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Get Your Game on at These Austin Bars and Cafés

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Smart City
Mar 18, 2019

When you hear the term “gamer” these days, your mind probably races to images of people having a great time as they save humanity from zombies or other hostile invaders on a computer screen. While that may be the modern image of a gamer, the term used to be more commonly affiliated with other types of traditional games.

In many cases, these games haven’t undergone an update since they first hit the market. These games sometimes require skill and sometimes force you to pray for a lucky roll of the dice.

We’re talking board games, pinball machines, pool tables and arcade games. Those multi-generational games that have proven their staying power.

The Renaissance of Conventional Games

01 Renaissance of Conventional Games

In recent years, people of all ages have started to seek out opportunities to play the games of yesteryear. Board games are a great example of the renaissance that traditional games are currently experiencing.

In 2013, the sales of games and puzzles around the world hit a total of $9.3 billion. Just three years later that total reached $9.6 billion. By 2023, boards games sold across the globe are expected to generate more than $12 billion in revenue.

With the new and renewed interest people have in more conventional games like board games, businesses that give people the chance to test their skills and luck have been popping up all over. Austin, Texas, is not an exception in this regard. Whether you want to play board games in Austin, try your hand at pool or find an Austin arcade bar, there’s a place for you to play your favorite traditional games in the Capital City.

1. G&S Lounge

02 GS Lounge

Located at 2420 S. 1st Street, G&S Lounge has been catering to locals for nearly 30 years. Here you’ll find air hockey, foosball, pinball and a bevy of shooting games. The drinking hole even has a hybrid game that’s a combination of air hockey and foosball.

While G&S Lounge has a full bar, most guests don’t have to look beyond the establishment’s long list of beers to find a refreshing drink. Pub grub is on the menu until 2 a.m. seven days per week. Live musical performances are scheduled regularly, often showcasing local talent.

G&S Lounge takes great pride in its local clientele. If you’ve just moved to the Austin area, you might be recognized as a newcomer — once you establish yourself as a regular, the G&S Lounge will quickly start to feel like your home away from home.

2. Buffalo Billiards

Buffalo Billiards occupies a 22,000 square foot space built way back in 1861. When the Ziller family originally constructed the building, it was called the Missouri House. The Missouri House was Austin’s first boarding house. There’s no question that a lot of people have had plenty of fun at 201 East 6th Street over the years.

Buffalo Billiards has been entertaining patrons with games, adult beverages and tasty fare since it opened its doors in 1999. Pinball, darts, pool, shuffleboard and foosball are all standing at the ready for you to play.

Buffalo Billiards is more than one of the bars with games in Austin. The establishment is also a great place to hang out and meet people. Whether you’re new to the area or you’ve been a resident for a while and simply want to meet a different breed of folks, Buffalo Billiards should be at the top of your must-check-out list.

3. Emerald Tavern Games and Café

03 Emerald Tavern Games and Café

You’ll find Emerald Tavern Games and Café located at 9012 Research Boulevard. Meant to mimic an English pub, this café is about as laid back and welcoming as they come.

Emerald Tavern Games and Café is home to more than 300 games. The eatery makes it easy to find a game you’ll enjoy by labeling its games so you can see the number of people who can play and how long it will take to finish each game.

If you enjoy seasonal beer, you’ll be happy with what’s on tap. People who like to get creative with their beverages will enjoy all the combinations of ales that are available at this popular café. Since Emerald Tavern opened in the fall of 2013, it’s encouraged patrons to be their own mixologists and order creative, sometimes unprecedented combos of tasty English ales.

Emerald Tavern Games and Café isn’t just an inviting spot where you can relax as you play games. It’s also a store where you can purchase the games you enjoy playing with your friends and family members.

A place to play games, drink responsibly, enjoy yummy food and buy your favorite games? It doesn’t get much better than Emerald Tavern. That is, you wouldn’t think things could get much better until you look over the eatery’s full calendar of events. From game nights to events that are all about beer, wings or painting and more, there’s always something fun to do at Emerald Tavern Games and Café.

4. Full Circle Bar

Did you know there’s a national Skee-Ball league? In fact, Austin is the home of a chapter that participates in it. The Full Circle Bar, located at 1810 East 12th Street, is home to the city’s Brewskee-Ball team.

As you’d expect from a bar that hosts a national Skee-Ball team, the Full Circle Bar has multiple Skee-Ball lanes. The bar is adorned with plenty of décor that celebrates Skee-Ball in just about every way imaginable. As if that wasn’t enough, the bar also has a back porch where you can hang out with new and old friends. If you want to do more than hang out or play Skee-Ball, you can participate in the bar’s weekly cornhole tournament, which takes place in the appropriately named cornhole garden.

Visitors who simply want to kick back and enjoy an adult beverage or two will be happy to know that the Full Circle Bar hosts happy hours at least four evenings per week. During happy hour, patrons can save $1.00 on draft beer, or they can imbibe on mimosas or well cocktails for just $3.00 per drink.

5. Vigilante Gastropub & Games

04 Vigilante Gastropub Games

A relatively new entrant in the Austin gaming and bar scene, Vigilante Gastropub & Games is located at 7010 Easy Wind Drive #150. If you want to play games, indulge in some tasty food and drink without having to worry about driving home, you’ll be happy to know that this establishment is easily accessible via the Crestview Station train line.

Vigilante Gastropub & Games is where people gather every day to play more than 160 different board games. The eatery’s games range from casual games which rest on luck to rigorous strategy games that will require you to put your thinking cap on.

Whether you’re a proven gaming nerd or you simply want to play a game every once in a while, you’re always welcome at Vigilante Gastropub & Games. You have a standing invitation to play with other visitors, or you can rent one of the establishment’s private rooms to play with your own guest list of competitors exclusively.

Great customer service, food, beverages and games are all paramount at Vigilante Gastropub & Games. If you want or need something, you simply have to call for friendly service that will cater to you every time you step foot in this bar. At this establishment, “Everyone is welcome, and everyone’s a Vigilante.”

6. The Little Darlin’

The Little Darlin’ is where you can unwind while you play horseshoes, pool or darts. If washers is more your game, you can show off your skills at this inviting eatery located at 6507 Circle South Road as well.

The Little Darlin’ has both lunch and late-night menus filled with mouth-watering fare that pairs perfectly with the bar’s extensive drink menu. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can enjoy brunch at The Little Darlin’ from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From fried chicken and waffles to Rueben eggs benedict, a vegan tofu scramble and more, you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger as well as your thirst on the bar’s brunch menu.

7. The Grand-Social Club and Billiards Room

05 The Grand Social Club and Billiards Room

Known as The Grand or One Classy Joint locally, The Grand-Social Club and Billiards Room is home to what may be the largest number of pool tables in all of Austin, Texas. You can also play darts, pinball and foosball whenever you stop by The Grand, which is conveniently located at 4631 Airport Boulevard.

The Grand offers drink specials every day of the week, including weekends. You can get $4.00 mini pitchers of Lonestar on Sundays and Mondays, or you can enjoy drafts for $3.50 or less on Saturdays, for example. You can pair your drink special with some typical bar food or try some fare you might be hard-pressed to find in any other watering hole, such as Tofu Karaage or a BBQ noodle salad.

If you enjoy music, The Grand-Social Club and Billiards Room should be your destination every Sunday and Monday night. On each of those nights, The Grand features a live DJ who’s sure to play all your favorite hits. With 20 rotating beers on tap at any given moment, The Grand’s covered patio is a great place to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger when you take a break from playing games.

8. Shangri-La

Anyone who wants to get away from it all will enjoy losing themselves at Shangri-La. Located at 1016 East 6th Street, this dive bar boasts multiple pool tables and an oversized patio in the back. It’s not all about games at Shangri-La. The eatery serves up some scrumptious Creole food every day, which is naturally paired with some refreshing adult beverages.

If you want to play pool at this establishment, you should be prepared to reserve a spot. Pool is pretty competitive at Shangri-La, and reserving a table can be difficult. Be sure you fill your pockets with some change so you can reserve a spot to play early on when you visit Shangri-La, especially if you’re going to visit during prime time or happy hour.

Shangri-La hosts all sorts of special events. To see what’s next up on the bar’s calendar, be sure to follow the eatery on their social media.

9. Epoch Coffee

06 Epoch Coffee

Founded in 2006, Epoch Coffee has multiple locations in the Capital City. Whether you’re a hippie, student or professional, you’ll fit right in at the Epoch Coffee café located at 221 West North Loop Boulevard. Open around the clock, seven days per week, this location serves hot and cold beverages and food that will invigorate you no matter what time of day or night it might be.

If you want to play board games in Austin, you should head over to Epoch Coffee. Battleship is a perennial favorite often played by new and familiar patrons regularly. If you tire of eating pastries while you battle a friend playing a board game, you can order a slice of pizza from Eastside Pies during your stay at Epoch Coffee.

10. Recess Arcade Bar

07 Recess Arcade Bar

If you’re looking for an arcade bar in Austin, Texas, you won’t have to look beyond the Recess Arcade Bar. The bar’s name tells you exactly what this place is — a true arcade bar that will rouse the kid within you.

Located at 222 East Sixth Street, the Recess Arcade Bar has just about every arcade game you can think of. Here are just some of the old-timey video games you’ll find at this popular destination:

  • Donkey Kong
  • Mrs. Pacman
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Centipede
  • Frogger

Classic video games aren’t the only games you can play when you stop by the Recess Arcade Bar. You can also play Giant Chess, Giant Connect Four or Giant Jenga, to name just a few alternatives.

Whether you want to tap into your 1980s or 1990s self, or you want to enjoy some hearty bar food and adult beverages, head over to the Recess Arcade Bar. Both the child and adult versions of yourself will thank you for doing so.

11. Black Sheep Lodge

Who said you have to venture into the outdoors to hunt deer? Rather than sitting in a tree stand hoping to see a buck, you can hunt virtual deer at the Black Sheep Lodge. If a hunt – virtual or otherwise – simply isn’t your thing, the Black Sheep Lodge still has plenty of things to keep you busy. You can play pool, shuffleboard or darts, for example. Of course, you’re always welcome to simply order a drink and some bar food and sit back and relax in the eatery’s comfortable environment as well.

The Black Sheep Lodge is also a great place to chill out with your dog. The establishment’s outdoor patio is dog-friendly, and it’s a fantastic spot for you to people-watch.

You’ll find the Black Sheep Lodge at 2108 South Lamar Boulevard. The bar posts the beers it has on tap on its website along with its rotating menu of weekly food specials. The eatery has a full calendar of events, so be sure you check the bar’s website regularly to avoid missing a social event you’ll enjoy.

12. The Golden Goose

08 The Golden Goose

If you just can’t get enough of South Austin, you won’t have to go far when you leave the Black Sheep Lodge to find a dive bar. You can simply head over to 2034 South Lamar Boulevard and walk into The Golden Goose. Dimly lit yet still inviting, The Golden Goose is home to a 22-foot shuffleboard table where you can play shuffleboard for hours on end.

In addition to being known for its shuffleboard table, this bar is well-known for serving cocktails that are hand-crafted and exceptionally playful. The Disiac, a beverage made with pressed beet juice, is a sample of the intriguing drinks you can order at The Golden Goose. Enjoying a Deep Eddy Frozen Moscow Mule is almost a rite of passage for anyone who wants to make the most of and fit into Austin’s thriving bar scene.

13. HandleBar

Nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, the HandleBar is the Capital City’s self-proclaimed “adult wonderland.” If you’ve ever wanted to play Giant Jenga on a rooftop while you enjoy a beer or cocktail along with some great food, the HandleBar should be your next stop.

Located at 121 East 5th Street, the HandleBar is a neighborhood bar that welcomes familiar faces and newbies in equal measure. When they talk about the HandleBar, many people will tell you that they intended to stop by for a quick bite or drink but ended up staying for hours. Once you experience this wonderland, you’ll instantly realize why that happens as often as it does.

14. Hops & Grain

09 Hops Grain

More and more, people want to feel good about the places they do business with. This means it may not be enough for a bar to have games, yummy food and creative beverages to earn a patron’s hard-earned money. Some people will want to know that they’re spending their dollars at an establishment that’s committed to their community.

Hops & Grain is a craft brewery and taproom that is 100 percent dedicated to giving back to the community. Every year, the brewery’s employees volunteer with local non-profit partners to bring attention to the people and places that make Central Texas such a wonderful place. The organization also donates space and products to bring awareness to the priceless work its non-profit partners do.

In addition to being committed to the community, Hops & Grain is dedicated to making sure its guests have a great time. Located at 607 Calles Street, Hops & Grain serves craft beer in its taproom seven days per week. You can grab some food from the Food Monger Fresh + Freestyle food truck Wednesday through Sunday, and you can enjoy time with your canine companion on the outdoor patio.

If you want to see how Hops & Grain makes such delectable beer, you can take a tour of the facility at pre-set times on Fridays and Saturdays. If your group includes eight people or more, it’s advisable to schedule a tour in advance.

Smart City Locating: Your Source for an Extraordinary Apartment in Austin

10 Smart City Locating Austin

Austin is the place to find an array of bars and cafés where you can play all sorts of games, and the Capital City is also where you’ll come across apartments that will enable you to take advantage of everything Austin has to offer. Let Smart City Locating help. We’re a totally free, hyper-personalized service dedicated to helping awesome people find amazing apartments. To find an apartment you’ll love, contact us today!

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