On their own, bars tend to be pretty magnificent things. Tasty adult beverages, conversations with friends and strangers, maybe live music, a karaoke machine or one hell of a jukebox; it's all in the mix when you step out for a night on the town.
But sometimes your evening requires more than just a bar tab. Sometimes you want to play around, challenge your friends, impress a potential fling or just act like a kid, (albeit while drinking adult beverages.) That's where game bars come in. These are places where drinking is encouraged, but the board games, skeeball machines and old school arcade games steal the show.
Here are ten of the best game bars in Los Angeles.
10. Prince O' Whales
The Prince O' Whales is more than just Playa Del Rey's signature hole-in-the-wall. The place is vibrant on the weekends, drawing locals and commuters alike for live music, cheap drinks and a covered patio that bridges the two main bars. When it's not too crowded, you can belly up to one of the mismatched tabletops with a deck of cards and a pitcher of beer for an evening spent reliving your finest college drinking game memories. Out back, the ping pong table doubles as a natural flip cup surface.
See also: Top 10 L.A. Bars For Day Drinking
Prince O' Whales does get a little fratty sometimes, with all of the weekend binge drinking games. On a quieter night though, you can slip into the Prince to throw darts, play ping pong out back or just relax with a cold one.
335 Culver Blvd., Playa Del Rey; 310-823-9826.
You probably already know about Tony's, the low-key bar that supplies Burbank with California craft beers and vegan sausages. You can usually find a seat on the patio, and Tony's/ Golden Road Brewing owner Tony Yanow himself might come around and ask how your Heal The Bay IPA is tasting. Inside though, things are a bit different.
Thanks to a fat stack of board games on a book shelf against one wall, most of the tables are engaged in rousing play. Battleship is a favorite, as is Scrabble, chess and nearly any variation of most card games. The attitude is always friendly, if competitive, and Tony's even hosts day-long gaming sessions for hardcore players. If you need to shake off a bad Battleship sinking, hit the pool table at the back of the room. 1710 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; 818-253-1710.
8. Cozy Inn
West L.A. has a lot to be thankful for with the Cozy Inn. It's an idyllic neighborhood bar, the kind of place that prides itself on opening at 6am. Inside, the long bar holds up aging regulars and twenty somethings who have been priced out of the bars on Abbot Kinney. The drinks are poured long and stand tall all night, and the year-round Christmas lights offer a forgiving dim glow.
Most importantly, the Cozy Inn has the shuffleboard that runs nearly the entire length of the bar, right though the middle of the room. Long ago, the Cozy Inn made the excellent decision to put bar games over foot traffic, which means you'll have to wedge yourself between the bar and the shuffleboard table to order a drink. In the back, things open up a bit, but two side-by-side pool tables ensure play action stays constant. There's even a dart board, although tossing around sharp metal objects in a space this crowded isn't recommended. 11155 Washington Pl., Culver City; 310-838-3826.
Anyone questioning whether trivia night counts as a competitive sport has obviously never t played at O'Briens. The Santa Monica pub is widely regarded as having the most challenging trivia night in town, and regulars here take their trivia very seriously. The weekly Wednesday quiz has been running since the mid-'90s, and high-minded folks have often been said to use O'Briens as a warm-up to playing on Jeopardy. Yeah, it's that intense.
See also: The Top 10 Bars in Santa Monica
Questions bounce from obscure sports MVPs to decoding Latin phrases to ancient geography, with a little pop culture spice thrown in for good measure. It's a good thing O'Briens allows up to six people per team; no one's brain is that full of useless knowledge. Unless, of course, you're Jeopardy mega-winner Ken Jennings, who has been known to drop by. 2941 Main St., Santa Monica; 310-396-4725.
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Much like Tony Yanow's other gamey Burbank bar Tony's Darts Away, The Pub at Golden Road Brewing is built for beer. All of Golden Road's own brews are available, along with a selection of other favorite pours for anyone looking to expand their tastebuds. Sitting out on the front patio with a beer in hand is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon (minus the occasional train rolling past a few feet away.) But if you're looking for a little competition, head towards the Astroturf.
The bright green faux grass runs the entire length of one side of the building, and it's been outfitted with all sorts of summertime fun. There's cornhole, the delightfully-named bean bag toss game that you might (barely) remember from the last time you tailgated at a football game. There's Aunt Sally, a traditional British pub game that somehow involves tossing a stick at a ball that's on another stick... or something. There's giant Jenga too, plus an assortment of tabletop games inside. 5410 W. San Fernando Rd., Atwater Village; 213-373-4677.
There's no need to re-enroll in a local community college when bars like Busby's East exist. The Mid-Wilshire party space will help you relive your best college parties, complete with slippery dance floor and lots of mid-'90s rap music. But instead of your crappy college apartment, there's functional seating and working electronics, including a Pop-A-Shot basketball machine, a few arcade games and dozens of TV screens pulsing with ESPN highlights. You can also fuel up with a house sanctioned round of beer pong, or cool off with some low-stress pool or a game of backgammon, because, who knows, maybe you went to a weird college where backgammon was popular. 5364 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; 323-525-2615.
See also: Top 10 Miracle Mile Bars
If you haven't been, the One-Eyed Gypsy is the looming purple building on 1st Street downtown. Step through the archway for folksy live music, interesting drinks and a young, hip vibe. Keep walking around the space and soon you'll find the real reason your heart has drawn you here -- skeeball. [Editor's note: Though the skeeball machines are out for repairs as of 9/5/13, the owner says they will be back in two weeks or less.] The mix of adult beverages and childhood memories is palpable in the air.
The One-Eyed Gypsy also has the requisite photo booth and their very own Zoltar, the fortune-telling machine popularized in the movie Big. Really, most everything about this bar will make you feel like a kid again. 901 E. 1st St., Downtown; 626-340-3529.
For upscale Los Angeles bar gaming, look no further than The Spare Room, located inside the cavernous Roosevelt Hotel. As the name implies, there is a two-lane bowling alley that has seen lots of on camera action, including a mini-tournament involving Chris Hardwick and Jon Hamm.But there's more to The Spare Room than just the lanes.
Locked away in an ornate wood and glass case are a number of high-end versions of traditional board games. Scrabble, chess, checkers, you name it. The boards are perfect for relaxing in one of the booths, aimlessly playing for a few hours with good friends, while the bar continues to serve up strong $13 cocktails, brimming with top-shelf booze. 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 323-769-7296.
Is turtle racing a game, or is it a way of life? You'd have to ask the regulars at Brennan's Pub on Lincoln Boulevard, where the weekly turtle races pack the house. The action usually kicks off around 9pm and lasts for a few hours, with different-sized turtles competing to make their way out of the ring as quickly (or, you know, as slowly) as possible. If you want to be more than a spectator, you can rent one of the turtles from the bar, but real aficionados know to bring their own. Seriously. 7089 Lincoln Blvd., Marina Del Rey; 310-821-6622.
There is no better gaming bar in Los Angeles than Blipsy's, the self-titled Barcade where booze and video games collide. No, this isn't overpriced Dave & Busters; Blipsy's is a true shrine to all things arcade, with the added bonus of being able to drink while you play.
Think of your favorite old arcade game: Pac-man, Donkey Kong, Double Dragon, Paperboy, the Twilight Zone pinball machine. The place is absolutely crammed with used arcade games, like your nerdy rich friend's garage, assuming he picked up a drinking habit and never really got his life together. Speaking of alcohol: The prices don't exactly match the decor (expect to pay $5 for the right to crack open a PBR), but for a few rolls of quarters you can enjoy yourself all night long, soaking up the 8-bit glory with a beer in your hand. 369 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles; 323-461-7067.
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