As a tourist town, Los Angeles suffers by comparison to other cities. It lacks the compactness of Boston, D.C., or San Francisco; cities where a solid day’s walk lets you to soak in a wealth of sights. It doesn’t have must-see architectural landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Willis (Sears) Tower, the Space Needle or any of the monuments along D.C.’s mall. It doesn’t have grand sanctuaries of green like Golden Gate Park, Central Park, Prospect Park, Grant Park, or the Boston Common. Even visiting Philly’s Rocky statue is more fun than the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is an experience as exciting as reading a Wikipedia list of famous people.
But what L.A. has over every other big city is easy access to nature. You can drive two hours up to shred Big Bear’s slopes then come back down for a Pacific Ocean surf session. The Santa Monica Mountains that cleave the city between the L.A. basin and the San Fernando Valley feature dozens of great hikes. And the most beautiful big city bike path in the country is the 22-mile Marvin Braude Trail that runs along the beach from Pacific Palisades down to Rancho Palos Verdes.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if you wanted a definitive L.A experience that included time for watching soccer, your best bet is Santa Monica’s Ye Olde King’s Head. With the King’s Head as your base of operations, you can go for a hike, go shopping, hit the beach, and visit the pier and still have time to take in a big match. Along the walls of this venerable institution you’ll find photos of the many British luminaries who have stopped in for a tipple, including David Beckham, Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams, Michael Caine, Oasis’ Gallagher brothers, Wimbledon’s “Crazy Gang” midfielder Vinnie Jones, and gloriously-mulleted cricket legend Ian Botham. The King’s Head serves up all the pub classics like Welsh Rarebit, a ploughman’s plate, chicken tikka masala, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, and, of course, a properly hearty Sunday roast. While their main barroom gets jammed tighter than a tube train for almost all matches, it’s a fairly massive place so you’ll always be able to squeeze in. If your significant other isn’t into the thought of nervously following football in a dark room, there’s retail therapy available nearby at the 3d Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place mall. Best of all, win, lose, or draw, the Pacific Ocean is only two blocks away for a post-match sobering swim.
Other classic soccer pubs around L.A. include the Valley’s Fox & Hounds and Sprinkbok, Hollywood’s Cat & Fiddle, Santa Monica’s Cock n Bull, Palms’ Irish Times, Downtown’s Casey’s, and the Miracle Mile’s Tom Bergin’s.
But the Brits and Irish don’t have a monopoly on pairing a big match with a good drink. Silver Lake’s Red Lion Tavern, Torrance’s Alpine Village, and Venice’s On the Waterfront are great options to knock back knackwurst while raising a sizable stein for either Germany or Switzerland.
Pico-Union’s Papa Cristo’s and Malibu’s Taverna Tony are great spots to watch Greece play their stout D while enjoying glasses of ouzo paired with traditional fare. Fans of France and Belgium can expect great Gallic menu food paired with a charming ambiance at Beverly Grove’s Little Next Door.
Above all else, and although San Franciscans will strongly disagree, Angelenos enjoy the America’s best Mexican food. I can’t claim to be an expert on the thousands of amazing spots in the Southland but I’ve enjoyed catching games at two excellent down-low spots; Inglewood’s Los Ponchos and Santa Monica’s Libertad Soccer Club located right next door to the West Side’s best burritos at Tacos Por Favor. One of L.A.’s oldest Mexican restaurants is El Cholo, and the original location’s bar is a great place to catch a match. North Hollywood’s Salsa and Beer is another epic place to watch.
Let us know your favorite spots to catch the action in L.A.
Ye Olde King’s Head
116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Fox and Hounds
11100 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91604
16153 Victory Blvd Van Nuys, CA 91406
Cat and Fiddle
6530 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Cock n Bull
2947 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
3267 Motor Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
613 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017
840 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
2366 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
833 W Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90502
On the Waterfront
205 Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles, CA 90291
206 N Western Ave Los Angeles, CA 90004
222 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
2771 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265
Little Next Door
8164 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
162 N La Brea Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301
Libertad Soccer Club
1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
1121 S Western Ave Los Angeles, CA
Salsa and Beer
11669 Sherman Way North Hollywood, CA