WORLD CUP WATCH GUIDE

Where to watch the World Cup: 13 Houston bars and restaurants that love the beautiful game

Where to watch the World Cup: 13 Houston bars and restaurants that love the beautiful game
Watch the World Cup with Brian Ching at Pitch 25. Courtesy of Pitch 25

Eric Sandler is food editor of CultureMap/Houston. This article originally appeared on that site.

Even though the United States isn’t in the tournament, Houstonians are coming down with a full blown case of World Cup Fever. Given the city’s diversity, it’s no surprise that people will be rooting for the countries their families immigrated from or just cheering on favorite stars.

Of course, a number of Houston bars and restaurants are catering to Cup fans with special menus and, more importantly, special hours. With the games taking place across Russia, most matches are kicking off in the morning — one as early as 5 am. This guide notes which places are opening early.

After all, there’s nothing like stumbling into work a little late with beer breath after catching a 7 am tilt between Sweden and South Korea.

 

La Calle
The downtown taco joint and its companion cantina will be open for all of the matches with plenty of good viewing angles than to its 75 and 85-inch TVs. World Cup specials include $3.99 paleta shots, $4 draft beers, $5 frozen Chamoyritas, and $8 bowls of menudo. Fans can also expect merchandise giveaways courtesy of Soccer4All. Best of all, those who spend at least $20 earn free parking in the garage at 805 Franklin Street. 909 Franklin St.

Pitch 25 Beer Park
In keeping with the spirit of its co-owner Brian Ching, the newly opened beer garden and soccer bar will open as early as 7 am for World Cup matches. Dine on a special breakfast menu while sipping on beer or wine from the 100 taps. Group reservations are also available. Pitch 25 will also celebrate the start of the World Cup Wednesday night with a special four-on-four soccer tournament on its indoor pitch. 2120 Walker St.

The Gorgeous Gael
As the official watch spot for ESPN 97.5’s weekly show Soccer Matters, the Rice Village bar will be open for all World Cup matches with a full menu of food, drinks, and beer. 5555 Morningside Dr.

The Richmond Arms Pub
The venerable English pub will open early for all matches, including the 5 am tilt between France and Australia, with a special breakfast menu. As always, no cover charge to watch the matches. See Facebook for the full schedule. 5920 Richmond Ave.

Harold’s in the Heights
The popular bar and restaurant will open its downstairs tap room as early as 7 am for matches airing Tuesday through Sunday. In addition, it will offer a range of drink and food specials including happy hour pricing on beer during all matches, $5 Lunazel tequila and Benchmark whiskey, $7 pours of top shelf products including Elijah Craig bourbon, Larceny whiskey, Roxor gin, and Nine Banded whiskey, as well as $5 frozens made with Deep Eddy products. Daily specials (such as $4 Saint Arnold drafts and cans on Wednesday and Saturdays), food specials tied to different countries (such as fish and chips for the June 24 match between England and Panama), and swag giveaways all help make Harold’s a compelling destination for Heights-area soccer fans. 350 W. 19th St.

The Phoenix on Westheimer
The Montrose-area sports bar will be open for all matches with TVs both inside and out. See the full schedule on Facebook1915 Westheimer Rd.

Revelry on Richmond
The popular Montrose sports bar will feature World Cup matches on its 30 TVs. For select matches such as Germany versus Mexico, Revelry will open at 10 am; on those days, it will start happy hour with $5 select drinks and $6 select appetizers. To kick off the festivities, the bar will host a Playstation 4 FIFA tournament on Wednesday night with prizes to the top three players. 1613 Richmond Ave.

The Branch
Spring Branch's favorite craft beer spot is opening early for select matches, starting with 9 am on Thursday, June 14 for Russia versus Saudi Arabia; 1 pm on Friday, June 15 for Portugal versus Spain; 8 am on Saturday, June 16 for Argentina versus Iceland; and 10 am on Sunday, June 17 for Germany versus Mexico. See the complete schedule on Facebook. Also, co-owner Kyle Pierson notes that he'll open for any of the other matches if a group is interested in hosting watch parties there. Contact The Branch for details. 7710 Long Point Rd.

El Big Bad
The downtown Mexican restaurant and tequila bar will open early for select World Cup matches, starting with 10 am on Friday, June 15 and Sunday, June 17 and 1 pm June 18 through 21; see Facebook for the complete schedule. Those wearing gear from their favorite national teams — even the U.S.A. — may purchase house margaritas for only $5. 419 Travis Street

Latin Bites
The acclaimed Peruvian restaurant will be showing most of the matches and will open early on weekends or for matches where Peru is competing. Happy hour specials, including $6 wells, $5 glasses of wine, $3 beers, and half-off appetizers, are available from 2:30 to 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday. See website for complete schedule. 5709 Woodway Dr.

Nick’s Place
The West Houston institution will open at 7 am Friday through Sunday for World Cup matches. During the week, Nick’s opens at 11 am. By reputation, the calzones are to die for. 2713 Rockyridge Dr.

Eight Row Flint
Agricole Hospitality’s bar devoted to whiskey, beer, and tacos will open at 1 pm (one hour early) to show matches that kick off at that time. Happy hour specials include $3 tacos, $3 select beers, and $3 select house cocktails. 1039 Yale St.

Pluckers Wing Bar
The wing joint will open early for Mexico’s matches — 9:45 am on June 17 and 23 and 8:45 am on June 27 — with $1 off its 34-ounce drafts of Dos Equis. In addition, Pluckers Club members can compete for the opportunity to win $2,500 by correctly picking the tournament’s final four teams. Four Houston-area locations; see website for details.

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Tucker teams with Topps! Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images.

Juan Soto has been on baseball cards with Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts.

But this one, well, this one was a little different for Soto. This one had the New York Yankees slugger and Puerto Rican musician Daddy Yankee.

“It surprised me. It really struck me when they told me. ... It came over to my house, and I saw myself with Daddy Yankee,” Soto said. “It was just great. I mean, the Big Boss! It’s just great.”

The Soto-Daddy Yankee collaboration is one of two “Signature Tunes” cards that are part of the latest edition of Topps Series 2 as the famed card company shines a light on players and the artists behind their walk-up music.

Houston Astros slugger Kyle Tucker and rap superstar Travis Scott are on the other “Signature Tunes” card. Scott is from Houston, and he gave the Astros pairs of his Air Jordan 1 Low Olive shoes last year.

There are 25 autographed versions of each duo in Series 2, which was released on Wednesday.

“You don’t see too many of those, you see them typically with another player or something like that,” Tucker said. "But to be on a card or baseball card with someone that kind of has a further reach outside of baseball is, I think, pretty cool.”

Daddy Yankee and Myke Towers — another Puerto Rican musician — also are included in the set's “ First Pitch ” insert cards, highlighting the ubiquitous pregame ritual.

Clay Luraschi, the head of product development for Topps, said music, particularly walk-up, and for pitchers, warmup music, has become an important part of the game.

“What we really do is, we think about, OK, the core of it for Series 2 or Series 1, our flagship, it's baseball," he said, "but what are the other things that are like surrounding the game that fans are also interested in? And that’s where we come up with these other ideas that we feel like, you know, fit into the world of the game.”

Tucker was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday with a bruised right shin. But he has been using Rich Homie Quan's “Walk Thru” as his walk-up song before his plate appearances. He has used Scott's “Escape Plan” in the past.

“Walk Thru” had been Michael Brantley's walk-up tune before he retired in January after finishing his career with the Astros.

“It was kind of somewhat of a tribute to Mike’s career and stuff. And I just kind of kept it going,” Tucker said. “Really the first game I got a couple of hits when I used it, so I just kept rolling with it and it’s done pretty well for me.”

The 27-year-old Tucker, who is among the major league leaders with 19 homers, said he likes Houston reliever Ryan Pressly using Johnny Cash's “God's Gonna Cut You Down” as his warmup music. Growing up in Tampa, Florida, he also remembers Tantric's “Down and Out” as the walk-up song for former Rays infielder Evan Longoria.

“That kind of always stuck with me,” Tucker said.

Soto, 25, has used Daddy Yankee's “HOT” as his walk-up music in the past. He was traded from San Diego to New York in December, and he went with Jay-Z's “Empire State of Mind” for his home debut with the Yankees.

“For me, it’s gotta be something that gets you hyped, it gets you really thinking about what you’re gonna do," Soto said. “Something that, you want the fans to get crazy but you want yourself to get crazy, too.”

Soto has been using “Estamos Arriba” by Bad Bunny and Towers, a song he said he got from Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Willy Adames.

Asked for one of his favorite combinations involving another player, Soto pointed to Charlie Blackmon with the Colorado Rockies. Blackmon uses “Your Love” by The Outfield.

“I don’t know the name of the song, but I know it’s just like, I just know it says that, ‘I just wanna (use) your love tonight,’ and whenever they say love they just turn it off and the whole crowd goes, ‘To-night!’” Soto said. ”It was so good. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is great.’ I think that’s the only guy who can have that walk-up song."

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