When deciding on where to go to watch the World Cup with fans of Brazil, there was really only one destination that I had in mind. Of course that would be Little Brazil on 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. This one street is home to a number of Brazilian restaurants and businesses and is always packed whenever the Brazilian national team is playing.
Brazil was taking on Cameroon in the third match of the group stages. As I made my way down 46th Street almost every restaurant had a sign up inviting people to come and watch the World Cup. It seemed as if a lot of people took the afternoon off as most of the restaurants were already at capacity and there seemed to be people coming from every corner wearing the yellow Brazil shirt. I headed in to a restaurant that was still letting people in called Chips and Salsa.
Once inside I noticed that all the waitresses and waiters were wearing either Mexico or Colombia jerseys. It turns out that Chips and Salsa was a Mexican and Colombian Restaurant. Regardless of this, the restaurant went with the flow and was showing the Brazil game on a big screen and all of the TV’s downstairs.
The other match in group A was Mexico versus Croatia. With the third group games being played simultaneously, the Mexico match was being shown upstairs.
It was obvious that soccer was a regular feature of the restaurant as the walls were adorned with posters of various players including Lionel Messi, Enner Valencia, Cristiano Ronaldo and Javier Hernandez.
It didn’t take long for the Brazil fans to get in to the match. When Neymar scored the opening goal in the 17th minute, the room went nuts.
Meanwhile, upstairs the Mexico fans were tense as they were battling Croatia for the chance to move on to the knockout rounds.
At halftime Brazil led 2-1 and the other match was scoreless.
Derek Isaac and Sam Hylton were sitting at the bar rooting for Brazil. They told me that they both live in the city, but thought it would be fun to watch the match along Little Brazil. Like me, they found most of the restaurants full and were shocked to find that the place across the street actually had the nerve to charge $50 just to get inside to watch the match.
One the second half began, Brazil dominated Cameroon and went on to a rather easy 4-1 victory.
Upstairs, however, the mood was tense as the game remained goalless. Finally in the 72nd minute, Mexico broke the deadlock when Rafael Marquez scored. Three minutes later Andres Guardado made it two for Mexico and the celebrations began. Adding to the joyful mood was the reaction of Mexico manager Miguel Herrera each time his team scored. Despite the heat and humidity in Recife and the fact that he was wearing a suit and tie, Herrera jumped around like a mad man. The final score was 3-1 to Mexico.
After both matches finished the street was packed with a lot of happy folks wearing Brazil jerseys and a couple of guys selling bootleg Brazil World Cup t-shirts out of the trunks of their cars.