Editor’s Picks

12 Bars & Cafes for Fun & Games

Whether you prefer to play bocce ball and giant Jenga or old-school Nintendo and pinball machines, there’s a watering hole here for you.

By Megha Tejpal September 1, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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The Black Labrador Pub

Famous in Houston for its pub-style shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, “sole in its coffin” and, of course, fish and chips, this Montrose mainstay is also known for its shaded outdoor patio, on which you’ll find a giant chessboard complete with oversized pieces. It’s as close as you’ll come to Central Park’s Chess and Checkers House, right here in Houston (and, true to form, even our chess boards are bigger here). 

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A portion of the over 500 games on hand at Board Game Island in Galveston

Board Game Island Cafe

What do you do when your weekend at the beach gets rained out? Hit this café on the Strand, home to over 550 adult and children's games, plus a good selection of desserts, wines by the glass and local brews such as Saint Arnold and Karbach. An evening here isn’t complete without a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity. 

Brooklyn Athletic Club

You don't have to be a member to enjoy the perks of the BAC. The menu of hearty American fare changes with the seasons, but staples like mac and cheese loaded with beef short ribs stick around all year long. The expansive front and back yard invites guests to partake in games like ping pong, bocce ball and jumbo Jenga. Bonus: dogs are welcome. 


The 2,000-square-foot, dog- and kid-friendly patio is the center of attention here—the spot in town for bar-goers who like a few rounds of corn hole with their craft beer. Also on offer: a terrific cocktail menu, plus Southern-fried pub grub including chargrilled oysters, chicken fried steak bites and blue cheese-stuffed burgers. 

Dulce Tapioca

Known for its large menu of smoothies and tapioca teas, this is a popular destination at Sugar Land Town Center, often attracting the after-school masses seeking an afternoon sugar rush. The cozy space invites guests to enjoy comfortable seating areas, complimentary wi-fi and classic games like UNO and Apples to Apples. 

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Challenge your friends to MarioKart at Kung Fu Saloon instead of having them over to your house.

Kelvin Arms

A longtime watering hole for Rice Village locals, this Scottish pub boasts consistent, friendly service and an eclectic vibe, with pool, darts and shuffleboard. On Thursdays, score a 14-ounce USDA choice New York strip or rib-eye with sides for under $20. 

Kung Fu Saloon

What sets this place apart from all of the other watering holes on Washington Ave.? The fact that it’s a gamer’s paradise—and by games, we’re talking everything from old-school skee-ball and arcade games to ping pong and a giant Connect-Four grid. The bar hosts happy hour on weekdays from 4 to 9 p.m. and all day on Sundays until 9 p.m. Favorite snacks include beer-battered onion rings and a build-your-own burger menu. 

Little Woodrow’s

There are those who play and those who watch. Spectators won't find a stranger event to cheer on than turtle racing at this Midtown spot. Thursdays at 8 p.m., crowds descend to cheer on the reptiles as they slowly make their way across the sprawling outdoor patio—because, why not? This is also a casual spot for a game of corn hole after work. Bring your dog and your appetite; the tacos and nachos are tasty.  

Maple Leaf Pub

Canadian transplants feel right at home at this Midtown pub known for its north-of-the-border brews and non-stop hockey action. The bar offers classics like jalapeño poppers, buffalo chicken strips and sausage dogs—we’re still waiting for them to offer poutine—plus bingo on Mondays and trivia on Thursdays. Don’t miss the foosball table. 

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Neil's Bahr has more than a few back issues of your favorite comics and graphic novels on hand.

Neil's Bahr

An evening at this bar in East Downtown will take you back to all those nights you spent in your cousin's basement—this time, with drinks. Battle it out with friends on the Nintendo 64, check out the comic book wall, or pick out one of the board games. Whatever you choose, it will go perfectly with a sweet-and-sour vodka Pikachu and a grilled burger or dog. 

Poison Girl

This dive bar on Lower Westheimer is known for its intriguing decor and vintage pinball machines. There’s an excellent house jukebox as well as a back patio that’s ever popular with the Montrose crowd (maybe it’s the life-sized Kool-Aid Man). Many of the city's best food trucks park outside the bar—the perfect way to soak up the booze. 

Sage County

Located at the corner of Brazos and Bagby—the center of the Midtown universe—this spot is for the laid-back party fan. Outside, there’s corn hole and giant Jenga; inside, there’s ping-pong, complete with cutthroat Tuesday tournaments. The entry fee is $10 and includes a T-shirt and sweatband.


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