For serious Olympic enthusiasts, watching the games in just any old setting won’t do; it’s important to be around people who have the same hopes and dreams that you do. After all, why root for your favorite team from that old IKEA couch when you’re not betting on Sweden? And although bars around town will be broadcasting the U.S. team’s greatest moments—including the Opening Ceremonies, Friday at 7:30 p.m.—if you’re a Gallic groupie or Brazilian buff, it doesn’t make sense to share a bar with the enemy. So, here are our picks, by country, of the best places to have a nationalistic good time.
Argentina: Forget Buenos Aires, Gauchas Empanadas (1748 1st Ave., betw. E. 90th & 91st Sts., 212-360-6400) will have the games—including soccer competitions and tennis matches, in which Argentine star David Nalbandian will be competing despite recent injuries—playing on a big-screen TV and will serve classic national snacks, like empanadas. And while it might be too sweltering for mate, beer will be in stock.
Australia: Whether Aussie fans are trying to get over the breakup of swimming superstars Eamon Sullivan and Stephanie Rice, who are both competing despite the high-profile demise of their union, or just in the mood to knock a few back, Eight Mile Creek (240 Mulberry St., betw. Prince and Spring Sts., 212-431-4635) is the place to do it. Besides, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to eat kangaroo without feeling weird about it, this is your chance.
France: At Cobble Hill staple Bar Tabac (128 Smith St., at Dean St., Brooklyn, 718-923-0918), the usually reserved bistro crowd will be brimming with real Frenchmen on the fateful Olympic days as the games play on the large screen above the bar. To keep up your strength, choose from the long list of specialty beers or snack on traditional dishes like mussels or a croque monsieur.
Ireland: While some might make the joke that drinking is in fact the best Irish sport, we would never be so callous. The Emerald Isle is sending athletes to Bejing to compete in everything from badminton to shooting, and a traditional Irish watering hole like Blaggard’s Pub (8 W. 38th St., betw. 5th and 6th Aves., 212-564-8221) is just the type of low-key, upstanding establishment where you can cheer them on.
Italy: Despite the recent rash of Olympians testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Italian boosters still have plenty to look forward to during the summer games. Knock back a Peroni and soak up the fencing, cycling and gymnastics at Bravo Gianni (230 E. 63rd St., at 3rd Ave., 212-752-7272) where the games will be projected on the walls.
Mexico: With the games projected onto a screen above its bar, Cilantro (1712 2nd Ave., betw. 88th and 89th Sts., 212-722-4242) will dish out fajitas and margaritas to Mexico’s fans, despite the fact that the country’s slightly shady Olympic tactics—such as drafting wrestler Larry Mendoza, a Chicago resident with dual citizenship—could be seen as less than sportsman-like.
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