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Where to watch Euro 2020 and Copa America in the D.C. area

Stable, a Swiss restaurant on H Street NE, hosted World Cup viewing parties full of embassy staffers and World Bank employees in 2018. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
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Major soccer tournaments provide an excuse to party, but in Washington, they also amplify the city’s international side. Three years ago, the embassies of Sweden and Germany welcomed the public to a World Cup viewing party in the Swedish ambassador’s back garden, complete with free beer and pretzels. The French Embassy opened its doors for free viewing parties for the semifinal and the final — and then uncorked bottle after bottle of free-flowing champagne to celebrate the victory by Les Bleus.

Unfortunately, those kinds of only-in-Washington events won’t be happening this year, despite the European Championships and South America’s Copa America kicking off this weekend. (Both were originally scheduled for 2020 but were delayed by the global pandemic.) Embassies are still not open to the public. Some of the area’s larger expat groups haven’t decided whether they’re holding events, while others are being cautious. The expat group D.C. Dutch has brought crowds decked in vibrant orange jerseys to Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the men’s and women’s World Cups in recent years, but the group is “not entirely sure how many people will show up since we obviously still have covid,” board member Wendy Reinders says in an email. D.C. Dutch plans to watch the first three matches at the pub, beginning against Ukraine on Sunday, and “fingers crossed that we win these games so we can continue in the quarterfinals,” she says.

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And that’s the secret of watching these tournaments: Be around fans. Whether you’re at an embassy or hanging out in a suburban restaurant’s dining room, the real fun comes when you’re watching with an engaged crowd that’s living and dying with the action on screen — or afterward, as anyone who’s seen couples salsa dancing on the bar at Cafe Citron after a Colombian victory can tell you. It’s squeezing into the Grill From Ipanema one night to cheer and drink caipirinhas with Brazil fans and leaving work early a couple of days later for pints and a chorus of “Three Lions” with the England fans at the Queen Vic pub.

But the bar experience will be different, too, and not just because legendary soccer spots Summers and Fado closed during the pandemic. In any other year when the European Championships and Copa America overlap, “it’s like one party after another party, seven days a week,” says Paul Lusty, the owner of soccer hangout Lucky Bar. Fans of Denmark or Serbia begin packing in around lunch for their team’s games, followed by crowds of Colombians and Peruvians, whose matches are later in the evening. “It’s very challenging, even with a full staff,” he says.

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Therein lies the problem: Over the past 14 months, Lusty says, he’s lost most of his bartenders and managers, and Lucky Bar is operating with a skeleton crew. So when it comes to showing games, “we’re going to pick our battles,” Lusty says. That means showing every game on the opening weekend but showing only afternoon games during the week. “With so few people downtown, I have my doubts” about how turnout will be, Lusty says. More important, he’s considering not showing Copa America at all, because of the limited hours and staff. “I’m still hopeful we can pull off Copa America,” he says, but given how popular viewing parties have been in the past, “I don’t want to overpromise to those Colombian groups and Peruvian groups.” He advises fans to check Lucky Bar’s website before making plans to watch games there.

Here’s a guide to some of the better viewing options around town, whether you’re looking for somewhere to roar for your favorite or adopted team, or just an all-purpose soccer bar where you know the games will be on. Given the challenges of the past year, you might want to call before heading to an old favorite: When we called El Patio in Rockville, long a destination for Argentina fans, we were told it won’t be showing the tournament.

The saving grace, at least for Copa America fans: Because matches kick off at 5 or 8 p.m. Eastern time and they will be shown on Fox Sports and Univision, most sports bars should be able to show the games.

General soccer bars

Across the Pond: The Dupont Circle staple is home to several Premier League supporters groups, which is why it’s recommending fans make reservations for England and Wales matches during Euro 2020. There are plenty of TVs indoors, as well as TVs on the back patio and in the pub’s streatery. In the first round, all weekend games will be shown. During the week, it will have all 3 p.m. midweek games and June 18′s matchup between Croatia and the Czech Republic. Specials are offered during all matches, including $5 Heineken and Strongbow and $6 Guinness.

Dock FC: This Ivy City sports bar, which takes its name from its former use as a loading dock at the Hecht Co. warehouse, is usually a reliable spot to watch soccer. It’s showing Copa America and Euro 2020 matches on a dozen large screens, and it opens early for 9 a.m. kickoffs on weekends. (The bar’s full broadcast schedule, including non-soccer games, is online.) However, it’s open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the moment. If your team is playing on one of those days, it’s a great place to hang out for a couple of hours. If not, you should look elsewhere. UPDATE: On June 14, Dock FC announced that it will be open for select games outside of weekends. Check the bar’s calendar for the latest schedule.

The Fairmont: You might not think of an upscale West End hotel as a place to watch soccer, but the Fairmont Hotel is again turning its lobby bar into a destination. For all of Euro 2020, the Fairmont is showing every game live in its Loggia lounge and lobby bar — and replaying each match later in the day, in case visitors miss the live broadcast. The hotel has a special Euro 2020 menu, too: $29 for a beer, an appetizer and entree.

Ireland’s Four Courts: This Arlington pub is a place to feast on soccer: On June 13, the lineup includes England-Croatia at 9 a.m., Austria-North Macedonia at noon, Netherlands-Ukraine at 3, Argentina-Chile at 5 and Paraguay-Bolivia at 8. (Whew.) It won’t be like that through the whole of both tournaments — the Four Courts isn’t opening for any 9 a.m. midweek games and will open for only a pair of noon kickoffs. But if you want to watch games from both continents without leaving your seat, it remains the best bet. In good weather, arrive early to get a table in the back parking lot, which has been turned into a patio with TVs.

Lucky Bar: Washington’s oldest soccer-centric bar has been hit hard by a lack of business during the coronavirus — at one point, the staff dropped from 20 to three — and it won’t be open for early midweek Euro 2020 matches. Still, the downtown bar remains a great place to watch, with more than two dozen screens, including three projection screens. In nice weather, there’s a sidewalk cafe. Because it’s so well known, Lucky Bar attracts more international fans than any other D.C. bar. If you need to find people to celebrate or commiserate with, there’s a good chance you’ll find them at Lucky.

Wunder Garten: Wunder Garten is the Switzerland of Euro 2020 viewing, with confirmed viewing parties sponsored by the British, French and German embassies. (June 15′s clash between France and Germany should be a popular one.) The NoMa beer garden won’t have every game — it’s opening only for 9 a.m. matches featuring England and France — but it’s a fun place to bring your less die-hard friends to enjoy a European beer outdoors or under a tent.

Team-specific bars

Belgium: Belga Cafe, the Barracks Row restaurant owned by Belgian chef Bart Vandaele, is a regular hangout for fans of the Red Devils. Look for a special menu and discounted beers during games. H Street moules-and-biere bar Granville Moore’s won’t be opening early for Belgium’s first-round games but might reconsider if the team makes it out of its group.

Brazil: The Grill From Ipanema is a sea of yellow-and-green shirts during Brazil games as fans drink beers and caipirinhas. If you want to watch the Copa America hosts (and favorites) at the Adams Morgan restaurant, it’s recommended you arrive at least 30 to 60 minutes before kickoff to try to find a seat.

Colombia: Cafe Citron hosts a weekly Colombian dance party on Wednesday nights, and the Dupont Circle club is just as packed when Los Cafeteros are on the field. (The Colombian Embassy is just around the corner.) Stick around for DJs and drinks after the match.

England: Giant English breakfasts and imperial pints of English ales make the Queen Vic D.C.'s English pub of choice, so plan to arrive extra early if you want a seat to watch England. The H Street pub will also show select Wales matches, including on Father’s Day.

Germany: Biergarten Haus has been drawing Germany fans since the day it opened, just before the 2010 World Cup. Even though it has a spacious, shaded courtyard and a large rooftop deck, there can still be lines down the block for big matches. Reservations are available only for six or more. Arrive early for the best views of the TVs. (The beer garden will also be open for Austria matches, in the spirit of friendship.)

The Netherlands: The Dutch didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but the orange-clad crowds are heading back to the Elephant and Castle pub on Pennsylvania Avenue for the Euros. It’s a friendly crowd. “Just wear something orange and you will fit right in,” says Reinders, of D.C. Dutch.

North Macedonia: The Cinderella story of this European Championship is North Macedonia, with a population of just over 2 million. This is the country’s first major tournament, and the United Macedonian Diaspora is hosting a viewing party at Dock FC for the country’s first match, against Austria on June 13. Kickoff is at noon.

Peru: Public Bar Live is packed with Peruvian fans whenever La Blanquirroja plays, and it will be their home throughout Copa America, but the downtown sports bar and nightspot, which has more than 40 TVs over three levels, plans to show every Copa America match.

Spain: When he’s not saving the world, chef José Andrés is a keen soccer fan. In 2010, he watched Spain win a World Cup semifinal at his Jaleo restaurant in Bethesda, and then flew to South Africa to watch the team win its first title. If you want to cheer for Spain — and maybe spot the celebrity chef — all Jaleo locations and the new Spanish Diner in Bethesda will be showing Spain’s matches.

Switzerland: Stable is Washington’s only Swiss restaurant, and it became a popular gathering spot for Swiss Embassy workers and World Bank employees during the last World Cup. The H Street restaurant will show matches again during Euro 2020, but Stable is operating with reduced hours, so it will show only matches that happen during service hours. That rules out June 16’s cross-Alps showdown with Italy, unfortunately.

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