In case you haven’t noticed, the 2018 World Cup kicks off today. 64 matches, 32 teams, 32 days, one cup.

What better excuse for taking a gastronomic tour of the countries taking part without leaving town? How many can you squeeze in before the World Cup Final on July 15?

Argentina

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Odds: 

Look out for: Marcos Rojo (United); Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero (City)

Where to Eat: Argentina is famous for three things: Eva Peron, Diego Maradona, and steaks. All the beef they serve at Gaucho is sourced solely from the Pampas, part of the Argentine lowlands famous for its fertile soil. Wash it down with a full-bodied Argentine wine, whether you prefer Syrah from San Juan or Malbec from Mendoza.

Australia

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Odds: 

Where to Eat: Australian-themed bar Walkabout offers drinks such as, ahem, Sex on Bondi Beach and Aussie Grog and food including the mammoth Aussie All Dayer breakfast. Or try Australasia for modern Australian food with Indonesian and Japanese influences in an elegant subterranean setting.

Belgium

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Odds: 

Look out for: Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini (United); Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne (City)

Where to Eat: Think Belgium, eat chocolate. Gelato Passion, Manchester’s popular ice cream café, serves Belgian chocolate with its ices (ideal for the hot weather and football), whilst Bock Biere Cafe’s menu includes sharing boards and fondue, complete with a chocolate choice. It also holds one of the largest selection of Belgian beers in the north. If you’re after moules frites with a traditional mariniere sauce, try Brasserie Abode.

Brazil

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Odds: 

Look out for: Ederson, Fernandinho, Danilo, Gabriel Jesus (City)

Where to Eat: Brazilian rodizio dining room Fazenda offers all-you-can-eat steaks and skewered meats, carved at the table. A must-try is the Brazilian Feijoada, a traditional bean stew with meat. Alternatively, try Brazilian food with a twist in The Corn Exchange’s Cabana, or chargrill dining at Bem Brasil.

Colombia

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Where to Eat: Colombia is renowned for two things beginning with the letter ‘c’. Let’s stick to coffee. San Fermin, the hill country between the dramatic sloping towns of Planadas and Gaitania in the Tolima region produces some of the best. Foundation Coffee House’s San Fermin coffee is deliciously sweet, with notes of orange sherbet, caramel and berries. Alternatively, Grindsmith offer two Colombian coffees roasted in Manchester.

Costa Rica

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Where to Eat: There may be a shortage of strictly Costa Rican places in Manchester, but there are plenty serving satisfying bean-based dishes – something Costa Rica is known for,  including gallo pinto – a breakfast dish of rice and beans – and the very popular sopa negra black bean soup. Wahaca in the Corn Exchange has several, whilst you can tuck into avocado pico de gallo at Pinchjo’s Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Didsbury.

Croatia

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Where to Eat: Croatian cuisine is packed with choice, and every region has its own traditions. Popular dishes include miješano meso or ražnjići (skewers of meat, fish and vegetables), zagrebački odrezak (veal stuffed with cheese and ham), and Šnicle (schnitzel). There are no stand-alone Croatian restaurants in the city centre, but a good place for schnitzel is Albert’s Schloss. Closer to Croatia (flavour-wise rather than geographically), Café Mandels in Shaw has hosted Croatian evenings.

Denmark

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Where to Eat: A kro is a Danish village pub and at KRO Bar on Oxford Road you can expect a warm welcome. Run by the Ruby family who come from Jutland on the west coast of Denmark, KRO offers all-day breakfasts as well as Danish open sandwiches – think Danish breaded plaice with remoulade, or Scandinavian gravadlax. You’ll also find Danish meat and fish platters.

Egypt

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Odds: 

Where to Eat: A popular dish in Egypt is ful wa ta’meya – fava beans and falafel. It’s the ultimate healthy fast food. There are no dedicated Egyptian eateries in the city centre, but you can grab great falafel at Pita Pit and Go Falafel for a quick bite, or Comptoir Libanais and Bakchich to linger. Jasmine on Barlow Moor Road has a Middle Eastern menu with Egyptian influences.

England

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Odds: 

Look out for: Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford (United); John Stones, Kyle Walker, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling

Where to Eat: Manchester’s Victorian Chop Houses know a thing or two about the classics. Don’t miss their legendary corned beef hash. At modern Mancunian eatery 1761, the crisp Manchester Three Rivers gin battered haddock is served with golden chunky beef dripping chips and mushy peas – aka Manchester caviar.

France

Feast your eyes on this: the Manchester World Cup of Food 2018 I Love Manchester

Odds: 

Look out for: Paul Pogba (United); Benjamin Mendy (City)

Where to Eat: Parisian-style brasserie 63 Degrees founder Eric Moreau will tell you that 63° is the temperature of a unique cooking technique that he’s perfected after years of experimentation, making their chicken full of flavour. They also do snails and a selection of French cheeses. Or try the fruits de mer and a glass of champagne at Randall & Aubin.

Germany

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Odds: 

Look out for: Ilkay Gundogan (City)

Where to Eat: Bierkeller, with the largest non-cinematic screen in the city, is a great place to watch the action. It’s also a top spot to refuel with Bavarian beers, currywurst and loaded German fries. Or head to Bavarian beer palace Albert’s Schloss for bratwurst, schnitzels and schweinshaxe (crispy Bavarian pork knuckle) washed down with a Paulaner Munich lager or German weissebier.

Iceland

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Where to Eat: A love letter to Reykjavik, Nordic bar and artisan coffee house Takk (it means ‘thank you’) is inspired by travels throughout Scandinavia and Iceland. It serves specialties like North Projekt, their own Nordic-style espresso. As far as we’re aware, there aren’t any Icelandic restaurants in Manchester, but you could always stock up on frozen cod fish fingers at the supermarket with the same name.

Iran

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Where to Eat: Popular Persian places to eat include Alborz Restaurant, Walnut in Rusholme and Pomegranate in West Didsbury. The national dish of Iran is chelow kabab, which combines kebab meat with white rice. Rusholme Chippy does tasty kebabs, as does Urban Spice on Hathersage Road, which was nominated in The British Kebab Awards 2018.

Japan

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Odds: 

Where to Eat: Japanese is one of the healthiest cuisines: think rice with miso soup, fish and pickled vegetables. Seafood is also popular, often raw in sashimi or sushi. Manchester has highly-acclaimed Umezushi, but you can also feast on sushi at Samsi. The menu is packed with favourites including curry, yakisoba noodles and bento boxes. Also try Teppanyaki Chinatown. Teppanyaki means ‘grilling on an iron plate’ and that’s exactly what you’ll get. No gimmicks. Just delicious food cooked in front of you.

Korea Republic

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Where to Eat: Korean meals allow for fun, communal eating. Flavours include kimchi (salted and fermented vegetables) plus sesame oil, soy sauce anddoenjang, the fermented red chilli paste. Popular places to eat include Seoul Kimchi, Annyeyong, Koreana and Ban Di Bul. The ever-bustling Azuma puts on a Korean BBQ sure to impress. And Peck & Yard in Chorlton is worth the journey for chicken with handmade oriental sauces.

Mexico

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Odds:

Where to Eat: This the country of world-famous food: in 2010 its cuisine joined the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity put together by UNESCO. It’s a great match for the football from tacos and nachos to burritos. Try Wahaca, Changos, Luck Lust Liquor & Burn, Barburrito and Pancho’s Burritos. El Taquero is another to try, with home made tortilla chips and a Mexican cheese fondue with chorizo and Pico de Gallo.

Morocco

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Where to Eat: Moroccan cuisine often brings together the influence of Arabic, Andalusian and Mediterranean eating. Popular dishes including tagine, cous cous, pastilla (a thick soup) and delicious coconut fudge cake zucre coco. Al Jumeirah’s Moroccan mains include traditional meatball tagine with steamed egg, whilst other Morocco-inspired places to eat include Red Marrakech, a hidden gem in Old Trafford, and the lively Mosaic Café in Ashton.

Nigeria

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Where to eat: Nigeria is known for the extensive herbs and spices across its cuisine. What about nkwobi – cooked cows legs covered in a spicy sauce? Yum. If you prefer to see legs on the pitch rather than your plate, there’s still plenty to try including curries, grilled meats, spicy soups and plantain. Roots Restaurant near Belle Vue serves a selection, whilst Ifeoma in Moston provides a takeaway option. Try ofe akwu banga, ogbono soup, stockfish and pounded yam.

Panama

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Where to eat: Popular foods in Panama include tostones – fried rings of plantain, served like we serve chips – and ropa vieja (‘old clothes’), created, so the story goes, when a man running out of food stirred up clothes to serve his family. He prayed and the clothes turned into a rich beef dish. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t any Panamanian restaurants in Manchester, so why not try Panama Hatty’s on Brown Street. Nothing to do with Panama but it will have to do. Or have a picnic down by the Manchester Ship Canal and pretend it’s the Panama Canal.

Peru

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Where to eat: Peru is known for the diversity of its crops – expect grains, including hipster favourites quinoa and maca, plus sweet potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Popular dishes include ceviche, the national dish of raw seasoned fish in citrus juices. There’s also papas a la huancaina (spicy cheese sauce tipped over potatoes) and cuy (guinea pig). Mama Pacha is a Peruvian pop-up coming to Sandinista.

Poland

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Odds: 

Where to Eat: There’s more to Polish cuisine than sauerkraut and soup. Platzki
specialise in, yes, you guessed, platzki – pancakes made from grated or ground potato, flour and egg. And there’s always a vegetarian soup packed full of fresh vegetables, and vegan friendly dishes like galabki z grzybami i kasha – barley groats with wild mushrooms wrapped in savoy cabbage with a creamy tomato sauce baked in the oven.

Portugal

Odds:

Look out for: Bernardo Silva (City)

Where to Eat: When we think Portuguese food, we think custard tarts. Portugal is also famous for its sea food. El Gato Negro on King Street serve up some Portugal-worthy salt cod croquetas, and you can pick up Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata) from the charming Dish & Spoon in West Didsbury.

Russia

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Where to Eat: Russian cuisine is diverse. Popular dishes include beetroot soup borscht, sweet-and-sour cabbage and stroganoff. Although no longer part of Russia, Armenia was under Russian rule from 1828 until 1917, and many cuisine influences are shared. Try Armenian Taverna in Albert Square with dishes including shashlik, a skewered meat dish popular across the region. Rodyna on Cheetham Hill Road is an Eastern European grocery store also selling Russian products.

Saudi Arabia

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Odds: 

Where to Eat: The national dish of Saudi Arabia is kapsa, a traditional meal of rice and chicken, often spiced. For satisfying chicken dishes, Zouk on Chester Street is highly recommended. Also popular is shawarma, the popular spit-roasted meat served in a pitta. We recommend a trip to Rusholme’s Curry Mile where Jaffa gets plenty of acclaim.

Senegal

Odds: 

Where to Eat: The national dish of Senegal is ‘thieboudienne’, which translates as ‘the rice of fish’ – marinated fish cooked with tomato paste and vegetables. We aren’t aware of any Senegalese restaurants in the city, but there are a number of African eateries which likely incorporate some of its influences, with Jollof Café on Hyde Road particularly popular.

Serbia

Odds: 

Look out for: Nemanja Matic (United)

Where to Eat: Serbia is known for its meaty national dishes including ćevapi (grilled minced meat) andpljeskavica (beef or pork patties). There are no Serbian restaurants in Manchester.

Spain

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Odds: 

Look out for: David de Gea (United); David Silva (City)

Where to Eat: There’s no shortage of Spanish restaurants in Manchester: Iberica, La Bandera, El Gato Negro, and Evuna to mention a few. You’ll be spoiled for choice at Lunya, an elegant Spanish and Catalan restaurant with a deli offering over 40 Spanish cheeses, bone-carved hams and a massive tapas menu. Tuck into an enormous portion of fragrant paella or the signature Catalan hotpot. Food to fuel you up.

Sweden

Odds: 

Look out for: Victor Lindelof (United)

Where to Eat: Take a trip to IKEA in Ashton for Swedish-style meatballs served with mash, lingonberry jam and cream sauce or try their Swedish classic pyttipanna, a potato hash with chicken. And while you’re there, why not take the opportunity to buy another Billy bookcase or a big bag of tea lights?

Switzerland

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Where to Eat: Two things spring to mind: cheese and chocolate. You can enjoy them both – in traditional fondue form – across Manchester. The Oast House offers a Fabulous Fondue, and every one sold will help fund a meal for a local person in need at Mustard Tree. Bøck Café which goes one (or two) better, not only offering cheese fondue, but a Sunday roast special fondue, as well as a chocolate option.

Tunisia

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Where to Eat: This North African country bordering the Mediterranean is known for its varied cuisine with dishes including lablabi, a thick soup made with garlic and chickpeas. For Tunisian-inspired comfort foods like lamb stew and baklawa (pastry dessert), there are plenty of places along The Curry Mile.

Uruguay

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Where to Eat: Uruguayans are the world’s top consumers of beef, so why not head to Gaucho? It’s actually Argentinian, but that’s as close as you’ll get to a Uruguayan restaurant in Manchester. And their flags are similar.

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