Turnover at a major D.C. government department is raising questions about local businesses, political contributions and influence in city politics.
The FIFA World Cup is in full swing in Brazil. And bars and restaurants around Washington are catering to specific expats, immigrant communities and loyal fan groups. On game day, Brazilian fans come together to watch the Seleção at the Grill from Ipanema in the District. The American Outlaws– a supporter club of the U.S. soccer team– converge on the Laughing Man Tavern. We find out the best place to watch (almost) all 32 teams competing this summer.
- Fritz Hahn Bars and Clubs Editor, Washington Post Going Out Guide
Here’s Where You’re Watching The World Cup
These were our listeners’ top pics for World Cup viewing spots. Click on each map point for more information.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIEvery four years soccer's World Cup pulls something of a magic trick. It makes TV watching a major social event. When the United States played its first match on Monday, hundreds of people lined up for hours to get into the Laughing Man Tavern in Northwest D.C. to watch the game with a crew of like-minded fans of the red, white and blue.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAt the Biergartenhaus on H Street, German fans are already making reservations for tables as much as four hours before their country's Saturday's match. And so it will play out in bars and embassies across our very international region over the next month or so.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs the Washington Post bar reporter, it's Fritz Hahn's job to keep up with all of those events, sample national dishes and beer specials from around the world. It's a tough job for a soccer fan to be sure, but somebody's got to do it. He joins us in studio. Fritz Hahn, welcome back.
MR. FRITZ HAHNThank you for having me.
NNAMDIWe tend to think of TV as an antisocial medium, but every once in a while something strange happens. Strangers actually want to assemble in mass at bars to communally root for a team that's playing halfway around the world, even when they can watch the game at home. What's going on here? You say this is going to be the best World Cup watching in 20 years. Why so?
HAHNWell, I think part of it is perfect timing. And I'm not just referring to the fact that soccer has been exploding in America. It's also that this is the first Cup, first World Cup in several years where the timing of the matches is perfect for people. You know, the first kickoff of the day is at noon. So if you can sneak out of the office and take a long lunch, watch Holland play, then you're going to do that. And then the last match of the day is at 6:00, which is perfect for happy hour.
NNAMDIAnd because Brazil is on the same time zone that we are right now, there's no calculation that has to be made, except can anybody see me when I'm sneaking out of work? If you'd like to join the conversation call 800-433-8850. Where are you watching the World Cup these days? Are there any particular matches you're excited for? You can also go to our website where we've created a poll at kojoshow.org, about your favorite places to watch soccer and where you're spending your weekends and occasional workdays watching the programs.
NNAMDILet us know what kind of atmosphere you prefer, which team you're rooting for and your favorite places around our region to watch the games. Go to kojoshow.org or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. So far, you should know the places that came up most often on social media, Lucky Bar in D.C., Roofer's Union, Public Bar, and Del Campo. But, Fritz, 2002 was particularly brutal in terms of the time, right? Since the games were played in Japan and South Korea. And since Virginia laws limit the hours when alcohol can be served.
HAHNYeah, I wound up watching matches with friends at 4:00 in the morning, at bars in Arlington because you have to remember, one, this is before the widespread telecast of games, when every channel was showing it. And, you know, they had to stop serving drinks at 2:00 a.m. And then they couldn't start serving drinks again until 6:00 a.m. So we were just sitting there, watching, drinking coffee to stay awake. It's a much better atmosphere now.
NNAMDIFor a lot of soccer fans watching a game in a bar is really the best place to experience the sport. It sounds strange, but it's true. But you've been writing about bars where you need to arrive two hours -- sometimes more -- early. How come? That's a bit much, isn't it?
HAHNYeah, and I think this is one of the things that American sports fans aren't quite familiar with. You know, when we make plans to go watch a football game, go watch a Nationals game at a bar, we assume, okay, well, the game starts at 7:00, I can show up at 6:30, 6:45, it's not going to matter. But I heard from people who went to Laughing Man to watch the game with the American Outlaws -- that's the big U.S. fan group.
HAHNAnd they got there an hour and a half before the game and there were already 20 people in line in front of them. The bar was completely packed, hundreds of people. And they were panicking trying to figure out where to go. They'd go to another bar nearby and that bar was full. So, you know, the idea of planning is something that is really important for the World's Cup.
NNAMDIWell, I feel lucky since my only problem was finding a seat in the bar. You've compiled a pretty comprehensive list of places across Washington, especially if you want to watch Germany or Honduras play among other fans of those specific teams. But there are a couple of bars that are just plain great soccer bars. Which are your favorites?
HAHNWell, I really like Lucky Bar just because I think they get a fantastic assortment of fans. You could go there to watch a random match, you know, a team -- watch a match where you're not really supporting either team and you'll be standing next to a guy in an England shirt who's standing next to a guy in a Portugal shirt who's standing next to a guy in a U.S. and everyone is just fascinated and they want to talk about their favorite teams.
HAHNI think that's a really good place. Beer Garden House, which is kind of German-centric, but at the same time, you find so many people there. I watched the Germany match there on Monday, but there was also people there carrying Nigerian flags and cheering for Nigeria, people wearing Iranian T-shirts and the U.S. match just completely packed the place.
HAHNThere was a line to get in.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Fritz Hahn. He is bar and clubs editor with The Washington Post Going Out Guide. Inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Where are you watching the World Cup these days? Any particular matches you're excited for? Let us know. 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an international city. It isn't much of a stretch to say that all 32 teams probably have some group that's gathering around a TV somewhere and cheering them on.
NNAMDIYou say you like this tournament because it brings a lot of people out that you might not always even realize or even hear. Like who?
HAHNWell, I'm going to say, for example, there's a very large population of people from the Ivory Coast in the area and, you know, if you walk around embassy row, you might have walked past the embassy on Massachusetts Avenue and think, oh, that's interesting. But they threw open the doors to the embassy on Saturday night, provided free food, free coolers full of beer and had hundreds of people sitting and watching on giant projector screens and cheering and dancing when (word?) scored.
HAHNAnd it was just the most amazing atmosphere. And I think a lot of people might not think, oh, you know, there's a very large Australian community in Washington, but there is. And there is an Australian in Washington, ex-pat group who hosts family-friendly, bring-the-kids, Worlds Cup watching parties at Fado, downtown.
NNAMDISo a lot of people who you may not know -- you knew they were citizens of those countries here, you just didn't know in how large numbers there...
NNAMDI...were here until you go to one of their soccer celebrations like at the embassy of Cote d'Ivoire. Our web producer, Erica Hendry, flagged an interesting tweet for us, this one from Ryan. It says, "I know it sounds lame, but I watch Team USA at home. Too stressful to watch at a bar, full concentration is needed, ha-ha."
NNAMDIThis is an interesting observation because some true, true soccer fans would not be caught dead in a public space when their team is playing because they follow weird superstitious routines and they become very irritable when things aren't going that well. I know that our managing producer, who shall remain nameless, I think, counts himself among those people. You know people like that?
HAHNI do. And I know people who when the U.S. was scored upon on Monday night, their faces just fell and there was like a hush that descended over the bar. But, you know, the great part was, people started chanting, I believe that we will win and just shot electricity through the room. And next thing you know, people are bouncing up and down and cheering and chanting, USA over and over.
HAHNAnd just when the final goal went in, everyone went nuts. The people were tackling each other, high-fiving strangers, jumping up and down, beer glasses were knocked over. It was just an amazing scene.
NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here's Tracy in Washington, D.C. Tracy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TRACYThanks for taking my call. I just wanted to add to favorite places to watch the World Cup. We have a favorite place in Logan's Circle called Drafting Table. It's on 14th and Q and they have a great, really unique beer selection. They're always a soccer destination, even when the World Cup is not on and great food and always like a great neighborhood vibe. So I just wanted to add that to the mix. Drafting Table.
NNAMDIGlad you mentioned great food also, Tracy, because this is Food Wednesday. And Fritz, this is can to be a great opportunity to go out and enjoy an Argentine or Brazilian or Honduran meal. If I'm looking for a great experience and great food, but I don't really know very much about the teams, which place would you recommend?
HAHNThat's an interesting question. I like going to places that I don't usually go to, like Roger Miller in Silver Spring, which is named after the Cameroonian football star. And it's a great little African restaurant. Now, they don't have a ton of TVs there, but you can go in there and cheer for Ghana or cheer for Cameroon. They're very West African focused. And you can try dishes that you might not have had before.
NNAMDIAh, Cameroon plays today at 6:00, right?
NNAMDIOh, you just gave me a spot I might check out. Here is Raza in Vienna, Virginia. Raza, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
RAZAHello and thank you for the good show. I am an Iranian American and a bunch of friends, we went to Velocity Pub in Arlington. Today, Iran played Nigeria. Over 300 or 400 people in there. Restaurant, great food, 30 TV screens and all good old friends. I've been in this country close to 40 years, really enjoyed it. I vote for two teams. Of course, my old country, Iran, and also the US team and we were able to play both games at that same night, one at 3 o'clock, one at 6:00.
RAZAAnd the result was satisfaction.
NNAMDIRaza, I'm curious. Do Iranians forget all internal political conflicts when it comes to time of the World Cup? Everybody roots for Iran.
RAZAOh, they are crazy about it in Iran and it's just such a big event when the World Cup is played, whether Iran plays in it or not. But this time, since Iran was able to make it to the World Cup, as a matter of fact, the beat South Korea in Seoul to make it out there and they were number one in their group. People are just -- do not waste any time. They watch these events at home or in other places they can watch it at.
RAZAAnd soccer is -- or football, what they call it there, it's very, very big in Iran no matter what regime...
NNAMDIAnd just about every place else in the world.
RAZA...or what country it is in, they love to watch it and they are crazy about it.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Raza. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850. Where are you watching the World Cup? Are there any particular matches you're excited about? You can also go to our website, kojoshow.org and tell us where you're watching. 800-433-8850. What's the difference, Fritz, between soccer and the World Cup and, says, March Madness?
HAHNPeople are way more into the USA, I think, and, in particular countries. The other thing is that March Madness, it's so -- you win or you're out. And the idea here that, okay, well, maybe Spain didn't do so great in that first game against Holland, but they have a...
NNAMDIYeah, five, zip, right?
HAHNFive -- yeah. Five, one.
HAHNAnd they have a chance for redemption today. You know, they're playing Chile and I'm sure there are going to be lots of people at Jaleo, people at 100 Montaditos, which is a little Spanish sandwich place in Bethesda that the embassy actually recommended to me as a good place to watch the game. But there are going to be a lot of people there who will be really hoping they can come back and it's not over yet.
NNAMDIIt's not over yet. There are still games to go. And if your team is involved in it, it's still alive. Here is Kadani in Washington D.C. Kadani, your turn.
KADANIHello, Kojo. You know, according to commercials that people are (unintelligible) to your guests, you know, what they're showing now is like a staying home, making love and having babies and it goes before -- because of football. Thank you very much.
NNAMDIOh, that's the only observation you wanted to make. Okay, yeah, well, I guess there are people who, like our managing producer, who shall remain nameless, who would prefer to watch the game without a whole lot of people around 'cause he gets a little upset when his team happens to be losing. I was watching one of the games earlier this week, Italy versus England.
NNAMDIAnd one thing struck me. One of the superstars on Italy, Mario Balotelli, is black and most of the English squad is black or of mixed race. Many of these teams are made up of people who were born somewhere else and a lot of these players ply their trade in other parts of the world. It seems like this sport, and this event in particular, really are showcases for how complex and diverse the world and the global economy has become.
HAHNI think so, I mean, you look at teams like Belgium and you look at how they have improved and become a great team. You know, I think they were fifth favorites for the World Cup, before it started. And they have players from all over the Diaspora playing for them. And people who move there. The Swiss team is also very consistent. They have a number of Albanian's, they have players who, Johan Djourou, who is born in Cote d'lvoire.
HAHNAnd people who have come and assimilated and, and they're all cheering for their team. And I think you also see that with a lot of people, as our previous caller was saying, people who've come to the United States now cheer for the United States. And I think, that's a really wonderful thing to see, is just the diversity of faces, all wearing red, white and blue.
NNAMDIHere's Lisa (sic), in Kensington, Md. Lisa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Oh, Lisa, that's, of course, my fault. Lisa is now on the air. Go ahead, please, Lisa .
NEESANeesa, thank you. I'm calling from Kensington, Md. I'm a Muslim-American and I love, you know, I love football so much. I just wanted to know, is there any place that I can go that doesn't serve alcohol? 'Cause I really want to go and hang out and feel the team spirit. I, I was in a house -- I've been in a house watching it, like, oh my gosh, like what about...
NNAMDIYou want to be among people.
NNAMDIShe wants to be with convivial companions, Fritz Hahn.
HAHN...I was going to say, actually, Roger Miller, which is the Cameroonian place we were talking about earlier, doesn't actually have a liquor license. Which is one of the interesting things about it. So you will go there and you'll see a lot of people hanging out, watching the TV but not really, not really drinking.
NEESAOh, that's awesome, okay, well thank you. I'm gonna go there today.
HAHNSure, it's downtown Silver Spring.
NEESAYeah, yes, not too far from my house, thanks so much.
NNAMDIAnd you should know that the soccer players name was spelt Miller, M-I-L-L-A, but the establishment is M-I-L-L-E-R, is that correct.
NNAMDIWhat about watching the game with kids or with a family?
HAHNYou know, it really varies by bar. But a lot of the places that are showing games during the day, such as Fado, which is showing the Australian game today, they're okay with bringing kids in but it's when you get to those games that are later in the day, the ones starting at six o'clock, when the scene becomes a lot more about the happy hour, then people sometimes are not as welcoming to kids.
HAHNSo if you're gonna take the kids out, I would try doing it, you know, maybe, an afternoon -- a Saturday afternoon, a Sunday afternoon. There were plenty of kids, I will say at Beer Garden House, at -- for the Germany game at noon on Monday.
NNAMDIHere is Alex in Alexandria, Va. Alex, your turn.
ALEXHey, good afternoon, Kojo. We love your show, always. I've been hear this program for a couple years and then we like your accent, actually I'm from Ethiopia...
ALEX...by the way. Yeah. So, yeah, we do -- watching the, this program, like whatever the World Cup in Virginia and downtown Alexandria, actually.
ALEXIf you come up by Skyline, there is a beautiful Ethiopian restaurant and they have, you know, I'm -- I hope you've been in an Ethiopian restaurant, I hope for you try Ethiopian food as well.
ALEXSo if you come up to Grapes (sp?) and they have a good dish, Ethiopian foods...
NNAMDIAnd they'll be watching all the games?
ALEX...and they have -- and we have, we have been watching beautiful games. Over there, they have big screen and then we watched American game on Monday...
NNAMDIU.S. and Ghana.
ALEX...over there. No, I'm from Ethiopia and I was supporting America.
NNAMDIOkay, thank you very much for your call. We got a Tweet from Julia who wants to know, "How can you watch at an embassy? My Grandparents are British and wondering if we would be allowed at the British embassy to watch." Do you know, Fritz?
HAHNIt really varies by embassy. The embassy of Cote d'lvoire was just opened to the public, it was an event organized by the Committee to Support the Elephants, which is an official group that supports the soccer team. But some other embassy's, like the English -- the British embassy, don't open to the public, whether that's for security reasons or just because they're going to be showing it somewhere else.
HAHNThe -- I think, the probably the best thing to do, is we're gonna be updating daily on Washingtonpost.com, in our Going Out Guide, when we find these kinds of screenings because these are very special screens. There aren't very many chances that the average person has to go into an embassy, let alone go in there and drink beer and cheer for a soccer team.
NNAMDIHere's Ali in Washington, D.C. Ali, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ALIHi, Kojo. I'm a fan of your show and thank you. I just have a comment about the, your other caller, about the Iranian team.
ALII'm also an Iranian-American and I'm very conflicted but I don't support the team. I don't think you can go around the world in 280,000 in Syria and hundreds of thousands of other people in your country and then just turn around and say, okay, lets kiss and makeup as if nothing has happened, lets play soccer now. No. I do not support the Iranian team and I hope they lose...
NNAMDI...blame the team for the sins, in your view, of the government?
ALIWell, Kojo, here is the thing. It's the same as the Iranian theater, it's the same as the Iranian movies, its, it reflects or it shows to the people, and that's the only reason they allow these teams to come outside and play. As if nothing is happening in the world, in Iran. As if there are no executions and they've tens of other athletes have not been executed.
ALIAs if you cannot to say anything in the country against the government, as if we are just another normal country, hey, lets play soccer. You know, it's like the, the Olympics that (unintelligible) had, just before the second World War, as if like, whoa, here, here you're just another normal country. We have these great movies, we play soccer...
ALI...you know, it's all part of the system. So that's my reason.
NNAMDII think North Korea made the last World Cup. I suspect Ali wouldn't be routing for that team either. For people who view this as a nuisance, completely, Fritz Hahn, you're comp -- currently compiling an anti-World Cup list of bars that do not have televisions. Which are your favorites in that vein?
HAHNWell, I think, there's a number of really great new bars and restaurants that, that just don’t have televisions because they see it, you know, as you mentioned earlier, as kind of a distraction, an anti-social thing. I'm a fan of the Gibson, the cocktail bar on 14th Street, does not have TV's. Bar Pilar, also on 14th, they're upstairs bar which is a great little place to go for a beer or a cocktail, no TV's
HAHNAnd Two Birds, One Stone, which is this fantastic little lounge, underneath Doi Moi in -- on 14th Street. They also don't have TV's. So you go there and no one will be watching the World's Cup and you can have a drink and converse and not talk about soccer.
NNAMDIHere is Sonia, in Arlington, Va. Sonia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SONIAI wanna keep talking about soccer. And one of the places that you can go and have dessert or Ethiopian food is Dama, D-A-M-A, on Columbia Pike. And they show all the games, all the time.
NNAMDIOkay, thank you very much. We have time for one more and that would be Maraina, in Washington, D.C. Maraina, what do you have to say about your soccer viewing habits?
MARAINAHi, my, my three kids and I have prepared a Parisian dish out of (word?) and also a Nigerian stew and since the game's live or played during the daytime, during my work hours, we watched it just before midnight, Iran and Nigeria play, and it was a good game. Excuse me. And I think that soccer kind of opens up the door for, at least, dialogue when it comes to Iran. And so I was excited to see them playing especially seeing them play Nigeria. I was in Iran during the...
NNAMDIThose dishes that you said, that you prepared are making everyone hungry. We're gonna have to get your address and we'll have a crew coming over there to watch the game with you. Thank you very much for your call. Fritz Hahn, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDIFritz Hahn is Bars and Clubs editor with The Washington Post, Going Out Guide. Our rib our managing producer, Brendan Sweeney a lot, about how upset he gets when his team loses but the fact is, it embarrasses me that he knows more about this game then I do and I've been watching it so much longer then he has. Thank you all for listening, I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up tomorrow on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," the surge in underage migrants, how children fleeing violence, thousands of miles south of the boarder became and immigration crisis here. Then at 1:00, a voice for women, building networks and pushing back against violence in India and Afghanistan. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," noon till 2:00 tomorrow, on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.
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