Feeling competitive? There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition among friends and in Toronto, challenging a few friends to a game – be it a board game, video game, arcade game or some other random sport or activity – is easier than ever. Sure, there have always been spots where you can play a game of darts, or shoot some pool, but over the past few years, Toronto has become a city where games play either a starring role or act as a significant draw in bars.
Ready to get your game on? From ping pong to Xbox, here are 10 bars where you can play games in the city.
The Greater Good
On the corner of Geary Ave. and Dufferin St. is where you’ll find The Greater Good, a cavernous space dedicated to craft beer, pizza, and arcade games – what more do you need for a great night out? The bottom floor is where you’ll find the bar where knowledgeable staff can guide you toward the perfect pint based on what you like in terms of beer. There’s also thin crust pizza (slices and whole pies) courtesy of North of Brooklyn Pizza being doled out from a small kitchen where you order at the window. Upstairs is where all the game playing happens, the majority of which are free to play, save for the skeeball.
The good folks behind The Greater good also happen to own Get Well, their first bar to feature retro video games and pinball machines, as well as North of Brooklyn pizza. This relaxed Dundas West spot takes their beer very seriously and you’ll find a rotating roster of craft brews to drink while you play your games of choice. There’s usually a list of about a dozen beers on tap and close to 100 bottles and cans, which also rotate.
Ping pong is the name of the game at SPiN, A 12,000 square foot ping pong nightclub on King St. Here you’ll find 12 ping pong tables, two licensed bars, a food menu, lounge, private party room and cocktails, beer, wine and spirits (depending on what you need to fuel your ping pong playing). You can walk in or reserve a table and the bar hosts tournaments and events regularly should you want to show off your skills.
There’s plenty to keep you busy in The Ballroom, located in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. You’ll have your pick of two floors featuring the likes of 10-pin bowling, ping pong, pool tables, bubble hockey, foosball and an Xbox center. When you’re not focused on gaming, there are four bars serving cocktails, beer, and wine as well as an extensive menu of food items ranging from salads and sandwiches to flatbreads, burgers, pastas, and more.
Dundas West is where you’ll find Dundas Video, which serves up craft beer and cocktails and makes it easy to settle in for a night of old-school gaming. There are several different consoles available, including NES, SNES, N64, PS1 and Sega Genesis. This is a dive bar at its best – friendly service, relaxed atmosphere, and well-priced beverages. Throw in the multitude of games and you have a place that it’s easy to see why people return to week after week.
Track and Field Bar
If you’re in the mood for lawn games like bocce ball – no matter the season – you can do it at Track and Field Bar, a subterranean space in Little Italy that boasts 1000 square feet of indoor lawn game space that includes two lanes each of bocce and shuffleboard. One lane of each can be reserved, while the other is available for walk-ins. In addition, there are cocktails on tap, craft beers to enjoy and a couple of snacks in the form of Tex-Mex dip and spinach dip.
Snakes & Lattes
Snakes & Lattes (two locations) offers the chance to play from a selection of thousands of board games – yes thousands. So no matter what you’re in the mood for game-wise, there’s a very good chance you’ll find it here. Both locations, one on College St. and one in the Annex, serve up food, coffee, tea, and booze in the form of beer, wine, and cocktails, but food items differ at each. Either way, you’ll know you have the chance to re-energize mid-game no matter which spot you’re playing at.
Get your vintage arcade game fix at Nightowl Toronto on College St. The bar and live music venue is home to several arcade games as well as a foosball table (losers have to buy the next round). When you’re not playing games there’s a menu full of comfort foods like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, sliders, and wings. Drink-wise, you can find six beers on tap, several in bottles and cans and cocktails named after various Toronto ‘hoods like ‘Eglington West’ and ‘St. Clair’. In addition, there’s even a selection of boozy floats.
See-Scape, a unique spot in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood, bills itself as a sci-fi bar and cafe where it’s totally encouraged to let your inner game and sci-fi loving self emerge. They’ve got over 100 board games as well as a bank of TVs where you can play a variety of video games, from consoles ranging from Atari to Xbox. The game-centric spot is also an event space and art gallery and they’ve got food, beer, mixed drinks and coffee and tea to fuel you as you play.
Junction City Music Hall
Also located in the Junction you’ll find aptly named Junction City Music Hall, a basement bar and live music venue located at Dundas and Keele. In addition to having the chance to catch some live music most nights of the week and enjoy a craft beer in a relaxed, totally unpretentious bar, Junction City Music Hall also has games. Put down your beer for a minute and try your hand at the various pinball and arcade games on offer.