In addition to venturing out to bars for drinks, food, music on the jukebox and good conversation, sometimes you and your friends need some competition to break up the monotony. Whether it is pool, darts, video games, washers, bocce ball, trivia or other diversions, these bars have got you covered.
We did not list any obvious places where people go especially to play games like pool halls or bowling alleys; rather, for the most part, this is a list of some bars you might hang out at that also happen to have some games for your amusement in times of need.
Note: This list is in alphabetical order.
BROOKLYN ATHLETIC CLUB Brooklyn Athletic Club is a restaurant with an interesting mix of gourmet and comfort food that is based upon an actual club in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the huge outside patio includes a beer bar and bocce ball courts, as well as areas for playing croquet, ping-pong, badminton, and pétanque (a French game similar to horseshoes). A good plan is to arrive early with friends for lunch and try some of the favorites like the Bac Baked Mac N' Cheese or the Clubhouse Burger, then make a day of it drinking beer or cocktails and playing games out back.
601 Richmond, thebrooklynathleticclub.com
DARWIN'S THEORY The first thing you notice when you walk into Darwin's Theory is the fantastic artwork painted on the walls, which looks like some of the best graffiti you have ever seen, including a giant chimp decked out like Che Guevara with the words "Viva La Evolucion" scrawled above it. Drink a craft beer or classic cocktail here while playing cards, board games, foosball, air hockey, pool or one of a number of video games in the bar, including a vintage Street Fighter 2 machine.
If you are broke, some dirt-cheap Natural Light in cans is also available, as well as uncommon drinks not normally found in Houston bars, like King Cobra 40s and stereotypical wino favorites Mad Dog 20/20 and Thunderbird.
33 Waugh, darwinstheoryhouston.com
EIGHTEEN TWENTY LOUNGE/JOYSTIX CLASSIC GAMES & PINBALLS On the first and last Friday each month, stop by Eighteen Twenty Lounge, grab a few drinks, then pay a $15 cover for Pacman Fever Fridays, which gains you admittance into Joystix Classic Games and Pinballs next door in the same building, where you can play over 200 video games all night for no additional fee.
Joystix is a retailer that specializes in classic and new arcade games, pinball machines, jukeboxes, air-hockey machines, dart machines and more; find a game that you love and you can even buy it and take it home with you, or rent a few games for your next party or event. Pacman Fever Fridays are always fun nights; relive your arcade experiences from the '80s or experience what those days were like for the first time.
1820 Franklin, 1820lounge.com
HANS' BIER HAUS Hans' Bier Haus is one of Houston's great beer bars, with a large and ever-changing selection of draft brews on tap. The inside of the bar has some dartboards for your amusement and you will also find the occasional beer pong game going on; the large covered beer garden/patio is both dog-friendly and contains one of the few Bocce Ball courts in Houston, and a bean bag toss/cornhole game. With the arrival of the warmer weather, it is a nice time to go hang out in Hans' outside garden, and the picnic tables are a nice place to play cards or a board game (Note: not included --ed.) as well.
2523 Quenby, hansbierhaus.com
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KUNG FU SALOON Besides having a cool name, Kung Fu Saloon has a nice selection of vintage arcade games and table games including Mortal Kombat, NFL Blitz and Galaga, among others; if you don't like video games they have you covered with traditional board games like Scrabble, Yahtzee and Giant Jenga and Connect Four.
Kung Fu also has shuffleboard, foosball and three skee-ball games to play while you gulp down some of the bar's Sake bombs like the "Finish Him," which is Geikeken Sake dropped in Guinness topped with Irish Cream. You can also play at being a rock star with your friends in one of the bar's two private karaoke rooms, which can accommodate up to 15 people.
5317 Washington, kungfusaloonhouston.com
NEIL'S BAHR Neil's Bahr is the place to go when you want to get your geek on. In addition to the racks of free comic books to read and classic sci-fi movies and Simpsons re-runs on the TVs, the bar has vintage arcade consoles, a classic Nintendo system, coffee table/foosball table, and tables for playing the bar's card or board games -- or bring your own in to play.
On Monday nights, patrons have the added bonus of participating in "Geeks Who Drink" trivia starting at 8 p.m.; the competition is pretty fierce since, as we all know from watching The Big Bang Theory, geeks are very smart. If you would like to join in, just show up -- team sizes are limited to six people or you can play by yourself, but what fun would that be?
2006 Walker, neilsbahr.com
POISON GIRL Winner of the Houston Press "Best Bar Atmosphere" in 2014, a big part of Poison Girl's ambience, in addition to the spacious patio out back with the giant Kool-Aid Man and the R-rated velvet paintings inside, is the row of pinball machines on the back wall. Sure, a lot of bars have a pinball machine or two, but a whole row of them is pretty rare these days outside of a full-fledged arcade.
Speaking of arcades, it is always fun playing pinball while listening to loud rock and roll music, and for those of us of a certain age it is a nice flashback to days gone past to do so here, though the tunes here are more likely to be some trendy indie-rock than the music from our high-school days.
1641 Westheimer, facebook.com/Poison-Girl-Cocktail-Lounge
RICHMOND ARMS PUB This British pub hosts one of the best quiz nights in Houston on Wednesdays starting at 7:30 p.m.; come on out and test your knowledge of sports, music, geography, entertainment, current events, history and more. The quiz lasts for five rounds, with eight questions per round; entry fee is $2 per person and teams consist of six people. You can make some money from your knowledge as well, as first prize is all of the cash from the entry fees; other prizes include payment of bar tabs, beer glasses, T-shirts, and more. Richmond Arms also has darts and plenty of craft beer from around the world to enjoy whether you want to play some games or not.
5920 Richmond, richmondarmsonline.com
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RUDYARD'S Rudyard's calls itself "Montrose's living room since 1978," and this one includes darts; luckily not the plastic-tipped darts used with electronic dartboards preferred by many bars today, but authentic steel-tipped darts with old-school dartboards. The Harris County Darts Association, founded in 1974, holds its weekly league nights here and other bars throughout the city; various divisions are offered to accommodate different skill levels. If darts are not your thing, venture upstairs to play pool while drinking craft beers and listening to some live music, local comedians or other entertainment held weekly at this neighborhood staple.
2010 Waugh, rudyardspub.com
WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE Open since 1928, West Alabama Ice House is truly a Houston institution, a big, backyard-party place where people come to grab some cold beers, sit on shaded picnic tables, and enjoy good conversation with friendly and approachable patrons. It is fun to play a game of basketball out here after you and your friends have had a few beers; a horseshoes game, ping-pong table and pool table are also available for your enjoyment. Try some of the palatable offerings at the Tacos Tierra Caliente food truck across the street after you've worked up an appetite.
1919 W. Alabama, facebook.com/WALABAMA
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