The Washington region is rabid for England’s Premier League: Washington had the highest viewing ratings for Premier League broadcasts over the 2018-2019 season, according to NBC, after two seasons as the runner-up market. At least half of the top-flight teams have an official or quasi-official supporters group that gathers in a local bar or two, sometimes alongside fans of European giants, such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
These groups are the best way to feel connected to a team playing thousands of miles away, and the best reason never to hit snooze and record the match, or watch from the comfort of your couch. There's something life-affirming about putting on a jersey, getting to the pub at 7:30 a.m. and cheering every goal with people who feel as nervous or jubilant as you do. The camaraderie is the reason to keep going back.
Keep in mind, though, that a pub hosting a specific team doesn't mean that others are left out: At Ireland's Four Courts, you might see Roma fans huddled around one TV, Tottenham fans around another, and Arsenal fans at the far end of the bar. You'll find fans in Chelsea shirts watching their match against Manchester City at Lucky Bar, even though Lucky Bar is home to the local Manchester City group. Banter between groups is expected, and given. That's part of the fun.
Bars for supporters of Premier League teams
Lucky Bar: The most popular soccer bar in Washington has two floors packed with large-screen TVs and decorated with team scarves and national flags. It’s home to the official supporters groups for Arsenal (D.C. Armoury), Manchester City (Capital City Blues) and Manchester United (Red Devils DC), which guarantees atmosphere every week. And it’s not just for the English: You’ll find the official supporters clubs for Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon here, among other international viewers. While the bar is welcoming to all teams, the booths and tables fill quickly when big sides play on the same day, so early arrival is strongly suggested. 1221 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Ireland’s Four Courts: One of the area’s top Irish pubs, the Four Courts in Arlington is filled with dark wood and brass. On weekends, it’s packed with fans sporting the jerseys of Arsenal (Arlington Gooners), Chelsea (Beltway Blues), Tottenham (Arlington Spurs), Crystal Palace (Crystal Palace D.C.) and a mix of Liverpool, Manchester United, Leicester and Bournemouth supporters. The Roma Club of Washington also meets here. Good thing there are multiple bar areas to keep everyone happy, as well as cheap brunch specials. 2051 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.
Fado: The coast-to-coast chain of Irish pubs has a reputation for showing soccer, and this Chinatown outpost attracts its fair share of tourists. But there are plenty of regulars who come in to watch matches in the bar or while having brunch in the dining room, including fan groups for Everton (D.C. Toffees) and West Ham (D.C. Irons). It’s also friendly ground for Manchester United and Liverpool fans, so expect to see those jerseys in the crowd. 808 Seventh St. NW.
The Queen Vic: The English-inspired pub has a great Sunday roast and a lineup of English and Scottish brews on tap. It’s mobbed with members of the local Official Liverpool F.C. Supporters Club when the team is playing, and supporters show up hours before big games to get a seat. The Capital Villans also meet at the pub to cheer Aston Villa’s return to the top flight. At other times, you’ll find jersey-wearing supporters from the neighborhood who just show up to watch their team’s games and have a pint. With two levels and numerous TVs, including one on the back patio, there’s enough room for everyone. 1206 H St. NE.
Irish Channel Pub: The surprisingly spacious Irish pub and sports bar inside Chinatown’s Fairfield Inn and Suites is the official viewing location for DC Spurs, the Tottenham Hotspur supporters group. 500 H St. NW.
Dock FC: This Ivy City bar, owned by former soccer player-turned-restaurateur Ari Gejdenson, features large TVs on every wall, and a full slate of matches from England, Germany, Spain, France and Brazil, as well as MLS and NWSL. It’s home to the Newcastle United group Toon Army DC. 1400 Okie St. NE.
The Airedale: Owned by a Chelsea supporter (with the tattoo to prove it), home to the local Borussia Dortmund Fan Group and decorated with framed shirts and scarves, the Airedale shows Premier League and Bundesliga matches while serving brunch and a mix of local and German draft beers. The biergarten-style tables upstairs are an inviting place to hang out after the game. 3605 14th St. NW.
Summers Restaurant: Summers has been showing soccer since the 1980s, long before anyone else in the Washington area. Get there at the right time, and it’s possible to watch games from England, France, Germany and Spain without having to change seats. (A full schedule is on the bar’s website.) The bar is home to the Washington area’s official FC Bayern Munich fan club. 1520 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington.
Walter’s Sports Bar: Walter’s is set up for viewing parties, with two dozen TVs, including a 220-inch screen. The owners promise to show every game, even though they’re trying to make it a destination for Norwich City fans. (They have a thing for underdogs: Walter’s sister bar, DC Reynolds, is home to a Swansea City supporters group.) 10 N St. SE.
Non-Premier League viewing options
Elephant & Castle: One of the weirdest things about Washington’s soccer bar scene is that two of the biggest teams in the world ended up with chain English-style pubs as their home bases. Penya Barcelonista Washington DC, the official members club for Barcelona fans, watches all of the team’s matches at the Elephant & Castle on 19th Street, near the World Bank. Meanwhile, the Peña Madridista, the official Real Madrid group, meets at the Elephant & Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue across from Federal Triangle. 900 19th St. NW; 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Biergarten Haus: The vibe is more Oktoberfest than sports bar, but Biergarten Haus has plenty of TVs on its patio. Doors don’t open until 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which isn’t convenient for most English kickoffs, but it’s perfect for fans of German clubs, or U.S. Men’s National Team fans who want to follow Weston McKennie at Schalke or Josh Sargent with Werder Bremen, as the late Bundesliga matches usually kick off at 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. 1355 H St. NE.
This story was originally published Aug. 6, 2015. It has been updated.