Chicago’s Top Arcade & Board Game Bars

There’s nothing I love more than a bar with games.  It doesn’t even have to be a barcade – just give me a machine with nudey Photohunt and I’m happy!  For the other bar game lovers out there, I’ve compiled a list and some commentary on the best game bars in Chicago.  Happy playing!

Board Game Bars

There are two Chicago bars that stand out to me in the board game category based upon their locations, game selections and beer selections.

Guthrie’s Tavern in Lakeview is my pick for where to go if I just want to play board games.  It has great beer, a cozy, neighborhood vibe, and a nice selection of fun games.  Guthrie’s is where I first played Blokus and have proceeded to purchase it for myself, my parents, and introduce my entire extended family and friends to it since!  Outside of Blokus, the last time I was at Guthrie’s, they had everything from Battleship, to Candyland, to Four Square, to Trivial Pursuit – so you’re sure to find something you like.

Galway Arms in Lincoln Park also has a wide selection of games.  Much larger than Guthrie’s and fashioned as an authentic Irish bar, one bonus of choosing Galway over Guthrie’s is that Galway has food – and it’s pretty tasty.  Galway and Guthrie’s have somewhat similar types of games, but Galway doesn’t have Blokus.  It makes up for this, though, with a wide selection of trivia and Q&A games that are really great for a group of more than four.

Other Chicago bars that I believe have board games (but am no longer certain because I haven’t visited in awhile):

Barcades or Beercades

There are two barcades that call Chicago home: Emporium in Wicker Park and Headquarters in Lincoln Park.

The most standout difference between the two bars, other than location, is that the games at Headquarters are free, whereas the games at Emporium are token fed.  Tokens are extremely cheap, but cheap still isn’t free.  Although I love the fact that Headquarters is free, it leads to the problem that patrons crowd around the most popular games in groups and play them for hours, so the lines for games at Headquarters tend to be a bit longer than they are at Emporium.

The atmospheres at the two barcades differ slightly as well.  Although both are bars that one could definitely hang out in without playing or caring about the games, this seems to be slightly truer for Emporium, as it has more of a ‘bar that happens to have lots of arcade games’ feel.  Headquarters, on the other hand, shows vintage WWE/WWF and American Gladiators episodes, and has a more funky or alternative vibe.

Both bars have an extremely impressive craft beer collection, and are generally great places to hang out and play some games for quite cheap.

Mixture Game Bars 

There are far too many bars with various random games to list, but below are some quick notes on bars I have been to with games I like:

Crossroad’s Public House in Lincoln Park is where I’ve found myself occasionally on Sunday Fundays.  Although I haven’t been to Crossroad’s at night, during the day it is usually largely empty, so you have the bar games to yourself and various sporting events playing on the TVs.  Crossroad’s boasts foosball, the giant punching bag machine, giant Jenga and Big Buck Hunter. 

Streeters Tavern on the Near North Side has a wide selection of good games, despite being a huge cluster**** each time I have been in there.  It boasts giant Jenga, pool, beer pong and the nudie Photohunt machine.

McGinny’s Tap on North Avenue in Old Town has the nudie Photohunt machine, which is a major win in my book even if there are no other games.

Other Chicago bars that I believe have games (but am no longer certain because I haven’t visited in awhile):

 *Featured image from www.guthriestavern.com

About the author

Lauren is a 'digital nomad' (for lack of a less obnoxious term) who works, lives, and travels out of her truck camper with her partner, Patrick, and dog, Odin, the one-eyed Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. She started TravelSages in the summer of 2013, and has since founded a digital marketing consultancy, called LyteYear, and a sustainability brand, called RePrint. Before moving into her tiny mobile home, Lauren lived in Chicago for 6 years, pursued two graduate degrees, studied abroad at Oxford, worked for a summer in Hong Kong, and traveled to various countries in between. She has a mildly unhealthy love of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Netflix, and breweries with good New England IPAs.

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