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Bars with games: Where to drink and play in NYC

At these bars with games, you can put your skills to the test while you warm up with a few glasses of the strong stuff

Photograph: Tina Zimmer

Arcade games: Barcade
It’s a bar. It’s an arcade. It’s Barcade! Thanks to a rotating selection of 20-plus beers on tap and more than 30 classic arcade consoles from the ’70s and ’80s (only 25¢ each), there’s plenty at this Williamsburg drinkery to keep you buzzed and busy. Bring friends and tag-team a two-player side-scroller like Contra or Final Fight. Or show up alone, order a McNeill’s Dead Horse IPA ($6) and set your sights on the Ms. Pac-Man high score (last time we played, it was 950,660). Be prepared—more popular games like Punch-Out!! and Donkey Kong might have lines. 388 Union Ave between Ainslie and Powers Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-6464, barcadebrooklyn.com)


Board games: Abilene
This Carroll Gardens spot offers both classy (hot cider with rum or whiskey, $7) and lowbrow (a can of Genny and a well shot, $6) drinks, along with an array of sandwiches and comfort-food staples. Nosh on pulled-pork nachos ($11) while challenging your pals to Scrabble, putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle or figuring out the rules to the Grape Escape (because, seriously, who has ever played the Grape Escape?). With a low-key vibe, crowd-pleasing tunes on the stereo and an amiable clientele, Abilene is the stuff of a Brooklyn bar-hopper’s coziest dreams. 442 Court St at 3rd Pl, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-522-6900, abilenebarbrooklyn.com)

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Bocce: Floyd, NY
Modeled after the taverns in owner Pam Carden’s Iowa hometown, Floyd has everything you could want from a neighborhood bar: cheap beer (try the Crapacopia: $15 for a bucket of six assorted beer cans, including PBR and Genesee Cream Ale), a chilled-out indie-rock playlist and regulars who all seem like that cool cousin you keep meaning to hang out with. The joint’s free-to-use indoor bocce court gives you the chance to challenge old pals or new ones to some friendly competition. 131 Atlantic Ave between Clinton and Henry Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-858-5810, floydny.com)


Jukebox: The Library
This classic East Village dive has great drink specials (the bartenders give out buy-one-get-one-free drink tokens from 5 to 8pm) and a much-beloved jukebox (18 songs for $5). The standard sounds are punk and metal (the Stooges, Motörhead), but you can find hip-hop (Run-D.M.C.) and indie rock (the Walkmen) as well. Or just zone out and enjoy the movies that are often projected on the back wall, like The Goonies or a kung fu classic. The overall vibe is grimy but friendly, and the walls are hung with massive paintings. If you don’t want to leave the ’hood but are looking to avoid an impromptu “Sweet Caroline” scream-along by a gaggle of frat boys, the Library may be the place for you. 7 Ave A at E 1st St (212-375-1352)

Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Pinball: Mission Dolores and Satellite Lounge
At Park Slope’s Mission Dolores (pictured), order from the ever-changing list of top-notch draft beers ($4–$9) and try your luck at the Spider-Man or Attack from Mars machines (75¢/game, $2/three games). Die-hard pinball wizards can play at one of seven tables at tiny Williamsburg flipper mecca Satellite Lounge. Show up, shell out a fiver for a High Life and a well shot, and cram quarters into your machine of choice (currently including Batman and AC/DC; the games change every six weeks or so) for 50¢ to 75¢ a game. Mission Dolores, 249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-399-0099, missiondoloresbar.com) • Satellite Lounge, 143 Havemeyer St between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (satellitelounge.net)


Satellite Lounge


Ping-Pong: SPiN New York
Table tennis is a great game to play while drinking: It’s safer than darts (why do we play darts when we’re drunk?), and you’re likely to be on a level playing field with your friends. Grab a few pals and head to this 17-table Ping-Pong emporium and bar in Gramercy. Beers on tap are $7, or you could order something called “Mario Batali’s Meatball-tini” ($7). You can’t beat the service: Staff members bring drinks to your table and refill your bucket of balls, ensuring minimal play stoppage. Tables are $10 to $20 per half hour on weekdays, $30 to $40 per hour on weekends, and free Tuesdays and Wednesdays after 11pm. 48 E 23rd St between Madison and Park Aves (212-982-8802, newyork.spingalactic.com)

Photograph: Stephen Kosloff

Pool: Ace Bar
With two each of pool tables ($1/game), dartboards ($10 refundable deposit), Skee-Ball lanes ($1/game) and pinball machines (75¢/game), Ace Bar is a great place to go with people you already know or would like to know better. You may have to wait it out for a pool table, but there’s ample space to swing a cue—and plenty to do in the meantime. The walls are lined with retro lunchboxes and kitschy horror memorabilia, and draft beers like Yuengling and Shock Top Belgian White are only $3 or $4 during happy hour (Mon–Fri 3–8pm; Sat, Sun 2–8pm). 531 E 5th St between Aves A and B (212-979-8476, acebar.com)

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Shuffleboard: The Diamond
Inside this seeming hole-in-the-wall, you’ll be greeted by eclectic decor—the bathroom walls are lined with old cassette tapes—and a rotating selection of craft beers such as Sinebrychoff porter ($9) and Greenport Harbor Anti-Freeze ($7). Step up to the shuffleboard table and take on a friend or stranger for free; the house rules for play ("no yelling or screaming during play, be cool") are helpfully painted on the wall. The Diamond also has a menu of upscale bar snacks, including tasty beef chili with goat cheese ($6). 43 Franklin St between Calyer and Quay Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-383-5030, thediamondbrooklyn.com)

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Skee-Ball: The Whiskey Brooklyn
Much like the basement of your coolest friend in high school, the Whiskey Brooklyn offers plenty of seating, lots to do and an ample stash of booze. The staff is friendly, and the overall vibe is homey, with exposed-brick walls and TVs showing (but not blaring) sports games. A glass of the light or dark house-made beer is only $5, but we’d suggest trying out one of the many whiskey cocktails on offer, like the Grandpa Tom’s Lemonade (Tom Lawless, lemon, sour and soda, $9). Roll a few at one of two Skee-Ball lanes ($1/game) or try out gratis shuffleboard. There’s also a mini basketball hoop ($1/game) and that trigger-happy barroom classic, Big Buck Hunter ($2/game). If you get hungry, order chicken, steak or pork tacos ($4 each, three for $11). 44 Berry St at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-8444, whiskeybrooklyn.com)

Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Greenwich Country Club
Formerly a 1930s bowling alley, this airy space now houses a massive indoor playground, complete with nine holes of putt-putt, pool tables, Ping-Pong and shuffleboard. After a round on the green ($9.95 per person per game), gather your crew at the fully stocked bar and share the 2.5-gallon Dunk Tank ($65), a boozy concoction of Absolut vodka, Malibu rum, Beefeater gin and fruit juice. Duck into the Clubhouse to tear up the dance floor when the DJ comes on around 10pm. 110 University Pl between 12th and 13th Sts (212-255-8188, gvccnyc.com)

Photograph: Beth Levendis

4th Down
If you’re going to spend a rainy day indoors fixated on a TV, at least do it with some kindred spirits at this garage turned bar. Sports fans can hunker down to watch pro and college games playing on 16 flatscreens and two hi-def projectors, most of which are visible no matter where you sit. The less ESPN-inclined can grab buckets of Sixpoint Bengali Tiger (six cans for $30) and take refuge in the back. Face off at the foosball and air-hockey tables or try your hand at Skee-Ball . There’s no kitchen here, but you can order delivery right to your perch at the bar. 170 North 4th St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (917-744-6522, 4thdownbrooklyn.com)

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Combine learning and boozing at this refined drinkery, where you can enhance your vino knowledge with classes ranging from a pizza-and-wine pairing workshop ($40) to intensive region-based courses ($50–$75). Novices and serious oenophiles can also get an educational buzz at a blind flight tasting during happy hour (Mon and Fri 5–6 pm), piloted by owner and master sommelier Laura Maniec. Before you get too tipsy, order a few gourmet small plates; we recommend the butternut squash with chickpeas and tamarind yogurt ($10). 13 E 13th St between Fifth Ave and University Pl (646-873-6071, corkbuzz.com)

Photograph: Beth Levendis

Manny's on Second
This spacious Upper East Side bar is fratty but friendly. Forty flatscreens line the walls,entertaining prepsters while they ponder the 24 beers on tap (Delirium, Ommegang). But if you couldn’t care less who’s playing, exercise your thumbs with a game of Madden NFL or Call of Duty via wireless Xbox 360 controllers. Take advantage of the daily happy-hour specials, including such steals as $2 draft pints on Fridays. If you’re planning on doing some major imbibing (at these prices, you can afford it), temper the booze with the namesake cheeseburger ($13.95), loaded with the usual fixings (cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles), plus bacon, BBQ sauce and fried onion rings.  212-410-3300, mannysonsecond.com

Photograph: Filip Wolak

Fat Cat
Don’t let the dingy appearance of this pool-hall hangout scare you away; the chill, no-frills attitude is actually part of its charm. Show up early to hold down one of several shuffleboard, Ping-Pong or pool tables ($5.50/hr Mon–Thu, $6.50/hr Fri–Sun) packed into the warehouse-size space. Ask for a pint of Blue Point Toasted lager ($6) and a cup of peanuts ($4) and slide into a booth for a game of chess, checkers or Scrabble ($1 per player). Stick around to catch the live jazz bands that take the floor after 7pm nightly ($3 cover at the door starting at 6pm). 75 Christopher St at Seventh Ave (212-675-6056, fatcatmusic.org)

There’s more to do at New York bars than curl up with a beer and wait for Staten Island Chuck to make his Groundhog Day prediction. We’ve assembled a list of bars with games like bocce, Ping-Pong, Skee-Ball, pinball and more, plus one with a great jukebox to keep your ears busy, too. We can think of few more fun ways to keep warm than by honing your skills at these indoor pastimes. Plus, you can always hit up a video game store for some take-home entertainment.

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Awesome list!  For the extremely awkward among us, having games to play while out and about is HUGE.  I’ve been to a ton of these places and they rock, can’t wait to try all the rest!   Pro tip- great places for a first date.  


Is that...Grant from Mythbusters at Barcade? Great list anyhow!

Jenna Scherer
Jenna Scherer

Hi Mike, It is indeed a list. If you hover your mouse over the photo, you'll see that this is actually a slide show that you can scroll through. Hope that helps! - Jenna S., associate editor


"We’ve assembled a list of bars with games like bocce, Ping-Pong, Skee-Ball, pinball and more" Are you going to keep it to yourself, or does 1 bar constitute a list these days?