Day 1 of World Cup 2010 is here! For those of you that took the initiative to rise early to watch the opening ceremony before South Africa kicked off against Mexico, I commend you. I was disappointed as you probably were to see that Nelson Mandela's heavily anticipated speech—in which he would proclaim how bringing the World Cup to South Africa embodied his vision for the "new" South Africa—was canceled due to a death in his family. It was still heartfelt listening to President Jacob Zuma speak and then watching the spirited and inspired South Africans fight to a 1-1 draw with Mexico.
Afterward I began my quest to find the World Cup's best venue in Santa Fe. I started at Zia Diner to watch France and Uruguay (both are former champions) duke it out. The Zia has set up two TVs for the Cup and will be showing every game. They are in the bar room so one may sip some brewskis or eat while enjoying the beautiful game.
Accordingly, the scene had a pleasant diversity to it: families mixed with passionate young urban professionals on lunch break, single old men spotted the bar stools and tables. Even our own SFR columnist Rob Wilder and son London were enjoying the game and some lunch. I knew I was in good soccer company when my server turned out to be my sister's old assistant coach, who was indifferent to this game but cheering for Spain overall.
I on the other hand was going for Uruguay; I'd rather see some beautiful South American fútbol than watch France play sheepishly for 85 minutes and then escape with a win after a cheap goal like they have done in past Cups. Others in the crowd wanted France. As one yuppie said, "I need France to win for my office bracket." Another bar goer responded, "That's more than fine with me but sheesh, let's get some scoring going." Oh American soccer fans, always looking for the instant gratification that come in all of our popular sports.
After getting some chicken wings and a healthier Cobb salad with my mom, we watched the game unfold and ultimately end in a scoreless draw. As people trickled out disappointed, many stayed continuing to reflect with strangers about the games and what will come in the next month. While Zia's food has certainly gone a little down hill in recent history, it was a great place to watch the cup, allowing patrons to stay much longer than a typical lunch and offering a relaxed and homey environment for the games. Hopefully next time there will be some more scoring and the place gets a little rowdier, giving it a more English Pub hooligan feel. Tomorrow: USA takes on England, prepare for a bloody good time!
Overall Score 7/10 Golden Boots
This will be an ongoing blog series with a new entry or two every week about a different restaurant or bar to watch the action. If you have any suggestions for Santa Fe world cup venues by all means e-mail us at email@example.com and put “world cup” as the subject.