Looking for a perfect first-date icebreaker or a game-changing family night out? Any restaurant that features a fabulous meal, as well as interactive games, is a W in our book. Some spots serve board games like Monopoly and backgammon, while others feature games that require more physical activity, such as an indoor miniature golf course. Here are six restaurants with games where you can add another element of fun to your next outing.
Punch Bowl Social, Denver, Colorado
This entertainment dining concept kicked off in Denver in 2012 and has since added seven other players to the team including restaurants in Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. It’s games galore: board games like Monopoly, Pictionary and Apples to Apples, and bowling, ping-pong, darts, foosball, bocce, giant Jenga, wall-sized Scrabble, marbles, and Pac-Man video games. The Southern-twist menu features dishes like the Alabama Chicken Sandwich (crispy chicken and white BBQ sauce, shredded lettuce and tomato, bread ‘n butter pickles and house cut fries). Pop quiz: Guess the most popular dish? The answer is: Chicken n’ Waffles. Make a reservation at Punch Bowl Social-Denver.
Urban Putt, San Francisco, California
Located in San Fran’s Mission neighborhood, executive chef Dane Boryta aces California comfort cuisine like his Tombo Tuna Poke (toasted seaweed, red clay salt, gluten-free soy, sriracha, and taro chips) and his Back Nine deep-dish pizza (black bean sauce, cilantro-pumpkin seed pesto, avocado and tomato salsa, cotija and mozzarella cheeses, diced bell peppers, and jalapeno cream). And he also serves a side of fun. There’s a mini-golf course on the first floor next to the main bar — 14 handcrafted holes including wonky machines and some San Francisco-themed holes, such as the 1906 hole — the buildings shake, rattle and roll. Enjoy a meal upstairs, then hit the links. Make a reservation at Urban Putt.
Proof at the Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
Hit the road — the menu here features dishes from all 50 states. Think shrimp and grits, Maine lobster roll, Beer Can Chicken, and fried green tomatoes, and drinks like American whiskey and bourbon, and a soda jerk station for milkshakes. You’ll find classic Americana games, too, including “Etch-A-Sketch” for kids while they eat (or you eat!), and there’s a shuffleboard table in the middle of the restaurant. Come at night, and that Etch-A-Sketch and other games meant for the kiddies become a popular pick for adults indulging in some late-night dining. We can only imagine the etchings. Make a reservation at Proof at the Four Seasons Resort.
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
At James Beard award-winning chef Jose Andres’s flagship restaurant in the Penn Quarter, you’ll find a Spanish tapas/small plates bar menu that includes dishes like Flauta de Jamon Iberico Fermin, (flauta bread brushed with tomato and extra virgin olive oil and topped with cured ham from the legendary acorn-fed Iberico pigs of Spain) and, another Spanish specialty, a pair of glass-topped foosball tables where you can dine and play (. One is a nod to Andres’ beloved Futball Club Barcelona, the other a cavalcade of pop stars like Kiss.) You can score a table at his other Jaleo locations, too: Arlington/Crystal City, Virginia, Bethesda, Maryland, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Make a reservation at Jaleo D.C.
Daly’s Pub & Rec, Park City, Utah
This gastropub in Park City expertly plays around with handcrafted brick-oven pizzas in the pub’s display oven, and diners can play right along — there’s a four-lane bowling alley, shuffleboard, darts, vintage arcade games, and lots of TVs for all the big sports games. Order small plates for sharing, like the Soft Pretzel Fondue (Gold Creek Farms cheddar with black ale mustard), and entrée faves, such as Daly’s Pub Burger and Mac ‘n Cheese. Their sister restaurant Yuki Yama Sushi also has board games available for diners. Make a reservation at Daly’s Pub & Rec.
Radiator, Washington, D.C.
The M.O. at this culinary-driven bar and neighborhood gathering spot is craft cocktails, global shared plates from Creole to Korean, and games. Play cerebral picks like chess and backgammon or up your game with something livelier like life-sized Jenga, Connect Four, and a shuffleboard court. Cool: You’ll also find the Peruvian coin toss game Sapo (or ZappoGame) on the outdoor, 45-seat courtyard with fire pits, thanks to a fellow Kimpton restaurant chef who is of Peruvian background and grew up playing the game. Make a reservation at Radiator.
Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.
Photo credits: Cesar Rubio (Urban Putt); R. Weill (Daly’s).