The namesake dish at Bunny Chow (74 Orchard St between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-260-5317, bunnychowny.com)—a loaf of bread stuffed with curried lamb—is one of many that showcase the South Asian influences in South African food. (Indians settled there en masse throughout the 19th century.) “I butcher the lamb myself and cook it with the bones for about four hours,” says chef and co-owner Paul Simeon. Modeled after the divelike lounges throughout South African townships known as shebeens, Bunny Chow has an upper level that’s ideal for sipping a glass of wine while snacking on biltong—dried, coriander-infused beef best described as a cross between prosciutto and beef jerky. This month, the Lower East Side haunt is inviting guest chefs representing countries participating in the World Cup into the kitchen: Expect a rotating menu with Bunny Chow’s signature South African dishes, as well as specials from other soccer-obsessed locales.
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There’s more shebeen decor at Madiba (195 DeKalb Ave between Adelphi St and Carlton Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-855-9190, madibarestaurant.com), where you can park in front of the screens at the bar, or spread out at your own table in the dining room. Proprietor Mark Henegan will be hooking you up with authentic street food like boerewors (South African sausage) rolls ($5), and veggie, chicken or lamb bunny chow curry ($6--$8). Plus, for every game there will be drink specials, featuring beverages from the competing teams’ nations.
Nevada Smiths (74 Third Ave between 11th and 12th Sts; 212-982-2591, nevadasmiths.net) attracts the type of soccer fans liable to pull the “I’m having a personal emergency” card when their team hits the field. S.A. transplant Michelle Ackermann has since met many a Saffer at the watering hole since moving to New York City six years ago. “It’s an amazing place to watch games, because everyone who is there lives for the sport,” she says. The pub has more than 20 brews on tap and shows up to 100 games per week, so brace yourself for a World Cup viewing experience of biblical proportions on its 14 plasma screens. It all begins on June 11 at 10am, when S.A. goes up against Mexico.
For one month only, you can nab FIFA apparel at the Play Beautiful Pop-up Experience (Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry St at Spring St; playbeautifulnyc.com), which will also host live demonstrations by football freestylers. Transport yourself to South Africa, sans the 20-hour flight, at the indoor match-viewing theater, which is being modeled after Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg and will pack in about 70 fans.
Brooklyn’s The Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Rd between Stratford and Westminster Rds, Ditmas Park; 718-287-3101)gets its name from a South African expression used to describe an impossible outcome. Adderley is a main thoroughfare in Cape Town that’s not conducive to farming, similar to parts of Brooklyn; the saying goes, “If that ever happens, I’ll buy you a farm on Adderley.”