Are you a soccer lover in search of a good soccer bar? Although they aren’t exactly plentiful in Las Vegas, don’t worry! Fanatical fans wanting to cheer on their favorite teams in the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, better known as Euro 2012, won’t have to look hard to locate a viewing party. The easiest thing to do is to track down an authentic British or Irish pub, where the staff is always happy to broadcast the big matches.
“We show all the games, but the English ones are when we’ve been packed,” said Mark McGarry, one of the owners of the Queen Victoria Pub at the Riviera. McGarry and his partners, Nick Jones and Eddie Carroll, all hail from England. “We are actually the only pub in Vegas that is British owned and operated.”
The Euro tournament is played once every four years and brings together the 16 top teams in Europe for three weeks of top-notch soccer – or rather “football,” as it’s more widely called outside the U.S. Because all of the teams are such strong competitors, the Euro games are hugely popular and almost as beloved as the World Cup.
With the group stage and quarterfinals over now, only four teams remain: Portugal, Germany, Spain and Italy, which advanced with a 4-2 win yesterday over England in a heartbreaker – after the scoreless game went into overtime and then to a penalty shootout.
Even through McGarry and his staff will mourn the loss, fans can still look forward to friendly banter with rivals and rooting on the remaining teams amid a large crowd – all with a pint glass in hand. The Queen Victoria Pub boasts 24 draft beers and more than 40 bottled beers from around the world.
“The good thing about our place is it’s a big rectangular room,” said McGarry of the fun and camaraderie engendered there. In addition to a 12-foot HDTV, the pub has eight other large high-definition screens for your viewing pleasure. “It’s just a great place to watch the games.”
The semifinals and finals air late in the morning in Las Vegas. Portugal will face Spain at 11:45 a.m. on June 27 at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine. Germany will meet Italy at 11:45 a.m. on June 28 at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. The winners will vie for the Henri Delaunay Cup on July 1 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, with a closing ceremony held at 11 a.m. and the game played at 11:45 a.m.
While you bask in national pride and share the experience with other excited fans, you’ll be able to indulge in authentic British cuisine. McGarry trained and worked as a chef in Coventry. Jones was a butcher in London. They make all the sausages and cure the bacon served at the pub.
“My recipes are authentic. Our bacon comes from pork loin and takes about a week to cure. That’s where it gets the salty, smoky flavors. I absolutely love it,” said McGarry. From the extensive menu, one of many items he recommends is Toad in the Hole, which is Yorkshire pudding with sausages baked in a beer and onion gravy. “Toad in the Hole is one of our favorites because it’s something you won’t get anywhere else in Las Vegas. It looks like a big baseball mitt with bangers.”
Even when the Euro is not in full swing, there are plenty of things to entertain you at the Queen Victoria Pub. Along with a dart room, McGarry and his partners, who are avid fans of The Beatles, have re-created the stage at The Cavern Club. Found in Liverpool, the original is where the legendary band was discovered.
“It’s identical. It takes my breath away every time I look at it,” raved McGarry, who is also thrilled to have a Beatles tribute band appearing at the pub on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. – midnight. “Everybody raves about them, and it’s one of the only truly free shows in Vegas.”
The Queen Victoria Pub is open 24 hours a day. Food is available from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Plus, residents receive 10 percent off their bill whenever they come in, just by showing their local ID.
Of course, there are numerous international bars and pubs in Las Vegas that will be screening the Euro games. Here are five other great spots to view the action:
• Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas – This faithful reproduction of the centuries-old beer hall in Munich is situated a few blocks east of the Strip, across from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. With Germany in the semifinals – and very likely to go all the way to the finals – you may want to fill your beer stein here, as well as tuck into the city’s best pretzels and bratwurst while watching the Euro action.
• J.C. Wooloughan’s Irish Pub – Located at the JW Marriott Las Vegas in Summerlin, this rollicking pub is treating fans to a selection of $2 draft beers during all the Euro tournament matches.
• McMullan’s Irish Pub – Situated several blocks west of the Strip on Tropicana Avenue, this terrific old-style Irish pub is always a good bet when it comes to sports. You can view the fast-paced Euro play on one of the 12 screens in the main bar, while enjoying seasonal fare and a daily draft priced at $4 for a 20-ounce pint.
• Rí Rá – Located in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, this unique Irish pub is constructed from rescued and meticulously restored artifacts shipped over from Ireland. The Euro games will be shown on both of Rí Rá’s big screens and on all four plasma TVs above the main bar. The broadcasts are sure to be raucous – as a 500-pound statue of St. Patrick will be presiding over the fun.
• Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub – Found in a shopping center in Henderson, this pub opened by Scottish-born and European-trained chef Ian Fulton proudly declares: “Soccer is our passion.” Big screens will show all the Euro games live. Plenty of fun, authentic food and beer will be on tap throughout the competition.