When the screams erupted in the basement of Astro Beer Hall on Tuesday afternoon, they were born of a combination of joy, exhilaration and unbridled release of tension. After 90 minutes of soccer, plus an excruciating nine minutes of injury time, the United States advanced past Iran and qualified for the World Cup’s round of 16. And after supporters finished high-fiving and bouncing around like ping-pong balls in a hopper, there was a question looming: Where were they going to watch the United States take on the Netherlands on Saturday morning at 10?
Astro Beer Hall, located across the street from Metro Center, is the headquarters of the D.C. chapter of the American Outlaws, the best-known group for supporters of the U.S. soccer teams. The group provides the closest thing to a stadium experience, with the thundering of drums reverberating off concrete walls, and capos leading songs and chants through a megaphone while wall-to-wall crowds join in. On Tuesday, every table and bar stool in the main viewing area had been claimed by 12:30 p.m., more than 90 minutes before the win-or-go-home match kicked off. And this was on a day when, presumably, a lot of people who would have liked to cheer on the Americans in a packed bar were stuck working. What’s it going to be like on a Saturday morning?
Astro Beer Hall is opening at 6 a.m., with seating on a first-come, first-seated basis, and “We will hit capacity,” the American Outlaws tweeted on Tuesday night. “Please plan accordingly.”
That is not an idle threat. On Black Friday, when the U.S. faced England in its second group match, Astro Beer Hall was operating a one-in, one-out system more than two hours before kickoff. There were similar scenes at soccer bars across the city: Across the Pond, Duffy’s Irish Pub and the Queen Vic had sold out of reservations, with fans queuing for standing room spaces. There were lines outside Wunder Garten and Franklin Hall. H Street’s Biergarten Haus, usually a stronghold for Germany supporters, was so busy that its rooftop deck was opened, according to staff.
Even Penn Social, one of the four “overflow bar partners” that the American Outlaws had arranged to welcome U.S. fans when Astro Beer Hall could not, was full just 90 minutes after Astro.
So, where to watch on Saturday morning? Bars known as soccer hot spots are already filling up.
Across the Pond’s tables are booked to capacity as early as 8:30 a.m., though there are some bar stools remaining for 8:45 arrivals, and there will be room for walk-ins after 9:30 a.m., space permitting.
At the Queen Vic, where owner Ryan Gordon says there were more U.S. fans than England fans in attendance on Tuesday, all tables and bar stools have been booked for Saturday’s match, but Gordon says the Queen Vic might allow up to 70 more people between standing room; the British pub’s outdoor parklet on H Street; and overflow on the patio of Nomad, a restaurant a few doors down from the Queen Vic, which will all be first-come, first-served.
It’s a similar story at Duffy’s, which has sold out of tickets that include guaranteed seats along with an open bar but will allow open seating on its patio and some standing room inside.
One of the rare places taking reservations is Hook Hall, where the District Sports rec soccer league has organized a “Pack the Hall” viewing party. The $20 ticket includes a guaranteed seat and an Atlas beer, with proceeds going to local nonprofit DC Scores.
This means that most people are going to be watching at a bar that’s open on a first-come, first served basis. There are a few rules to remember: First, get to the bar earlier than you think you need to. You want to be the person who’s in a seat with a drink in hand and breakfast on the way before kickoff, not the group that’s hurriedly looking around for a place just before the anthems play. (If you’re going to require a table so you can eat, arrive even earlier. Those who are just ordering Bloody Marys from the bar can be a little looser but still should build in extra time.)
Also, make sure you have a backup plan, preferably in walking distance. If you show up at Last Call near Union Market and it’s at capacity, it’s good to know about La Cosecha around the corner, which is a fine destination in its own right. Likewise, if you’re turned away at Astro Beer Hall, it’s good to know that it’s twice as fast to get to satellite viewing location Penn Social as it is to hike up to Public Bar Live.
With all that said, here are some of the better options for watching the United States on Saturday, as well as updated information from prominent soccer viewing spots. A longer list of recommended bars appears in our earlier World Cup coverage, and those will continue to show matches as the tournament moves to its knockout stages.
Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse: The veteran Arlington theater shows all U.S. matches on a movie screen, which puts the TVs in your local sports bar to shame. Free tickets can be reserved online. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., and seats are first-come, first-served.
Astro Beer Hall: The hub of the American Outlaws is expected to fill up hours before kickoff. Before the Iran match, staff handed out color-coded wristbands that allowed fans access to different sections of the two-level bar, in an attempt to prevent overcrowding. Most of the noise and fun is in the basement, so early arrival becomes even more important. (The other side of the coin is that the upstairs is more family-friendly.) Follow the American Outlaws on Twitter for updates about entry and capacity; when Astro Beer Hall hits capacity, American supporters are directed to go to one of four “overflow” bars: Public Bar Live, Penn Social, Franklin Hall and Clubhouse Georgetown.
Biergarten Haus: With the tournament in its second phase, the German beer garden now opens at 9 a.m. on game days. The roof deck has been tented and heated for additional viewing space, while the patio has wood-burning fire pits. While it’s best known for hosting German supporters, the bar has been full of American fans during this tournament.
Franklin Hall: Long lines formed outside Franklin Hall before the United States faced England. The Cardozo bar, which recently unveiled a 2,400-foot expansion, opens doors at 8 a.m. with specials including $4 Miller Lites, $6 Tito’s cocktails and $6 Silver Branch Chasing the Cup lager.
Last Call: Daily drink specials and free food have made the unassuming Union Market tavern an unexpectedly popular place for World Cup viewing. On Saturday, doors open at 9 a.m., and free hot dogs are offered during the U.S. match. Deals include $4 Miller Lites, $4 Jim Beam shots and $5 Jim Beam old-fashioneds.
Midlands Beer Garden: The Midlands opens at 8 a.m., and customers are encouraged to grab a bagel from Call Your Mother down the block. Games are shown with sound indoors and out, and happy hour begins at 11 a.m.
O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub: The Clarendon pub has been packed with U.S. fans throughout the tournament. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Port City Brewery: The Alexandria brewery continues its streak of showing U.S. games on a projection screen in its indoor beer garden, with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. Port City is “looking for a food truck to serve breakfast”; check the website for updates.
Public Bar: Like Franklin Hall, Public Bar is an “overflow” space for American fans, but the three-level Dupont sports bar has been attracting crowds throughout the tournament and opening early for all matches, shown on a large projection screen and numerous other TVs.
The Roost: The Roost’s Cameo coffee shop and Red Apron Butcher already open daily for breakfast at 8 a.m. During the World Cup, the Potomac Avenue food hall’s Hi-Fi Taco and Shelter beer bar join them to offer bodega sandwiches, breakfast tacos, and $5 beers from Shelter’s stellar selection of low-ABV drafts and cask ales.
Solace Outpost: Solace Brewing’s sunny Navy Yard taphouse opens its doors at 9 a.m.
Wunder Garten: Wunder Garten has begun to shift into its annual Winterfest mode, with festive decorations, a Christmas tree lot and hot cocktails, but it’s also keeping a focus on the World Cup. (The embassies of Switzerland and Serbia are special guests Friday afternoon.) Spiked coffee and tea might come in handy Saturday morning, when the NoMa beer garden opens at 9 a.m. Note that reservations are requested but not required, so even if the Eventbrite page says “sold out,” admission is still on a first-come, first-served basis.
Zinnia: The former Mrs. K’s Toll House in Silver Spring opens its cafe at 8 a.m. and starts serving brunch at 10 a.m. while showing matches on multiple TVs.
Oh, and if you support the Dutch? They’re at Elephant and Castle, across from Federal Triangle.
The Netherlands vs. the United States kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday on Fox.