The D.C. area is a hotbed of support for English Premier League soccer. For three consecutive years, Washington has had the most viewers watching Premier League games of any local market in America. But you don't have to tell that to the fans who willingly wake up before dawn and head out to bars across the region to cheer on their favorite teams.
The Premier League's 2016-17 season kicks off this Saturday, and least half of the teams have official or quasi-official supporters groups that regularly get together to watch matches. (There are also groups for other big European teams from Barcelona to Bayern Munich, whose leagues begin next weekend.) But you should also know that pubs are not strictly segregated: At Ireland's Four Courts, you might see the Roma fans huddled around one TV, the Tottenham fans around another, and the 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 is expected, and given. Again, that's part of the fun.
Remember that some bars don't automatically open for the 7:45 a.m. matches on Saturdays or 8:30 a.m. matches on Sundays. If there's no supporters group there, it's worth calling ahead.
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. The bar is welcoming to all teams, but the booths and tables fill quickly when big teams play on the same day, so early arrival is suggested.
Ireland's Four Courts
One of the area's top Irish pubs, the Four Courts is filled with dark wood and brass. On weekends, it's filled with fans sporting the jerseys of Arsenal (Arlington Gunners), Tottenham (Arlington Spurs), Chelsea (Beltway Blues), Leicester and Bournemouth. (This was seriously the only D.C. bar where I saw Leicester jerseys in the wild during the Foxes' fairy tale season.) The Roma Club of Washington also meets here, and you'll see the odd Liverpool and Manchester United jersey.
Fado, which is part of a coast-to-coast chain of Irish pubs, opened in 1998, and it has been showing soccer longer than almost any bar in the city. Though it's home to the local Everton (DC Toffees) and West Ham (DC Hammers) groups, the Chinatown bar attracts a broad spectrum of fans, heavy on Liverpool and Man United, perhaps drawn by the excellent brunch and well-poured pints of Guinness.
The Queen Vic
Owned by a Liverpool supporter, the Queen Vic is home to Washington's Liverpool fan club, LFCDC, which draws standing-room-only crowds on match days. At other times, the two-story pub is full of fans from the neighborhood wearing Arsenal or West Ham shirts. Aston Villa may have been relegated, but the Queen Vic will still show matches for the Capital Villains when they're available on TV. If your match is on Sunday, the traditional roast is outstanding.
The Washington area's original soccer bar, located in Court House since the 1980s, Summers shows every Premier League match, as well as featured matches from La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1, plus Champions League and international action. It's home to the official Bayern Munich club.
Walter's Sports Bar
A sports bar with a penchant for underdogs, Walter's was home to the DC Canaries, the local Norwich City group. City were relegated last year, and Walter's is now hosting the DC Jacks, the Swansea City supporters club. (Don't worry, Norwich fans: If your match is on beIN Sports, Walter's will still put it on.)
While Drafting Table draws a crowd of Arsenal supporters, the Logan Circle bar opens at 10 a.m. on weekends to show all matches and serve brunch – which includes two hours of all-you-can-drink mimosas or bloody marys for $14.
This Columbia Heights bar is decorated with a framed Messi shirt, a framed Chelsea scarf and other soccer paraphernalia. The owner is a Chelsea fan, but the doors open early for every Premier League match. It draws large crowds for international matches, too.
Elephant and Castle
One of the weirdest things about soccer viewing in Washington is that two of the biggest teams in the world ended up with chain English-style pubs as their home bases. Penya Barcelonista, the official members club for Barcelona fans, watches all of the team's matches at the Elephant and Castle on 19th Street, near the World Bank. Meanwhile, the Pena Madridista, the official Real Madrid group, meets at the Elephant and Castle on Pennsylvania Avenue across from Federal Triangle.
Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle
Fans of Scottish soccer get their fix at this Bethesda pub, the official Washington D.C. Celtic Supporters Club. Selected English matches are shown every weekend – check the TV schedule on the Flanagan's website.
The Georgetown pub doesn't swear allegiance to any particular team, but it does open for brunch at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, with soccer on the TVs.
The Oktoberfest-style beer garden at Biergarten Haus opens at 11 a.m. on weekends, which isn't convenient for most Premier League or Bundesliga viewing. However, the late Bundesliga games (12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. on Sundays) and Premier League games (12:30 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Sundays) will be shown indoors and out.