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.
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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.
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.