The hardest thing about watching the World Cup this year won’t be that the U.S. didn’t make the cut. No, the hardest thing will be deciding on the perfect place to drink at 8 am during the early matches. Once you’ve decided that, then you gotta figure out how many times you can use the, “great-aunt Dahlia is in the hospital with whooping cough,” excuse to get out of work and catch the game, before someone fires your ass.
Heres our 2018 list of bars to watch the World Cup:
The Olde Ship
To clarify, the Olde Ship has two locations–one at 709 N. Harbor in Fullerton, and one in Santa Ana. But, our extensive research shows that the Santa Ana location will be the prime spot to catch the World Cup. Irish coffees and pots of English tea will greet you at the front door of this British pub. Then, you can eat yourself sober with a, “Great English breakfast,” of bangers, fried bread, two fried eggs, British bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, and baked beans. *side note, the Olde Ship’s Old Speckled Hen won the OC Weekly’s drink of the week back in 2013. 1120 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-6700.
Long time weekly readers will remember Gustavo’s praise of C4 Deli in our last World Cup coverage . This year, C4 is back and will be screening the Mexico v. Korea game at 8am this Saturday, as well as the Mexico v. Sweden game next Wednesday at 7am. Make sure you remember to try one of the fresh baked cookies after you finish your porchetta sandwich. C4 has also graced the Weekly’s pages multiple times for their exquisite sandwiches  and ales.  200 N Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 263-1555.
If you’ve been cheering for Mexico this year (like you better be!), then the Old World  might not be the place for you. Chances are some people in this German style pub will still be butt-hurt at the 1-0 ass-whooping Mexico handed Germany last week. But, I may be exaggerating. Either way, Old World will open at 8am for the Mexico v. Korea match this Saturday, and will screen the Germany v. Sweden after. They’ll also be serving breakfast at 6:30am for the Germany match on Wednesday the 27th, just call ahead and reserve a spot. 7561 Center Ave #49, Huntington Beach, (714) 895-8020.
If you go to the Harp Inn’s website, the first thing you’ll see is FIFA World Cup. Yes, the Harp Inn will be open for every match this year, and they offer a complete listing of what matches they’ll be screening on their website. The best move at the Harp Inn is to order the bottomless mimosa right out the gate, then to steady yourself with a, “Mini Irish breakfast.” 130 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, (949) 646-8855.
Rumor has it that the Auld Dubliner will be airing all 64 matches of the World Cup this year. Also, if you bring a soccer ball and kick it into a giant cup outside their store, then you’ll receive a coupon for a $5 beer.  But, if you decide that you’d rather just pay $8 for a beer and keep the ball to practice your dribbling skills, I’m sure the Auld Dubliner won’t mind. Practice makes perfect, and one day you’ll definitely be out there on the pitch with Ronaldo and Messi. 2497 Park Ave, Tustin, (714) 259-1562 and 71 Pine Ave, Long Beach, (562) 437-8300.
Mulleady’s in MV
Mulleady’s will always have a special place in my heart because when I was in high school we used to skip second period English to go get a plate of Mulleady’s pub fries. Though Mulleady’s is out of the way for 90% of O.C., if you happen to live in the boondocks like me, then this is your spot. 27695 Santa Margarita Parkway, Mission Viejo, (949) 380-3752.
Another all-time Gustavo recommendation, Lola Gaspar will be cooking $5 homemade churros all this month for the World Cup. Lola Gaspar serves sangria by the liter for you metric system fans, and can serve as a homebase for people who want to see Spain run the table in Group B this year. Also, for you cocktail fans, the Lobo Del Mar was named an OC Weekly Drink of the Week  by our editor, Cynthia, last month. 211 W 2nd St, Santa Ana, (714) 972-1172.
El Torito off Ball in Anaheim
El Torito was open early for the last Mexico game, and rumor has it they’ll be open for the upcoming game this Saturday. Additionally, El Torito will be offering an $8 breakfast burrito, and $6 margarita while screening the World Cup. 2020 E Ball Rd, Anaheim, (714) 956-4880 and at all locations.
The Classic Q
If you were planning on catching a flight to Russia this year to catch a live match, but realized you misjudged how low your bank account would be, then you can always stop at Classic Q’s right across from John Wayne Airport. 4251 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, (949) 261-9458.
Legends of Huntington was named, “Best Sports Bar,” in the Weekly’s best of 2017 issue, so you can be sure the food will be good. Legends will be opening at 5 am for early matches, and will be a great spot to kick off this Saturday’s match. 5236 E 2nd St, Long Beach, (562) 344-5681 and 301 Main St, Huntington Beach, (714) 374-2175.
Fans of hookah and team Egypt rejoice! Nubia Cafe’s open air patios and relaxed style make it perfect for The Cup in the Little Arabia district of Anaheim. Earlier in the year, I watched Egypt suffer a heartbreak loss off the foot of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez at Nubia Cafe, but there’s no guarantee that Nubia Cafe will be open for early games this year. 1785 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, (714) 999-1199.
Swallows Inn opens at 8 am daily, and can be a great dive to watch The Cup. The city of San Juan offers a free public trolley in the summer, so if you come to watch a game at the Swallows and have never explored south O.C.,  then this is your chance. However, if you just want to drink, Swallows Inn’s 8am happy hour is perfect for you. 31786 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 493-3188.
Red Fox Lounge
When I called the Red Fox  to make sure they would be open for the early World Cup games this year, the woman on the other end of the phone laughed and said, “It’s a bar, of course we’ll be open.”
I laughed too, then asked if they had any special deals. There was a pause on the line. In a stern voice, the woman said, “It’s the Red Fox, honey. If they know, they know.”
So, I guess if you know, and happen to be in San Clemente, then the Red Fox is your spot. 220 S El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-3403.
El Indio Botanas y Cerveza
If you were to ask the Weekly’s food editor, Cynthia Rebolledo, where the best place to catch a World Cup match is, she’d probably tell you to go here. El Indio boasts a wide array of Mexican craft beer, and hands out free pan dulce for fans who show up for the early game. If you need a place to watch the Mexico v. Korea game this Saturday, then in our opinion, El Indio is your best bet. 309 W 3rd St, Santa Ana, (714) 547-7868.