The 2018 World Cup is here, and it’s already promising a month of toppled dynasties. With 2014 winner Germany out of the competition, it’s clear that it’s anyone’s game this year.

Just as teams are mixing up the World Cup standings on the field, you can shake up your menu with some cuisine from World Cup countries around the globe. Here are some of our favorite meals from the final 16 for you to try in this week’s specials.

 

Uruguay

Uruguay’s surprise upset against host country Russia may harken back its heady World Cup glory days of the ‘50s, but this hidden gem on the South American coast is anything but old-fashioned. Patrons don’t need to be able to find Uruguay on a map to be enchanted by its favorite dish, asado — a.k.a. barbeque. The recipe is super simple and available from Tasty Kitchen.

 

Russia

This year, Mother Russia has the honor of hosting the World Cup games, and the home team advantage seems to be suiting them well. Despite an unexpected blow from Uruguay, Russia is sitting in a comfortable second place in the Group A standings at the time of this writing.

Homey, filling, and meaty, Russian dishes have a lot to offer American diners. Skip the borscht, though, and go for a more crowd-pleasing meal like shashlik, a Russian take on shish kebab. Recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen.  

 

Spain

If the Spanish showing thus far in World Cup 2018 has been uncharacteristically free of drama, the cuisine in the Land of Cervantes more than makes up for the lack of flair.

You don’t have to be a culinary adventurer to dabble in Spanish cuisine. From paella to empanadas to churros, there are plenty of tasty standards that will feel right at home on your menu. For a new twist, try San Jacobo, a Spanish version of Cordon Bleu. Recipe available here from The Spruce.

 

Portugal

Portugal eked out a win over Iran, securing their way out of the group stage. Celebrate this crucial win by preparing one of star forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s favorite meals: beef skewers with fried cornmeal. A Beef skewers (espetada in Portuguese) recipe is available from Curious Cuisiniere, and a Fried cornmeal (milho frito) recipe from Easy Portuguese Recipes can be found here.

 

France

France’s Les Bleus are hoping to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their World Cup win by bringing home another trophy. Root for them à la française by serving some haute cuisine: salad lyonnaise (recipe from Food 52). With thick slabs of smoked bacon and a homemade vinaigrette, this zesty salad is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.

 

Denmark

“We are red, we are white, we are Danish Dynamite,” goes the familiar Danish chant. Denmark may be a longshot for the World Cup win, but their Nordic spirit is not to be denied — on and off the field. Honor the Dynamite with a feast fit for a Viking: leg of venison with grilled celery fries. Recipe courtesy of the official website of Denmark.

 

Croatia

Don’t make the mistake of judging this squad by their cheerful red-and-white checkered uniforms — with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric in midfield, this team is an imposing powerhouse. Croatian cuisine is just as commanding, and best when stuffed. Try punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) for a savory, satisfying special. Both recipes from Chasing the Donkey.

 

Argentina

With the likes of Lionel Messi on their side, it seemed like Argentina would have the World Cup served up on a silver platter. But it’s been a rough ride for La Albiceleste, who were within a hair’s breadth of being eliminated if not for a late goal against Nigeria.

Savor the sweetness of that game-winning play with dulce de leche, an Argentinian specialty. Try this recipe from Allrecipes, paired with bananas and vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert that’s sure to score a hit.

 

Brazil

With five World Cup wins under their belt, Brazil is a formidable opponent, but the native cuisine makes for tasty and zesty companion at the dinner table. Add a little bit of authentic Brazilian cuisine to your menu with feijoada, a pork and bean stew flavored with spicy chorizo. This dish, much like The Green and Yellow, packs a real wallop. Recipe courtesy of Ricardo Cuisine.

 

Switzerland

Switzerland’s showing at this year’s World Cup has been fueled by controversy, but there’s nothing controversial about cheese fondue and rösti, a kind of fried potato pancake, two celebrated dishes from the home of the Matterhorn. Recipes from David Lebovitz and the New York Times.

 

Sweden

Nobody was more glad to see Germany exit the group stage than the The Blue-Yellow. After a contemptuous defeat by Germany’s Die Mannschaft, Sweden came back in a blaze of glory, beating Mexico to secure their place in the final 16. Celebrate in style with gravlax, a dill-cured salmon dish that will satisfy even the most discerning palates. You can find the recipe, complete with mustard sauce, over at the Food Network.

 

Mexico

For Mexico’s El Tricolor, it’s been a rocky road to the knockout stage. But Germany’s surprise defeat at the hands of North Korea means that Mexico will narrowly escape elimination, at least for now. Mexican cuisine is about as diverse as you’d expect for a country nearly two thousand miles long, and well-traveled terrain for American diners, to boot. Go for something a little more unusual with carne en su jugo — which literally translates to “meat in its juices” and is every bit as appealing as its name suggests. Recipe from Allrecipes.

 

England

England’s match against Columbia this Tuesday is being called the “biggest knockout game for a decade.” After a crushing loss against Belgium, the English just barely squeaked out of the group stage. Now they have their work cut out for them if they hope to survive the knockout. Steal your customers for what will no doubt be a harrowing match with ploughman’s lunch, essentially an Anglo-infused cheese plate, best served with a foaming pint. Recipe here from The Kitchn.

 

Belgium

Belgium is undoubtedly the one to beat in this year’s World Cup. Still, they’ll have to face down some tough contenders — France, Brazil, and Uruguay, to name a few — if they hope to make it out of their next few brackets.

Fortify your customers’ competitive spirit with some native cuisine, namely with the country’s “national obsession,” moules frites. Juicy mussels simmered in wine, topped with creme fraiche and paired with crispy fries, this dish is sure to please football fans and non-watchers alike. A full recipe is available from Genius Kitchen.

 

Japan

Japan just barely made it into the final rounds, squeezing past Senegal by gaming the “fair play” system. The move certainly earned them some opponents, but they’ll have to play a lot tougher if they hope to bring the heat against Belgium this week. Luckily, anything can change at the World Cup, so it’s anyone’s game.

Cool down the controversy with a chilled soba noodle salad tossed in a flavorful honey-soy dressing. It’s sure to make your taste buds stand at attention!

 

Colombia

Colombia’s win against Senegal last week delivered them to the knockout stage without the help of their star player, James Rodriguez. Next, they square off against England, which promises to be a pretty solid match.

Get patrons ready for this spirited game with la bandeja paisa, a hearty dish of beans, white rice, chicharrón, Carne en Polvo, chorizo, fried egg, ripe plantain, avocado, and arepa. It makes a great brunch special for patrons tired of the same old breakfast fare and will have eaters chanting CO-LOM-BIA! Recipe from My Colombian Recipes.

Good luck to all the World Cup teams as they advance to the next stage of play — and happy eating to your customers!