So the FIFA World Cup returns this week, and will last all of June, and you won't care. Fine. But you like to eat—American obesity stats prove it. How about a compromise? I'll recommend some restaurants that'll show World Cup games live, you go visit them, eat the great grub and perchance take a glimpse at the tellies in each place broadcasting the world's most beautiful sport outside of girls on trampolines.
Ground Zero for your restaurant World Cup experience is The Olde Ship (709 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-871-7447; also at 1120 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, 714-550-6700; www.theoldeship.com), the duo of wonderfully dank pubs that draws in crowds for pints, soccer and more pints. While papers constantly laud the Olde Ship for its selection of Brit beers and nautical gewgaws, don't overlook its menu, an ample selection of British bar cuisine ranging from crispy fish and chips to a steaming Cornish pasty bulging with beef and veggies, and even black pudding (congealed pig's blood—goes great with toast!). More intriguing is the house curry. By name alone, English curry seems as appetizing as yeast, but the Olde Ship's curry is creamy, slightly spicy, and is better than many of the "authentic" curries slopped out at the county's Indian buffets. If watching soccer live is enough of an adventure for you, the Olde Ship also grills a yummy half-pound burger heavy on the pepper seeds inside the patty.
You don't have to make reservations to watch a World Cup game at the Olde Ship, but you'd better start bribing Elías Níquias now if you want to hang with drunk Argentines at his Regina's Restaurant (11025 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, 714-638-9595; www.reginaargentina.com). Viewing soccer with Argentines is an experience akin to opera, with much yelling, crying and unintelligible curses, and soccer plays on a continuous loop at this charming eatery. Warning: this is a heavily partisan crowd, so better wear the paisley blue jerseys of Argentina's national squad if you don't want patrons to blame you for Argentina's expected first-round flame-out. Either that, or treat people to Níquias' epic platters of beef and pasta—everyone will love you if you order a parrillada, a steel grill packed with barbecued chicken, ribs, buttery sweetbreads and squishy blood sausage.
If Regina's is too crowded, then drive up to El Gaucho Meat Market #2(847 S. State College Ave., Anaheim, 714-776-6400).Most of the market is devoted to uniquely Argentine produce such as wines, dulce de leche (a caramel-like substance) and cuts of cow ranging from the muscle behind the eye to the muscle that constitutes a steer's fine ass. The restaurant section of El Gaucho is really just a counter, where you can order sumptuous empanadas and delicious sub sandwiches no different from those found at an Italian deli. Once you order, grab a table and a frosty Quilmes beer, and scream "¡Hijo de la gran puta!"("Son of the Great Whore!") along with everyone else at the two big screens after Argentina loses. And don't worry if you have to shop while a game is on—just check the action on the television next to the bananas in the produce section.
I'm going to spend most of my Cup at Mariscos El Pescador(315 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, 714-664-8815).For one, I can see the restaurant from my perch at the Weekly world headquarters in Santa Ana, meaning I can sneak away during lunch. Mariscos El Pescador is also adorned with two flat-screen televisions and a couple of other analog TVs in the restaurant's nooks and corners. And its caliente waitresses sashay from table to table wearing soccer jerseys of different countries.
Ultimately, though, a great Cup experience means great food, and true to its name, Mariscos El Pescador (The Fisherman's Seafood) specializes in marine treats, everything from shrimp covered in garlic sauce to shrimp ceviche so plentiful that it's stacked on two tostadas. But there is also a small business in cordoniz (Cornish game hen) and guilotas (quail), two small game birds sweeter, smaller and oilier than chicken. El Pescador prepares them slathered in a fiery sauce, grilled, barbecued, with garlic and always in grande portions. Also on the menu are burritos, tacos, enchiladas—your basic Mexican menu, except bigger and cheaper than most dives.
One final word of advice: pay attention to the soccer. All the restaurants employ comely lasses who'll deliver your food with one eye on the television and the other on you. If you're a gabachowho knows the difference between Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho, you might stand a chance at some free food and more. If not, no worries: the food and atmosphere at each restaurant are treat enough, but doesn't that treat go down better with a señorita cheering wildly on your lap?
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