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Soccer fans gather to watch Mexico take on South Africa in the opening game of the 2010 World Cup at Mexican restaurant El Jacal in Toronto on Friday, June 11, 2010.

Adrien Veczan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Seeking camaraderie with the Cameroonians? Want to get sloppy with the Slovenians? Or rally with the Danish roligans? Whether you're a Francophile or Green Dragon fan, Globe T.O.'s comprehensive guide to eating, drinking and carousing will be an invaluable companion to your one-month pub crawl across the city.



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UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

CHILE Ukrainian Cultural Centre of Toronto 83 Christie St.

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National intel: The Casa Salvador Allende (a Canadian-Chilean cultural society based out of Toronto) organized a number of benefit events in the city as a result of the 2010 Chile earthquake. For the World Cup, however, it's all about soccer.

The pitch: Expecting a large crowd of Chileans to come cheer their team, the organization has rented out a large theatre room in the for the second and third Chile games.

The grub: Since both are morning games, the events will not likely be licensed, but will include a variety of edible Chilean treats such as empanadas.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE Teranga 159 Augusta Ave. (416) 849-9777

National intel: Star Didier Drogba broke his arm about a week before the World Cup began and is unlikely to play. But this is an important year for the Côte D'Ivoire. With the World Cup located in Africa for the first time, there will be increased pressure on African nations to compete at a high level, and many soccer pundits are picking this underdog team to make a big splash in the tournament in the country's 50th year of independence from French colonial rule. If the team goes far, many French and African nations may end up backing them.

The pitch: Although there are no official Ivorian bars or restaurants for the city's 3,000-odd expats, there is an official screening party at this Senegalese Kensington Market bar. For the faithful who might want to cheer on these African upstarts, go to Exotic-Canada (51 Dundas St. W., second floor, Mississauga) to buy traditional delicacies and soccer paraphernalia.

The grub: Traditional Ivorian dishes such as attiéké (grated cassava) and aloko (fried plantain).

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ENGLAND The Duke of Gloucester 649 Yonge St. (416) 961-9704

National intel: With David Beckham's Achilles tendon in disrepair, Brits will make a mantra of the name Wayne Rooney, whose skills are perhaps matched by his most recent accolade: Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year.

The pitch: Built in Britain and shipped over piece by piece, the pub is a haven for the city's soccer-obsessed, particularly during the World Cup. Indeed, manager Mihir Shah expects such a large turnout during England's games that he is selling tickets in advance ($10). "When England played Nigeria [in the last World Cup] we had 139 English fans and three Nigerian fans," he says, laughing. "But everyone got along really well." The pub will open every day at 7 a.m. during the tournament, and for $20, those inclined to make a wager can enter a football pool, though Mr. Shah is quick to clarify that one of the pub's regulars is running it independently.

The grub: Let's talk about beer first, because in these circumstances, everything else is secondary. Pub will augment its regular offering of English brew on tap with beer from every country in the world group.

ENGLAND The Queen and Beaver Public House 35 Elm St. (647) 347-2712

National intel: With David Beckham's Achilles tendon in disrepair, Brits will make a mantra of the name Wayne Rooney, whose skills are perhaps matched by his most recent accolade: Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year.

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The pitch: In a little more than a year it has established itself as one of the city's premier venues to watch international soccer. "We had 100 people packed in here during the Champions League," says owner Jamieson Kerr, whose resto will be open every day at 7 a.m. and aims to air every game.

The grub: Menu offers breakfast fare such as confit of rabbit and foie gras butter and even more elaborate entrees such as venison cobbler with sage and cheddar scones.

HONDURAS Plaza Flamingo 423 College St. (416) 603-8884

National intel: Since there is a relatively limited Honduran population in Toronto, there are few bars dedicated to Honduran soccer. That's not to say there won't be anywhere to watch it. Latin Americans tend to believe in solidarity (except Mexicans and Guatemalans, and Venezuelans and Guyanese, then there's Argentina and... oh, everyone else, and - oh, never mind). Still, though, they'll put aside their differences for soccer. Head towards the increasingly Latinized neighbourhood on St. Clair west of Bathurst.

The pitch: A popular spot for third-party event rentals due to its large space, big screens, and excellent sound-system, the place is owned by Ecuadorians. Clientele ranges from Argentinean to Chilean to Honduran. The restaurant claims to be cheering "first for world peace, then for any Spanish-speaking nation," and Honduras is certainly no exception.

The grub: Tapas such as garlic shrimp and calamari.

ITALY Café Diplomatico 594 College St. (647) 258-9427

National intel: For the real Italian action, head to Woodbridge. Or more specifically, Wegz Stadium Bar, where the massive Italian community north of College Street will congregate. (Also see "Neutral Ground," below.) Downtown, there'll be a strong Italian contingent: Wear your team colours and talk about how the Azzurri tend to confound World Cup expectations. Don't talk about them getting thrashed by the Koreans in 1996 and 2002, or the match-rigging scandals in 1982 and 2006. Do talk about how the team is made up of veterans, and how they have a strong "system of play."

The pitch: Around the Dip, the entire area will be draped in red, white and green flags, and owner Rocco Mastrangelo promises everyone will have a great view. He's carting out eight TVs onto the patio, and, for the closing party on July 11, closing down the street. Italians will feel at home here, but really, The Dip, as locals call it, will be a meeting ground for soccer fans of all stripes. "We are where nations unite to watch the game," says Signor Mastrangelo.

The grub: Very delicious, gooey pizza; pasta standbys.

NEUTRAL GROUND Hemingway's 142 Cumberland St. (416) 968-2828

Usually a spot for people-watching, offers a place to watch soccer in Yorkville, which, let's face it, is not often considered a World Cup hot spot. The owners are from New Zealand, but the bar has no official allegiance. Even so, Orange Alert! In the last World Cup, a number of Netherlands supporters adopted the bar as home base. The bar is choosing to keep a neutral position, so it's unclear whether the Dutch will flock back this year.

SOUTH KOREA Koko! Share Bar 81 Yorkville Ave. (416) 850-6135

National intel: Many spots in Koreatown will not be open for the early games, but you'll see a lot of red bandanas. Don't be alarmed. This is not out of solidarity with the ship-sinking neo-Stalinists to the north, but in support of their southern neighbour.

The pitch: Critics' darling has installed two 50-inch high-definition flat-screen TVs for this year's World Cup. But they won't be open for South Korea's early-morning games.

The grub: The Korean-Japanese fusion restaurant will offer a special World Cup menu (grilled beef short ribs, PEI mussels, sushi) and cocktail list (the Koko! Caesar contains cucumber, tomato, ginger and dill-infused soju with tomato juice).

SOUTH KOREA Fox and Fiddle 27 Wellesley St. (416) 944-9369

National intel: Many spots in Koreatown will not be open for the early games, but you'll see a lot of red bandanas. Don't be alarmed. This is not out of solidarity with the ship-sinking neo-Stalinists to the north, but in support of their southern neighbour.

The pitch: Pub with large Korean customer base offers morning games, which can be seen on its 100-inch screen on its outdoor patio. Known for its raucous karaoke nights, says Terry Tsianos, the chief executive of owner Pegasus Group, the pub - like many of the chain's 19 Toronto-area locations - will be showing all the games.

The grub: Pub style

SWITZERLAND The Foxes Den 1075 Bay St. (416) 961-1975

National intel: There is no specific Swiss neighbourhood and very few Swiss bars or restaurants. Although Switzerland has its own Chamber of Commerce, Cultural Association and Swiss Club, there is no physical clubhouse. At times like these, don't you miss Movenpick?

The pitch: Organized by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Toronto, the bar will welcome Swiss fans for the country's three first-round games.

The grub: Morning games will be accompanied by a full breakfast buffet (and 10:00 a.m. cocktails), while afternoon games will offer the bar's regular à la carte menu. The event, which will be put on in conjunction with the consulates of Spain and Honduras, will be decorated with the flags of each country and will give out prizes to the best patriotic costumes, so be prepared for a colourful affair or some very dissonant intercultural vibes.

ST. CLAIR WEST

HONDURAS Motivos Latin Bar and Grill 1042 St. Clair Ave. W. (416) 652-3855

National intel: Since there is a relatively limited Honduran population in Toronto, there are few bars dedicated to Honduran soccer. That's not to say there won't be anywhere to watch it. Latin Americans tend to believe in solidarity (except Mexicans and Guatemalans, and Venezuelans and Guyanese, then there's Argentina and... oh, everyone else, and - oh, never mind). Still, though, they'll put aside their differences for soccer. Head towards the increasingly Latinized neighbourhood on St. Clair west of Bathurst.

The pitch: In an area teeming with Ecuadorians, El Salvadorians and Brazilians, this lively spot will offer three big-screen TVs and will blast every World Cup game the restaurant/bar can get its hands on.

The grub: Pan-Latino, i.e. empanadas, fried plantain and cassava.

MEXICO El Rincon Mexicano 653 St. Clair Ave. W. (416) 656-1059

National intel: Though Mexico is playing in the opening match against South Africa, the odds aren't looking muy caliente. Mexico is 0-6 on opening day, and the host team has never lost.

The pitch: Well-reviewed, accessibly priced restaurant will offer brunch menu during the morning games.

The grub: Traditional fare (or haute frat-dude food) such as frijoles, tacos, and enchiladas.

PARAGUAY Latin Fiesta Sports Bar & Grill 1002 St. Clair Ave. W. (416) 651-8609

National intel: Be gentle when you enter a bar where hopeful fans gather. The only record Paraguay has ever set in the World Cup is when its coach, Cayetano Ré, got tossed from a game in 1986 for standing too close to the field. Best not to mention that. What they do have going for them, according to Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times, is a phenomenon known as garra guarani, translated as "Paraguayan guts." This is not the national dish, but a durable core that makes this team from a poor Latin American country a formidable force.

The pitch: A guaranteed good time is yours at Latin Fiesta, where the bar opens at 10 a.m. (what better time for a margarita?). The atmosphere is nothing to brag about: sparse decor, tile floors, not great lighting, but the combined good cheer of the crowd will make you forget.

The grub: Nachos, fajitas, chimichangas - all traditional fare - are good, the lime-soaked ceviche is fresh and inspired, and the flan is sweet perfection.

EAST END

AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND Scallywags Bar & Restaurant 11 St. Clair Ave. W. (416) 922-3737

National intel: The fearless Globe and Mail World Cup location scouts will probably have to go into hiding after lumping these two nations under the same heading. (Canada, U.S., why not?) But in this case, their inhabitants share similar accents and inferiority complexes, and have long nursed a bitter sporting rivalry, whether it be rugby, cricket, polo.

The pitch: Let's hope the owner of Scallywags knew what he was doing when he decided to host both the Australians and New Zealand games. Not just for South Africans, the bar has become a favourite with Australians and Kiwis because of a long tradition of showing rugby games there. Stuart Mulachy, a member of KEA, Kiwi Expats Abroad, will be at Scallywags with about 50 other new Zealanders. He plans to drink Keith's and partake in the Haka, a Maori war dance that fans do to get in the zone. He says he doesn't mind that most have classed New Zealand as the worst team in this years World Cup. "We're little," he says, referring to the small population of New Zealand, "but we may take you by surprise."

Grub: Usual pub fare, plus breakfast.

FRANCE Didier Restaurant 1496 Yonge St. (416) 925-8588

National intel: Lovely time for critics of Les Bleus. Fans resent them, politicians pillory them and the team itself has no confidence. And they must stoop to beat Uruguay in the opening.

The pitch: One of Toronto's most decorated chefs, Didier Leroy will be opening the casual front section so that supporters of his native France can watch the games on the restaurant's 40-inch flat-screen TV. "I thought it would be fun," says Mr. Leroy, a veteran of Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, when asked why he decided to transform his posh, classically French fine-dining establishment into a temporary sports bar. "This isn't just for French people. The World Cup is a good excuse for people from around the world to change, to come together."

The grub: Didier will offer its regular lunch menu (beet, orange, and goat's cheese salad; steak frites) and house-made desserts (profiteroles; soufflé Cote d'Azur) during France's opening games, and a more limited menu (omelettes, croques-monsieurs) for the morning games.

GERMANY The Blue Danube, home of the Danube Swabians 1686 Ellesmere Rd., Scarborough (416) 290-6186

National intel: The German team has been beset by tragedy. Here are some things not to mention when you attend the big game at Tony Baumann's World Cup party at the Blue Danube banquet hall: Robert Enke, the goalkeeper who committed suicide. His successor, Rene Adler, who was ruled out because of a rib injury. Simon Rolfes, a promising midfielder who was dropped because of a knee injury. Finally, the captain, Michael Ballack, who tore his ankle ligaments in the FA Cup final and won't be playing.

The pitch: Despite the gloom, Mr. Baumann says a crowd of about 200 is expected to show up and wave the flag. "We'll make it to the finals," he says. And if they don't? "We'll scream and shout," he says. "And then have another beer. That's the German way."

The grub: Schnitzel, strudel, and Hacker-Pschorr beer.

GREECE Monday, June 07, 2010 6:01 PM Kokkino Lounge 414 Danforth Ave. (416) 461-3562

National intel: Opa alert! You might want to think about avoiding the Danforth on game days. It'll be the jammed-up epicentre of the third-largest Hellenic community outside of Greece (after New York City and Melbourne).

The pitch: At midnight, this taverna makes a metamorphosis from restaurant to nightclub where patrons can dance until sunrise. For its country's early-morning opening game, owner Jannetos Boutsiarakos expects a group of die-hards might just stick around all night.

The grub: Less adventurous can join them the next morning for coffee, snacks, and breakfast panini. Kokkino's regular selection of traditional and contemporary Greek tapas will be available for the later guests.

GREECE Fox and Fiddle 535 Danforth Ave. (416) 462-9830

National intel: Opa alert! You might want to think about avoiding the Danforth on game days. It'll be the jammed-up epicentre of the third-largest Hellenic community outside of Greece (after New York City and Melbourne).

The pitch: Toronto's Hellas Fan Club, which calls itself "the only Greek National Team fan club in North America," plans to carry out its mission of "uniting all Greek fans in the Toronto area" at this improbable location.

The grub: $10 cover for the morning games, which includes breakfast (scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, toast, and coffee).

JAPAN Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre 6 Garamond Ct. (416) 441-2345

National intel: Makoto Unagami, a soccer player for the Japanese football team in Toronto, will be wearing blue and trying to cover his disappointment. " Our team is not as strong as it should be," he says. "Everyone remembers when we did well in 2002, but that was a long time ago! We need to win now. Otherwise, people will always wonder: Why is Japan in the Cup?" Many others have wondered this. Simon Barnes of the London Times once wrote: "The Japanese are not a footballing people," saying they don't enjoy the rough-and-tumble aspect of the game and their strong collective instincts mean individual players are not likely to make bold or inspiring moves.

The pitch: Japanese restaurants are typically quiet, serene places, with little water-fountain sounds and soft-spoken waiters. They are no place for blaring TVs and sports fans. So the JCCC planned its own event around the game on June 19. The game's early, so there's a sleepover option, minus tatami mats.

Grub: Breakfast of rice bowls, miso soup and green tea.

SOUTH AFRICA Scallywags 11 St. Clair Ave. W. (416)922-3737

National intel: The émigré population of the FIFA World Cup host country is largely concentrated in the Thornhill area.

Typical scene: Early many Saturday mornings, a spirited bunch of South Africans gather to watch their native country's most popular sport: rugby.

The pitch: Since it opened 13 years ago, the sports bar has developed a deserved reputation as one of the best venues in Toronto to watch international soccer. "It will be fun to watch guys who cheer against each other during English Premier League games suddenly cheering for the same team and drinking beer together," says manager Jeff May.

The grub: Usual pub fare, plus breakfast menu.

SOUTH AFRICA Owl and Firkin 7181 Woodbine Ave., Markham (905) 513-6611

National intel: The émigré population of the FIFA World Cup host country is largely concentrated in the Thornhill area.

The scene: Die-hard fan from nearby Thornhill

The pitch: The chief executive of the ubiquitous pub chain Firkin Group, Stanley Adelson, hails from South Africa.

The grub: Mr. Adelson says he'd be willing to bring in South African specialties, including boerewors (spicy beef sausage) and biltong (beef jerky) upon request, so loyalists, start lobbying.

DOWNTOWN - CENTRAL

CÔTE D'IVOIRE Teranga 159 Augusta Ave. (416) 849-9777

National intel: Star Didier Drogba broke his arm about a week before the World Cup began and is unlikely to play. But this is an important year for the Côte D'Ivoire. With the World Cup located in Africa for the first time, there will be increased pressure on African nations to compete at a high level, and many soccer pundits are picking this underdog team to make a big splash in the tournament in the country's 50th year of independence from French colonial rule. If the team goes far, many French and African nations may end up backing them.

The pitch: Although there are no official Ivorian bars or restaurants for the city's 3,000-odd expats, there is an official screening party at this Senegalese Kensington Market bar. For the faithful who might want to cheer on these African upstarts, go to Exotic-Canada (51 Dundas St. W., second floor, Mississauga) to buy traditional delicacies and soccer paraphernalia.

The grub: Traditional Ivorian dishes such as attiéké (grated cassava) and aloko (fried plantain).

MEXICO Milagro Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina 5 Mercer St. (416) 850-2855

National intel: Though Mexico is playing in the opening match against South Africa, the odds aren't looking muy caliente. Mexico is 0-6 on opening day, and the host team has never lost.

The pitch: Perhaps the best-known high-end destination in the city but no hay problem! Reservation requests began pouring in right after FIFA announced its schedule. Will be opening early for the team's 10 a.m. matches. "So many people came for the qualifying games," says co-owner Arturo Anhalt, who is from Mexico City. "It made me realize the Mexican community here is not so small."

The grub: Contemporary take on classic cuisine such as ceviche de pulpo (octopus, chipotle, onion, and tomatillo), and an appetizer called atun contramar (sliced rare tuna with avocado, cucumber, and lime vinaigrette).

NEUTRAL GROUND Hoops Sports Bar 735 Queen St. W. (416) 862-2400

An unlikely candidate, Hoops Sports Bar has moved into the troubled Queen and Bathurst location that last housed Vdara. Bucking the spot's trendier forebears, such as Habitat, it is now home to the unlikeliest-located sports-bar chain in the city. With 89 TVs, including a 126-inch "infinite" screen behind the bar, the joint will show as many games as feasible and will offer Queen West Europhiles a place to watch their favourite teams.

NEUTRAL GROUND The Football Factory 164 Bathurst St. (416) 368-4625

Their national home team is Team Canada, and since Canada did not qualify, you're in a soccer DMZ. Going all-out, the bar will open at 7:00 a.m. for each and every early game, feature regional food specials depending on who's playing, hold special raffles and contests, sell official Toronto FC and FIFA gear (some of which is autographed), and provide a safe haven for every partisan soccer fan without a home base. The bar always attracts big crowds around their HD TVs, so it should be a hotbed of fanaticism during the World Cup.

SLOVAKIA Prague Deli 638 Queen St. W. (416) 504-5787

National intel: It's a sign of how friendly relations are between the Czech Republic and Slovakia that the Prague Deli is hosting the game for Slovakian fans. Slovakia split from the Czech Republic in the 1993 Velvet Divorce - no bones were broken - and the two nations are friendly and supportive of each other. Well, that's not totally true. The Slovaks beat the Czechs in Prague last year and Richard Stilicha, an IT consultant from Bratislav, can't help but gloat a little. "We have always been the little brother of the Czech Republic. In this World Cup, we will stand on our own."

The pitch: Mr. Stilicha will be at the Prague Deli, drinking. "We are outsiders, I know that. The players have never played in a high-stakes game like this. But it is amazing to me that they have come so far. Everything they do will be a bonus."

The grub: Golden Pheasants and creamy haluski - a filling potato, cheese and bacon dish from the old country.

DOWNTOWN - WEST

BRAZIL Lula Lounge 1585 Dundas St. W. (416) 588-0307

National intel: Mark down June 25 at 7 p.m. on your calendar. This is when Brazil plays Portugal and the arteries of coolness - Dundas, College, Queen, Ossington - turn into flag-waving disaster zones. Portuguese and Brazilian soccer fans can get very intense, and since their community occupies the same neighbourhood (and often the same bars), it will be a busy area to say the least. Celebrations often fill street patios, and sometimes spill onto the street itself.

As Dundas West BIA board chair Sylvia Draper Fernandez puts it, "if either team gets a goal, let alone wins the game, the whole place will stop."

The pitch: This normally nocturnal world-music venue will be throwing open its doors during the daytime for a variety of games. Organized in part by Billy Bryans (formerly of Parachute Club), the event will serve as a lively celebration for a number of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, not least of which is Brazil.

The grub: During Brazil games, the venue will feature appropriate cuisine and signature caipirinha cocktails, accompanied between plays by choro, bossa nova, and other Brazilian music. You can also try Brazilian Star Bar and Grill (1242 Dundas St. W.), Novo Horizonte (1430 Dundas St. W.), O Campino (1434 Dundas St. W.).

DENMARK Brazen Head Irish Pub 165 East Liberty St. (416) 535-8787

National intel: Denmark is small (5.5 million), and the weather is gloomier than Rob Ford during city budget meetings. But here's the thing: They are, as a recent study shows, a happy lot - in fact, the happiest country of all. Peter Moerk, the head of the Danish consulate in Toronto, cheerfully identifies as a roligan, which is the always happy Danish football supporter - a peaceful hooligan, and a symbol of the Danes' laid-back, self-deprecating national character.

The pitch: Mr. Moerk says he'll be watching the game at Brazen Head, an Irish pub that is hosting Danish fans, who'll be drinking Carlsberg and singing "Red and white, we are Danish Dynamite."

The grub: The bar won't be serving traditional Danish fare, but he says if he had his way, he'd be eating traditional open-faced sandwiches with marinated herring and drinking akvavit.

ITALY Café Diplomatico 594 College St. (647) 258-9427

National intel: For the real Italian action, head to Woodbridge. Or more specifically, Wegz Stadium Bar, where the massive Italian community north of College Street will congregate. (Also see "Neutral Ground," below.) Downtown, there'll be a strong Italian contingent: Wear your team colours and talk about how the Azzurri tend to confound World Cup expectations. Don't talk about them getting thrashed by the Koreans in 1996 and 2002, or the match-rigging scandals in 1982 and 2006. Do talk about how the team is made up of veterans, and how they have a strong "system of play."

The pitch: Around the Dip, the entire area will be draped in red, white and green flags, and owner Rocco Mastrangelo promises everyone will have a great view. He's carting out eight TVs onto the patio, and, for the closing party on July 11, closing down the street. Italians will feel at home here, but really, The Dip, as locals call it, will be a meeting ground for soccer fans of all stripes. "We are where nations unite to watch the game," says Signor Mastrangelo.

The grub: Very delicious, gooey pizza; pasta standbys.

THE NETHERLANDS School Bakery and Café 70 Fraser Ave. (416) 588-0005

National intel: Over 200 Dutch soccer fans will gather at School Bakery to watch their beloved underachieving team play. David Vanderpoel, a marketing manager who organized the party at School, says he will be decidedly absent from his desk that day. He'll be dressed head-to-toe in orange, the Dutch team colour, and his golden-doodle will be wearing an orange jumper. "Think of us as an orange army," he says. The bright colours belie silent desperation. "We are always one of the favoured teams. We are always full of hope. And then there is grief when we lose in the semifinal. It's a wonderful, long, suffering experience."

The pitch: School Bakery owner Brad Moore will be on hand to keep an eye on his guests. "I'm going to try and make sure no one paints the building orange."

The grub: Poffertjes (tiny inflated pancakes) and kroket (fried mincemeat and gravy) and plenty of Grolsch and Heineken will likely ease the sorrow.

PORTUGAL Monday, June 07, 2010 6:20 PM

National intel: If you're a Portuguese or Brazilian soccer fan, you'll want to plant yourself firmly in the Dundas West nabe for the duration of the World Cup. If you're just trying to get around the city, you'll want to stay the hell away. Some of the most nationalistic soccer fans in the city, Toronto's Portuguese community can get a bit crazy during major international soccer events, so take heed.

The pitch: Between Ossington and Dufferin, Dundas West is a haven of small Portuguese sports bars and cafés. None are going to win any design awards, but to get an authentic taste of Portuguese fandom, these are the places to seek out. They can be tough to differentiate, but places like Kingsview Sports Bar (1675 Dundas St. W.) and Cervejaria Downtown Bar-Grill (842 College St.) will be filled to the brim with enthusiastic pint-sipping Portugal supporters.

The grub: Sagres beer. Oh, and some Sagres beer. But if you need solids and can't miss a moment of that big game, Brazil Bakery (1566 Dundas St. W.) and countless others will be accompanying the game with traditional pasteles de nata (custard tarts), pastries and coffee.

NORTH END

ARGENTINA Monday, June 07, 2010 6:00 PM Sky Ranch 2473 Dufferin St. (416) 787-0491

National intel: It has almost been a quarter-century since this rusty soccer empire won a championship, when Diego Maradona, now the coach, was leading the team. But this year the squad boasts 2009's FIFA World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi.

The pitch: One of Toronto's few Argentine restaurants, it will be a popular spot for the city's soccer-obsessed Argentine community. Owner and chef Favio Barenbaum will be showing all the games, not just those of his native country (he hails from Buenos Aires).

The grub: Renowned for its parrillada, a carnivorous carnival of grilled meats (beef ribs, brisket, chicken, sausage, blood sausage and sweet breads), the Ranch also offers hearts-of-palm salad with salsa golf, flank steak stuffed with egg, and flan made with the country's signature dessert, dulce de leche (caramel cream).

CHILE La Rosa Chilena 760 Wilson Ave. (416) 635-1837

National intel: The Casa Salvador Allende (a Canadian-Chilean cultural society based out of Toronto) organized a number of benefit events in the city as a result of the 2010 Chile earthquake. For the World Cup, however, it's all about soccer.

Pitch: The sizeable Chilean community in North York will flock to this bakery.

The grub: Great place to enjoy inexpensive Chilean wine and cuisine.

GHANA The Points Restaurant 2111 Jane St. Unit 7. (416)551-5447

National Intel: Ghanaians take their soccer seriously. Michael Essien, the dynamic midfielder that was Ghana's best and brightest hope for a World Cup win, said he was "prepared to die" for victory. Essien won't be playing at the cup due to injury and his absence has been a source of anxiety for Ghanaian fans in Africa, and here, in Toronto. Kwami Osuwu, the VP consul at the Ghanaian consulate in Toronto, predicts good things for the team this cup, with or without Essien. "It is not that I hope we do well, I know we will do well," he says. "I have faith. That is stronger than hope." And if they lose? "I have seen men collapse on the ground, weep, forego food for days," he says. "But I am a man. I will be strong."

The pitch: For a no-nonsense celebration, The Point, an authentic Ghanaian restaurant at Jane and Wilson (located at the site of the former Mama Pee's), is the hang.

The grub: Traditional fare like fufu (pounded cassava), palm-nut soup and kelewele (spicy plantain chips).

JAPAN Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre 6 Garamond Ct. (416) 441-2345

National intel: Makoto Unagami, a soccer player for the Japanese football team in Toronto, will be wearing blue and trying to cover his disappointment. " Our team is not as strong as it should be," he says. "Everyone remembers when we did well in 2002, but that was a long time ago! We need to win now. Otherwise, people will always wonder: Why is Japan in the Cup?" Many others have wondered this. Simon Barnes of the London Times once wrote: "The Japanese are not a footballing people," saying they don't enjoy the rough-and-tumble aspect of the game and their strong collective instincts mean individual players are not likely to make bold or inspiring moves.

The pitch: Japanese restaurants are typically quiet, serene places, with little water-fountain sounds and soft-spoken waiters. They are no place for blaring TVs and sports fans. So the JCCC planned its own event around the game on June 19. The game's early, so there's a sleepover option, minus tatami mats.

Grub: Breakfast of rice bowls, miso soup and green tea.

NEUTRAL GROUND (OFF MAP) Wegz Stadium Bar 2601 Rutherford Rd., Vaughan (905) 303-9349

A sports fan's fantasy with a reputation for institutional food. The palatial Woodbridge establishment boasts more than 90 TVs, including 10 enormous high-definition projection screens in the main room, and another theatre screen in a private area known as the "Locker Room." Manager Justin Gladman expects Wegz (owned by Woodbine Sports and Entertainment) to be filled to capacity for many of the games, especially those involving Italy. "During the Euro Cup, we had 700 people in the building," he says. "It's like nothing you've ever seen before." Italian fans can even watch the feed in their native tongue, in a separate area of the restaurant known as the "Coach's Corner." The bar is offering a variety of prize giveaways during the tournament, culminating in an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Italy, which includes two tickets to an Italian-league soccer game. In lieu of a breakfast menu, Wegz will be offering breakfast specials during morning games (they will be open at 10 a.m.), including omelettes and eggs Benedict.

NIGERIA

The pitch: At Northwood Park (Sheppard west of Keele) on Saturday morning, you may be surprised to encounter a large group clustered around an outdoor screen. Clad in the green-and-white colours of the Nigerian flag, folks of all ages will come to this public park in the Black Creek Valley to watch a live satellite feed of their home country in its opening World Cup match against Argentina. The game will be followed by a full day of festivities and games, and, naturally, a soccer tournament - with a trophy presented to the winning squad. "This is the first time we are doing this," says Franklin Omoruna, the president of Toronto's Nigerian Canadian Association (NCA), which is organizing the event. "It's a way for Nigerians across the city to come together, eat our traditional foods and watch the game."

The grub: Nigerian specialties, including moimoi (steamed bean cake), dodo (fried plaintains), and puff-puff (round doughnuts). "Instead of watching alone, or in small groups," says the NCA's Nsa Archibong, who helped organize the event, "this is an opportunity for us to celebrate together as a community."

URUGUAY Club Uruguay 101 Freshway Dr., Concord (905) 660-2467

National intel: Situated between perennial soccer powerhouses Argentina and Brazil, the small South American nation somehow managed to win two World Cups in 1930, 1950.

The pitch: Occupying a nondescript commercial unit near Highways 400 and 407, the social club has been a popular gathering place for Uruguayans in Toronto for more than 40 years. The club's roster of 400 members gathers most weekends for movie nights, dances, televised soccer games and asado - traditional Uruguayan barbeque. "It's a place where we can keep our traditions alive," says president Nelson Paesch, who expects between 70 and 200 people for Uruguay's World Cup games. Admission for the World Cup games is free, the club's food is inexpensive, and non-members are welcome.

The grub: Those who attend will feast on grilled beef, salads, and milanesa - the breaded veal sandwich introduced to Uruguay by European settlers.

WEST END

CAMEROON Chez La Belle Africaine 1239 Weston Rd. (416) 543-4378

National intel: "Everywhere I go, when I tell people I am from Cameroon, they think I am talking about a soccer team," says Pascal Dissock, laughing. "They forget Cameroon is a country, not just a team." He doesn't mind. Still, Sports Illustrated called the team - not the nation - "a paragon of Third World mobility."

The pitch: Mr. Dissock, president of the GTA's Cameroonian association, says he thinks the Cameroonian team will take strength from playing in an African nation and surpass all expectations. There is no "everyone will do a boffo job" for Mr. Dissock. "We are the lions," he says. "There is a law to the forest. No one dominates a lion. We will dominate."

The grub: Traditional waterfufu and eru - and Heineken (not so African).

SPAIN Club Hispano 3465 Dundas St. W. (416) 760-7210

National intel: There will likely be many Spanish flags out on cars in Toronto this year, but that might say more about the strength of the team than the Spanish community. According to the Consulate General of Spain, there are fewer than 20,000 Spaniards in Canada, let alone Toronto. But if Spain advances far in the tournament, as many are expecting they will, soccer fans from Spanish-speaking countries are liable to jump on the bandwagon.

The pitch: A more official kind of fiesta hosted by a not-for-profit community centre dedicated to the preservation of Spanish culture. For the World Cup, they'll be breaking out the big-screen TVs.

The grub: No idea yet.

SERBIA Zam Restaurant & Bar 1340 The Queensway, Etobicoke. (416) 252-1050

National intel: Expect extraordinary displays of emotion and newly minted patriotism, says Jovan Filipovic, vice-president of the Serbian Youth League. It's the first time Serbia has ever played as its own team, under its own name (not Yugoslavia, not Montenegro, just straight-up Serbia). "It's huge for us," he says.

A younger, hipper crowd will gather at this west-end nightclub. "There will be no sitting down," says Mr. Filipovic. "Everyone will be on their feet."

SERBIA The Serbian Centre 2520 Dixie Rd., Mississauga

National intel: Expect extraordinary displays of emotion and newly minted patriotism, says Jovan Filipovic, vice-president of the Serbian Youth League. It's the first time Serbia has ever played as its own team, under its own name (not Yugoslavia, not Montenegro, just straight-up Serbia). "It's huge for us," he says.

The pitch: Families with kids and grandparents in tow will watch the games at the Serbian church at a community centre in Mississauga.

The grub: In a big room with a linoleum floor and card tables heaving with Serbian classic fare such as cevapi (small sausages), sweet crepes with Nutella and walnuts, and strong Serbian beer like Jelen.

SLOVENIA Slovenian Centre 739 Browns Line

The pitch and the grub: In the words of Slovenian community organizer Robert Frankovic: "For all you sports enthusiasts out there who are searching for a place to come and support the Slovenian national soccer team during this year's World Cup, look no further. On Sunday, June 13, at 7:30 EST, Slovenia will play Algeria in their first game of the World Cup. The game will be shown on a large screen in the church hall... Arrive early to reserve your seats. Refreshments and snacks will also be offered. So feel free to come and celebrate with other Slovenia supporters and don't forget to bring your flags, jerseys, and other paraphernalia. Gremo Slovenija!"

National intel: Not to be confused with Slovakia or Serbia, this former Yugoslav nation is known for its alpine athletes and ontological, post-Lacanian pop-philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Toronto's Slovenian community dates back to the 1920s but they can still muster up love for their team, the feisty Green Dragons, who beat Russia to make it to the World Cup this year.

SPAIN Casa Barcelona 2980 Bloor St. W. (416) 234-5858

National intel: There will likely be many Spanish flags out on cars in Toronto this year, but that might say more about the strength of the team than the Spanish community. According to the Consulate General of Spain, there are fewer than 20,000 Spaniards in Canada, let alone Toronto. But if Spain advances far in the tournament, as many are expecting they will, soccer fans from Spanish-speaking countries are liable to jump on the bandwagon.

The pitch: Anyone looking to watch soccer in a four-star restaurant can venture to the west end but should be prepared to pay well for the experience.

The grub: Charging $150 per couple, the well-regarded Spanish restaurant offers a pitcher of sangria and two daily tapas to go along with the game. Be forewarned: The place fits only about 14 people at a time and tables must be reserved well in advance.

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