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Toronto World Cup City

Toronto World Cup City

Posted by Bruce McDougall on June 01, 2014

Assuming that you can find a seat, you can enjoy a World Cup football game this month from a stadium in Sao Paulo or Natal, surrounded by fans from 32 participating countries. Or, you can watch it from a comfortable chair at a restaurant or pub in Toronto, surrounded by enthusiastic fans from 32 participating countries.

From more than 100 countries, including every country represented this year in the World Cup, people have emigrated to Toronto. And if you know where to look in the city, you can cheer along with them for Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina or any of the other six Latin American and Caribbean teams.

“Name a country represented in this year’s World Cup and there is at least a bar, more likely a neighbourhood, dedicated to it,” says Daniel Rouse, a writer and British expat living in Toronto.

For the 6,000 Brazilians in Toronto, for example, the Mata Petisco Bar in the city’s Parkdale neighbourhood promises authentic Brazilian food like  feijoada, a shot of caipirinha and a good view of game on a big-screen TV. “It’ll be for a crowd that doesn’t want to go to the pubs on Dundas or College Street,” says co-owner Steve Fernandes,

Mata might attract a few of the city’s 13,000 Colombians, as well, with pan de queso, a cheese bread made from cassava starch. But many Colombians might head instead to another restaurant on Jane Street, a few kilometres away, called  El Arriero, where they’ll find pollo fundido and guanabana juice and a room full of enthusiastic Colombians.

El Arriero serves Mexican as well as Colombian food, but the 10,000 Mexicans who live in Toronto will likely prefer a place like El Jacal, a hole in the wall on Bloor Street near Dufferin. El Jacal is run by a Mexican owner, who serves enchiladas mole and spicy beer cocktails called cheladas, because, he says, "I only want to eat what I used to eat on the street in my country."

Toronto’s 10,000 Chileans may choose to watch the World Cup at Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington Market, or Latinada, on Bloor near Parkside Drive in the west end of the city. Or they may go even farther west to Etobicoke, to a family-owned business called Pinkys’ Bakery, at Lakeshore and Brown’s Line, which boasts empanadas made from a recipe created half a century ago in Temuco, Chile.

On Dufferin Stretet, north of Eglinton, Sky Ranch Restaurant attracts some of Toronto’s 6,000 Argentinians for dinners of beef empanadas, molleja, morcilla and chinchulin.

For emigrants from other Latin American and Caribbean countries, Plaza Flamingo, in the heart of Toronto’s College Street hipster village, will likely move the flamenco dancers off the floor to accommodate some of Toronto’s 2,600 Uruguayans and 900 Hondurans with bottomless pitchers of Sangria.

Regardless of where you come from, you can find a place to go in Toronto to stand shoulder to shoulder with your compatriots during the World Cup matches. “Unless you’re going to Brazil this summer, where is there a better place to watch the World Cup?” says Daniel Rouse. “There are so many bars and neighbourhoods in Toronto dominated by different nationalities, but in each one you can count on a warm greeting.”

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