Soccer fans take a deep breath, the wait is over: The FIFA World Cup is finally here. Between June 14 and July 15, 32 teams will compete for the title of world champions in Russia. For a whole month soccer fanatics around the world will rearrange their lives to accommodate their team's schedules. Americans may not have a home team to root for (thanks to a shameful performance against Trinidad and Tobago), but that doesn't mean we can't get into the World Cup spirit too. Whether you like soccer, hate it, or lay somewhere in between, celebrate the tournament by visiting these local restaurants serving up the cuisines of the World Cup teams.
Russia: Dumpling Tzar
As the host country, Russia received automatic qualification to this World Cup. Their chances are not great with Uruguay in their pool, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the Russians' take on dumplings. Visit one of the two locations in Fremont or on Capitol Hill.
Egypt: Hummus Cafe
This will mark only the third time that Egypt has appeared in a World Cup. All eyes will turn to Liverpool star Mo Salah as the Egyptians make a run for the cup. While you're engulfed in the games and throwing back pint after pint, you might consider a gyro or shawarma to satisfy your grumbly stomach.
Even if you're not familiar with soccer, you've probably heard the name Cristiano Ronaldo. The soccer legend and god among us mere mortals calls Portugal home. Pick up some wine and pastries from this Portuguese cafe and wine shop located in the Greenwood neighborhood.
The Spaniards are expected to fare better than they did at the last World Cup where they didn't make it out of group play. Between their contribution of tapas and some of the best ham and wine on earth, they arguably deserve every bit of success for their culinary gifts to the world.
France: Cafe Presse *
The French are passionate about many things: baguettes, cheese, wine, and, of course, soccer (they literally have a castle dedicated to training their soccer stars). Cafe Presse is a known place for soccer fans around Seattle, so channel your passion for soccer with a cafe au lait if you're catching a morning game or a nice wine for an evening match.
Peru: San Fernando Roasted Chicken
After failing to make an appearance in the last eight World Cups, the Peruvian national team returns with high hopes. Peru is the birthplace of quinoa, ceviche, and a truly great roast chicken traditionally served with fries, taking the national dish from great to perfect. Find primo poultry at this Central District spot.
Iceland: Scandinavian Specialities
Iceland is making its first appearance in the World Cup. After winning the hearts of literally everyone at the Euro Cup two years ago, it's almost impossible to not root for them this year. Get a taste of the small island at this Ballard shop where you can pick up some Icelandic treats.
Argentina: Buenos Aires Argentinian Steakhouse
Argentina is home to two of God's greatest gifts: Lionel Messi and Argentine steak. The former will seek redemption after suffering a loss to the feet of Germany while the latter is something you can feast on in Belltown.
Brazil: The Grill from Ipanema
So the British may have claimed to have invented soccer, but the Brazilians finessed it into "the beautiful game." Brazilians have also finessed what it means to dine on grilled meats. Pay one flat price and get unlimited meats sliced off gigantic skewers at this Belltown restaurant; flip a card from green to red to signal if you want any more meat (not to be confused with getting thrown out of the all-you-can-eat game).
Switzerland: The Melting Pot
The Swiss may not have won a World Cup yet, but they sure have won the stomachs of millions with fondue. The magical gooey-ness that is fondue will make you forget all the woes of yesterday's defeat on the pitch or off. Getting your dipping hands ready at its location in Queen Anne.
Germany: Rhein Haus *
Odds are if you have European ancestry, you're part German. Lucky you. The Germans are tied with Italy as the second most successful team at the World Cup and they happen to come from a place that takes great pride not only in their soccer, but also in beer and sausages. Who wouldn't want to have a winning team to root for and good food and drink to celebrate with? Rhein Haus on Capitol is the place to do it.
Mexico: Tacos Chukís
There are countless places to get a few tacos and a cerveza in Seattle, but one of the best is the Tacos Chukís on Capitol Hill (or South Lake Union and Beacon Hill). Grab some tacos and if you're fútbol savvy join one of the pick up games at Cal Anderson park and show off your skills. After all, nothing beats a day of soccer and tacos.
England: George and Dragon Pub *
The World Cup has for the most part been a tale of woe for the English—they haven't won the cup since 1966. No matter. Grab a pint with your mates and partake in the great English tradition of rooting for a team that always seems to fall short of expectations at this Fremont hangout. Just be sure to remember to call it football—out of respect, of course.
Belgium: Brouwer's Cafe
Another team that's never won the World Cup, Belgium's chances of moving beyond group play this year are looking good. Devour a variety of pommes frites and guzzle Belgian beer at this Fremont establishment in honor of the Belgians.
The Japanese may not have much luck on the pitch competing against European and Latin powerhouses, but they have the British beat when it comes to food. Sorry lads, but sushi, ramen, and udon—and especially the handmade soba noodle at this Stone Way restaurant—beat blood pudding any day.
Senegal: La Teranga
This West African nation made its World Cup debut in 2002 when it beat then-champions France. They're a long shot to move on, but that doesn't mean they can't make for a great underdog story for this World Cup. Pay a visit to this Rainier Valley restaurant for lamb, chicken, and fish dishes served on jasmine rice.
*Denotes places that are showing matches