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By Desiree Browne in New York—
There are nights in New York City when you want to drink and there are nights when you want to have a drink. On those quieter evenings, skip the hip bar and lounge crowds and consider a bar where you can relax with a friend or two and even play a game. (Bonus points if you actually get through your game.)
Here are five bars in New York that offer billiards, ping-pong or stacks of games to choose from. Grab a drink and have fun!
75 Christopher Street, Manhattan
Open: 2 p.m.-5 a.m.
Fat Cat is like your hometown’s rec center, if your rec center had served booze and live jazz. This is no mere pool hall. Play everything from checkers to table tennis while local bands play a mixture of standards and originals. Sorry, there’s no kitchen, but the friendly bartenders have a handy book of takeout menus for hungry patrons.
399 9th Street (Between 5-6 Avenues), Brooklyn
Open daily until 4 a.m.
Low lighting and dark wood make this sophisticated bar attractive to both ends of the Park Slope spectrum: moms that wear their babies while having a pint and young singles in big groups. Huge booths leave room for a bowl of Dram Shop’s delicious Angus chili and a game of dominos, Othello or our favorite, Candy Land.
455 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn
The gorgeous brocade wallpaper makes this Clinton Hill bar feel like your great aunt’s living room. Make yourself at home with a game of Scrabble by the decorative fireplace and one of Maggie Brown’s signature cocktails.
308 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
Open weekdays until 2 a.m., weekends until 4 a.m.
Standing outside, you would never know Ocean’s 8 has a sprawling 20,000 square feet of space inside. Happy hour, with its $4 margaritas and $3 Blue Moon pints, is great for getting your evening started. If watching sports on the enormous screen isn’t your thing, choose thirty pool tables, shoot some hoops or try candlepin bowling.
Don’t be too surprised if your pool cue accidentally hits a high school kid; Ocean’s 8 welcomes locals of all ages for fun but tends to be pretty grown-up.
101 W 75th Street, Manhattan
This Upper West Side bar, located just off Columbus Avenue, one block from Central Park West, is just dive-y enough for a laid-back night but not so dive-y you feel dirty. Board games and beer make this a popular after-work spot for people in the neighborhood.
Also in our Guide: If you’re heading to NYC, check out our reviews of cheap hotels in New York City. We have visited, inspected and photographed 73 budget-friendly hotels in Manhattan.