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New York: The best bars with games

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By Nicole Puhl in New York—

With football season fully underway in New York, many sports fans flock to bars several nights each week to watch college and professional teams fight for glory. Though simply watching sporting events has its appeal, New York is home to many game bars that allow you to showcase your own skills in competition.

Ace Bar New York

Skee-Balling at the Ace Bar. Photo: Nicole Puhl

Were you the Skee-Ball champ at your seventh birthday party? Or perhaps Connect Four was more your game? Regardless, there is a bar for you to embrace both your childhood game mastery and adulthood drinking ability.

Sure, there is Dave and Buster’s in Times Square–with all the sound and the fury of a crowded, adult Chuck E. Cheese’s, but there are many other appealing, more authentic game bars throughout New York to be enjoyed.

From board games to table games, here are the best bars for a night of throwback competition:

Ace Bar
531 E 5th St (between Avenue A & B)
Neighborhood: East Village

Nearest Subway: F,V (2nd Ave Houston)
Hours: Daily, 3 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Web site

With the allure of a chill East Village watering hole, Ace Bar also adds the element of arcade and table games. Buck Hunt and Pin Ball will greet you upon entering, and if you wander to the back you’ll find Skee-Ball, pool tables and darts for further entertainment. Play the Skee-Ball with caution, as it is $1 per round (sometimes more if the machine eats your dollar) and the determination to hit the 100 hole hasn’t diminished since the last time you played.

Fat Cat
75 Christopher St
Neighborhood: West Village

Nearest Subway: 1 (Christopher St.) A, C, E, B, D, F, V (West 4th)
Hours: Daily, 2 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Web site

This West Village underground bar is essentially the basement you always wish your parents had. With 10 pool tables, 10 ping pong tables, three shuffleboard tables, three foosball machines, and even chess, checkers, backgammon, and Scrabble, it was made for entertaining.

The magic number here seems to be three–there is a $3 cover charge, $3 PBRs and it’s $3 for shelled pistachios. The cover charge is well worth it, as Fat Cat has live jazz after 7 p.m., which you can enjoy as background music to your Forrest Gump inspired ping-pong tournament or while lounging on a dingy, plush sofa.  This joint draws a crowd on the weekends, so you may have to wait outside if you don’t arrive early.

Dive 75
101 W 75th St
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Nearest Subway: 1, 2, 3, B, C (72nd St.)
Hours: Mon. – Fri. 4 p.m. – 4 a.m.; Sat. & Sun. noon – 4 a.m.
Web site

If you ever had the desire to cry out, “You sunk my battleship!” while sipping a Yuengling, then this is the bar for you.  Though not as divey as the name suggests, this small Upper West Side bar packs patrons in for a variety of rotating draft beers and classic board games. If you can snag one of the tables, you will likely find yourself in a heated match of Connect Four, Scrabble, Jenga or Apples to Apples (among other childhood favorites).

In addition to gaming, you can also admire the vibrantly colored fish swimming around in the bar’s aquarium and munch on the free mini candy bars–legitimate Snickers, not the cheap DumDums! If all this activity leaves you famished by the end of the night, Dive75 also has take out pizza menus so you can order yourself a snack straight to the bar!

Union Hall
702 Union St
Neighborhood: Park Slope

Nearest Subway: D, N, R (Union St.)
Hours: Mon. – Fri. 4 p.m. – 4 a.m.; Sat. & Sun. noon – 4 a.m.
Web site

With a little something for everyone, Union Hall triples as a concert venue, library bar and bocce court. For those looking to perfect their Italian lawn bowling skills, there are two indoor bocce lanes that can draw competitive crowds on the weekends, so be sure to sign the wait list upon arrival. The upstairs bar is the perfect place to talk bocce strategy over whiskey or a brew, as it has ceiling-high bookshelves, oversized leather sofas and a cackling fireplace.

For bocce newbies, a bit of advice: roll the bocce balls with some finesse. The object is to not hit the back wall, so throwing, heaving or kicking the ball is completely unnecessary and will warrant a death stare or two!

About the author

About the author: Nicole Puhl lives in Manhattan and writes the blog GetNYCd, which explores the nuances and thrills of city life.

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  1. Pingback: Guest Post: NYC’s Best Game Bars « get NYC'd

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