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Your Goal: Watch the World Cup at Welcoming Pubs

June 20, 2002|JUSTIN CHANG and ROBIN RAUZI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When the U.S. played Mexico in the World Cup last Sunday, Lucky Baldwin's was packed, quite literally, to the rafters.

In the loft above the kitchen, where one TV was tuned to the match, heads of standing patrons nearly scraped the ceiling. The overflow crowd was perched on the stairs, trying to find a view between beer-sipping heads. The narrow room that holds the bar was so full of sweaty bodies that you'd have thought the people in there were playing soccer, not just watching it on TV.

Down the street at Hooters, which had been packed the week before for the NBA Finals, they were putting the chairs up on the tables for the night. A bad rock band was screaming in Moose McGillicuddy's. World Cup fever had made Lucky Baldwin's the most happening spot for blocks in Old Town Pasadena.

Although there are several places in and around L.A. to watch World Cup soccer with like-minded fans, this little Irish pub may be one of the few where you can watch all of the games. Live.

That's no small thing, because the matches are happening in South Korea and Japan, which are 17 time zones away. The first matches of a day start at 11:30 p.m. PST and last through the night.

"I've been open until 7 a.m. every day since it started," says Lucky Baldwin's manager, Andreas Teti. The biggest crowds come for the 11:30 p.m. games, but the pub drew about 100 people for the England-Argentina grudge match at 4:30 a.m. last week.

The U.S. team, which hasn't progressed this far in the World Cup tournament since 1930, takes on three-time world champ Germany at 4:30 a.m. Friday. Other matches to catch this weekend: historical favorite Brazil against a fired-up England at 11:30 tonight. The surprising South Koreans come up against Spain Friday at 11:30 p.m. And Senegal, which dispatched 1994 world champion France in the first round, plays Turkey at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. Set your VCR or head out to some of these spots:

Barney's Beanery--Hoping to catch a replay? Barney's boasts eight satellites and at least 35 TVs, as well as an extra-large pull-down screen reserved for sporting events of particular import. Don't be surprised if a match coincides with a karaoke night--every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday--or, even better, a beer promotion. 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 654-2287.

Britannia Pub--The name should tell you something: If you were planning to cheer on your British ballers in a peaceful setting, stay far, far away. If, however, you were planning to watch, yell, kick and scream with an overflowing crowd and overflowing kegs in a pub where you can't throw a shot glass without hitting a TV, come on in. 318 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 458-5350.

The Cat and Fiddle--With its picturesque courtyard and outdoor dining, this English pub is a slightly more posh choice, as befits its Hollywood locale. But when an 11:30 p.m. match comes on the telly (three of them, including two big-screen TVs), it gets as comfortably rough-and-tumble as you'd hope for. Try the sausage rolls. 6530 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 468-3800.

Lucky Baldwin's--The good news: Watch the U.S.-Germany game live with your fellow fans Friday at 4:30 a.m. The bad: You can't have a German or an American beer during the match. The bar will be closed. So have a cappuccino or orange juice. And they'll be serving a special menu of bangers with eggs and British bacon. 17 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626)795-0652.

National Sports Grill & Bar--Sixty-seven TVs total, including three big screens, and during any World Cup match, about 50 of them (roughly 80%) will be spoken for. That doesn't mean that 80% of the crowd will necessarily be watching or that the bar will fill to its capacity of 450 people in this post-Lakers season, but it's a capital choice for viewers who prefer sport, and spirits, over spectacle. 3210 Sepulveda Blvd., Torrance, (310) 534-5700.

Scotland Yard--If rooting for the Yankees isn't your cup of tea (or mug of ale), join the Anglophiles expected to turn out in droves for tonight's much-anticipated England-Brazil match. Can't make it? Don't worry; this charming British pub takes soccer so seriously that it will open at 4 a.m. just for those pesky late-night matches. By all means, stop by, if you don't mind tea and sandwiches (the beer stops flowing at 2 a.m.). 22041 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, (818) 703-9523.

Shamrock Bar & Grill--No big-screen TVs, alas, but Orange County's soccer-loving Irish oasis still draws crowds of more than 100 people for the 11:30 p.m. matches. Guinness has made promotional appearances in the last few weeks, and another one is likely tonight. 2633 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, (949) 631-5633.

Red Lion Tavern--There would be no better place to watch the U.S.-Germany face-off ... but this Bavarian bar isn't staying open until 6:30 a.m. The crowds for earlier games vary depending on who's playing whom, but with an attractive two-story setup, including an upstairs patio with a big-screen TV, how can you not say "danke schon?" 2366 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 662-5337.

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