The African Cup of Nations Runneth Over
I really envy people who work in Silver Spring. It must be so nice to look up at the clock, realize it's lunchtime and slip out to Roger Miller Restaurant over on Bonifant Street and watch some of the best soccer on the planet.
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament is taking place right now in Ghana, with the continent's top 16 national teams facing off in a festival of free-flowing attacking soccer, and for Washington-area fans, this tiny one-room African restaurant is ground zero. Most of the usual soccer-watching hangouts are not broadcasting the games, so if, for example, you want to watch Cameroon play Sudan -- and cheer alongside the restaurant's Cameroonian owners -- this is the place to be.
When I stopped by on Friday to watch the all-conquering Ivory Coast brush aside Benin, every chair in the restaurant had been turned to face the large flatscreen TV that hangs over the bar, with tables moved out of the way to make more room. The capacity crowd consisted almost entirely of African expats whose shirts and scarves revealed a wide number of allegiances -- Nigeria, Zaire, South Africa -- drinking dark Guinness Extra Stout and cheering on the teams playing. There's a lively party atmosphere, as everyone's sharing spare seats at tables and bantering in French about their favorite players. At halftime and between games, the owners play West African music videos.
The Africa Cup of Nations runs through Feb. 10, with the group stages wrapping up this week and the quarter-finals beginning on Sunday. (Check a schedule of matches.) Most games kick off at noon, so I could grab a plate of the spicy groundnut stew (chicken in peanut sauce) and a beer while watching defending champions Egypt take on Zambia tomorrow, or, if it wasn't for a certain chat, Senegal and South Africa on Thursday.
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