decade. Husband-and-wife owners Mark and Jenny Henegan plan to roll out a special menu that includes native street foods from World Cup venues in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Stick around for lunch to catch the day's other game between Uruguay and France at 2:30.