eliza sohn

Pool? Yawn. Darts? They would be fun if we actually got to throw them at something other than that stupid board. Pinball? Sure, we enjoy flipping the paddle and smacking the ball around, but we can do that at home—and we don't need quarters. That's why we uncovered some of our city's less conventional bar games for this year's drinking issue. So head on out there, throw down a few, and get competitive!

Slingshot Lounge
5532 SE Center, 445-6649

None of the games at this SE Foster haunt involve an actual slingshot (Boo! False advertising!), but the Slingshot Lounge has the next best thing. That's right—they just opened their new game room a couple months ago, and air hockey is on the docket. There's no better sound than the crack of the mallet hitting the puck, and no sweeter sight than the look of defeat on your friend's face as you whip another one right by his useless wrist.

Fremont Ridge Inn
5103 NE Fremont, 288-2515

Jenga is a fun game, but it's not nearly dangerous enough. This Northeast dive has the right idea: Instead of using lame-ass little pieces, you play with a stack of foot-long two-by-fours. Now you're talking! When the loser pulls the wrong block, KER-ASH! The tower will topple, and you'd best get out of its way... quick like. Oh, and if it smashes that nearby big-screen TV, guess what? You're buying it.

Vendetta
4306 N Williams, 288-1085

As if a giant patio and sloppy joes on the menu weren't enough, Vendetta offers free shuffleboard, a game that only gets easier as you drink. Plus, there's some tripped-out art directly above the table—something for you to focus on when the spins kick in. And the best part? If you should need to let one rip after all those sloppy joes, your date's all the way at the other end, more than 20 feet away. So salt up the table and let those pucks slide!

Grand Central Restaurant and Bowling Lounge
839 SE Morrison, 236-2695

While there's a certain lowbrow joy to the classic bowling alleys that populate our town, have you ever experienced slipping into brand-new/not-smelly shoes, and rolling a perfectly unchipped spherical ball down a non-warped lane, and having your score calculated by state-of-the-art equipment? Then by all means, get thee to the newly renovated Grand Central Bowling Lounge, and enjoy a super fancy cocktail while you're at it.

Leisure Public House
8002 N Lombard, 289-7606

So what the heck is bocce ball, anyway? Well, it's kind of like croquet, except without the fun of swinging a giant hammer. This St. Johns hangout has a gravel bocce ball court out on the patio; on a nice day, bring a friend, and pretend you're old Italian men. Better yet, bring a REAL old Italian man. Maybe he can tell you how to actually play the damn game.

The Nest
1801 NE Alberta, 282-0230

I was but a wee tyke, but for some reason I remember hearing during the '88 presidential race that George Bush the Elder's favorite game was horseshoes. "What a candyass," thought I, "Go Dukakis!" But as it turns out, horseshoes is pretty damn fun, especially with the aid of a few libations. It comes with its own lingo, too! So, step on out to the "pit" and let those "heel calks" fly. If you "pitch" the most "ringers" or "leaners," you'll be the "winner," and your opponent the "Dukakis."

Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th, 517-0660

Dear Green Dragon,

I love you. Really, I do. I love your convenient inner-Southeast location. I love your umpteen-thousand taps of beers that I've never heard of. And I LOVE your foosball table—it's a Tornado, which everyone knows is the finest brand of foosball tables. But PLEASE. I can't play in the dark. I am not Buffalo Bill; I don't wear night vision goggles. How about turning a light on over your gorgeous, glorious foosball table so I can actually see what the fuck I'm doing? Okay?

Basement Pub
1028 SE 12th, 231-6068

We've mentioned a lot of fine games here, but these all pale in comparison to the majesty that is No Respect: The Rodney Dangerfield Game. Tucked away in the Basement Pub's overflowing shelf of board games, Milton Bradley's finest achievement is a surefire recipe for hours of number-stacking fun. Never mind the insanely complicated 10-page rule booklet or the drably incomprehensible game board; we're talking Dangerfield here, and as the great man said in Caddyshack, "Hey everybody, we're all gonna get laid!" Now that's a game where everyone wins.