There are some bars that are good for serious drinking, some bars that are good for dancing, and some bars that make you want to hang out with your mates for hours, play games and have a few drinks. Try out various libations wtih different amusements (Connect Four with beers? Chess with Martinis?), and you might just find your winning combinations.
Melbourne bars with board games
Claim a spot near the exposed brick wall, split a bottle of red with your opponent, break out the Guess Who? and it's almost like you're living it up in a New York warehouse conversion. While you're waiting for a go on the giant Jenga board, take advantage of the cheap meal deals – $10 entry with free pizza and a drink on Wednesdays!
There are bars with games, and then there are games bars. Queen of Spades is in the latter category, with a list of almost 200 games available to play. There is a catch, though – while most bars with board games do not charge for their games, it is $5 per person to play at Queen of Spades. You get unlimited games for that, but if you're thinking of a quick game of Uno before heading out for the night, bear it in mind. The bar offers a breakfast menu until 5pm every day, so you can have granola or avocado toast while you sink your mate's battleship.
This quirky Lygon Street favourite favours a broad range of music, and perhaps an even more varied selection of art. Sink into a comfy couch beside the fire and get stuck into a classic board game.
Despite the name, Good Heavens isn’t a pearl-clutching kind of place. From the moment the doors open local suits and bar hunters with their fingers on the pulse start staking their claim on the precious rooftop real estate above Fancy Hank's so that they can spend an evening lording it over Bourke Street while Hawaiian shirt-clad staff shake up vintage tipples at the central island bar. There are board games and card games available for to play while you sip.
With board games as well as the odd trivia night, you'll feel right at home in this quiet, beer-loving sanctuary. Taste a new beer every time with the extensive tap list while you eat from the bar menu, which features plenty of burgers and loaded fries.
Games Laboratory is the classiest games store in town. In addition to a cracking range of board, card and miniature games, the venue has a packed calendar of tournaments and events along with a games library – a gold coin donation will allow you to play any available game in store. The secret downstairs bar, called Downstairs@Lab, is the perfect place to celebrate a victory. It's open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until late, and you can borrow a game or buy one from upstairs.
Melbourne bars with arcade games
Pick from free-play or coin-operated arcade machines, stake out the Nintendo 64 or rest between fighting marathons on the comfy couches dotted around this cavernous, mainly underground space. Bartronica holds singles' nights and fiercely competitive tournaments (the most recent Mario Kart tournament was won on the final turn of the final race); top scores are immortalised (for one night) on the chalk board. There's even a beer garden that pretends it's in New York. Game on.
B. Lucky and Sons is one part bar, one part adults-only arcade where you can drink a spiked bubble tea while shooting aliens on a giant, two-person version of Space Invaders. The flashy-flashy outside continues inside but now it’s the games themselves lighting up the room. Take your pick from nostalgic faves like Dance Dance Revolution and Mario Kart, or try your luck at winning a prize from a claw machine or spinning wheel.
The part-bar, part-arcade takes over the location where Los Barbudos, a Cuban-themed watering hole, used to be. Framed photos of Cuban baseball legends has been replaced by an 8-bit mural of '80s retro icons including Pac-Man, Nike Air Jordans, and a boombox. Those familiar with old-school arcade classics can expect tipsy rounds of Daytona, Street Fighter II, Pac-Man and Buck Hunter. Rounds of beer while you wait your turn at the games are encouraged – a pot or pint of the Bastard Son Pale Ale will also come with a game token.
The first things to note about Archie Brothers is that it’s like stepping into a neon-hued vaudevillian dream. It’s a little bit Blade Runner if Blade Runner were PG-rated and extremely good looking on the ‘gram. The entire complex is decked out with nostalgia-inducing ways to entertain yourself, from arcade games to theme park rides. Challenge your mates to a round of Mario Kart or hit the road for real (sort of) with a turn on the Dodgem Cars. There’s a grand total of 67 arcade games to try out, as well as bowling and an interactive XD motion theatre.
How about a drink with a view?
Or sing your lungs out
'Total Eclipse of the Heart'. 'Rock Lobster'. 'Someone Like You'. 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman!'. What do these songs have in common? They're all A-grade songs – weapons, if you will – that will help you absolutely slay your next karaoke set and leave your fellow singers gasping. We've chosen our favourite places to let loose, mic in hand, from private rooms to public bars.