Ready Player One: Charlotte Game Bars

Whether you want to play a round of pool, head outside for a patio game, or relive former triumphs at the arcade, if you’re in the Queen City, you’re livin’ in a gamer’s paradise. Game. On.

ABARI Game Bar - photo by Shots by Jones.

Game night in Charlotte has officially moved out of your living room. These spots don’t just offer a few board games in a corner, they put their gaming front and center and invite you to step up and test your luck (or skill). Whether you want to play a round of pool, head outside for a patio game, or relive former triumphs at the arcade, if you’re in the Queen City, you’re livin’ in a gamer’s paradise. Game. On.


ABARI Game Bar

1721 N. Davidson Street

Branded as Charlotte’s first arcade and bar hybrid, ABARI is an old school gamer’s dream. Start the night by playing a few rounds of pinball, then head over to the bar for a cocktail or one of nine on-tap craft beers. What happens next is a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Will it be Ms. Pac-man or Killer Queen in the arcade or Mario or GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64? No matter which gaming route you choose, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Hours: Monday-Friday from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday from Noon – 2 a.m.


820 Hamilton Street

The masterminds behind VBGB (more on VGBG below) created 8.2.0, a 21+ upscale venue, fully-equipped with a karaoke lounge, a decadent pizzeria, a ‘80s-esque arcade – including Skeeball – and a full-service bar that specializes in designer draft cocktails, like their Cucumber Martini. And if you are longing for a good book, scope out the secret library (if you can find it) and meander over the shelves stocked with classic hardbacks while taking in vinyl tunes.

Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. – midnight | Thursday-Saturday from 5 p.m. -2 a.m. | Sunday and Monday-CLOSED

Hattie’s Tap & Tavern

2918 The Plaza

This local hangout is sandwiched between two prime neighborhoods: Plaza Midwood and NoDa. Grab your pals (human and furry) and enjoy craft beers while listening to live music or playing Giant Jenga. Head over to the arcade for some old-school fun or claim a TV to play endless Nintendo games. And if this wasn’t enough incentive to come to Hattie’s, every Sunday they host a Game of Thrones viewing party. Winter is Coming to Hattie’s.

Hours: Monday-Thursday 4 p.m.-2 a.m.| Friday 3 p.m. – midnight | Saturday-24 hours | Sunday- Noon-2 a.m.

Lucky’s Bar and Arcade

300 N. College Street, #104

Travel back to the 1990s, where boy bands were kings and arcade games were all the rage. Play all your favorites like Champion Street Fighter II, NBA Jam and Air Hockey. Tip: Tuesdays are the way to go—every Tuesday is $2 Taco Tuesday. Tron meet Taco.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Tuesday from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday from Noon -2 a.m.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography


VBGB Beer Hall & Garden

920 Hamilton Street

Located in the AvidXchange at the NC Music Factory, VBGB has modernized the traditional beer garden. Home to “Charlotte’s largest patio” (tented from fall to spring), VBGB makes sure that the weather doesn’t distract from your trivia night, Giant Connect Four game or Giant Jenga game. When the sun is shining, you can rent one of VBGB’s volleyball courts for a little fun in the sand. As the evening wears on, head to the bar and sip on one of their 30 craft beers and then rest your drink on their 5 inch “frost rail,” an icy respite that will keep any beer cool. If you are feeling bold, make sure to order the “totchos,” tater tot nachos.

Hours: Monday-Wednesday from 4 – 11:30 p.m. | Thursday from 4 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. | Friday from11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. | Saturday from Noon – 2 a.m. | Sunday from Noon – 11 p.m.

10 Park Lanes

1700 Montford Drive

This retro Montford hub has got bowling, live music and a lively outdoor patio that will satisfy all needs for a night out. Start the night with bowling and then head over to 10 Pin Brew & BBQ for some Mac & Cheese Rollers or a Buffalo Chicken pizza. Then head outside to the 10 Pin Terrace and play bocce, cornhole or ping-pong.

Hours: Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. – midnight |Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. – 2 a.m. | Sunday from Noon – midnight.

Piedmont Social House

2135 -C Ayrsley Town Blvd

Enjoy bowling, pool, shuffleboard, darts, foosball, board games, arcade games as well as ping-pong, cornhole and Giant Connect Four in Piedmont Social House’s spacious outdoor area. The gourmet menu includes unique food items like the Salmon Piccata and Parmesan Truffle Fries as well as many local craft beers and daily drink specials.

Hours: Monday from 4 -11 p.m. | Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. | Friday and Saturday from 11a.m. – midnight. |Sunday from Noon – 11 p.m.

Queen Park Social

4125 Yancey Road

Located in South End, this “boutique entertainment house” is chock full of libations and games. Sip on a local craft beer or one of their specialty drinks while perusing the limitless game options. Bowl to your heart’s content or challenge your friend to an epic ping-pong tournament. Finish the night off with a relaxing game of shuffleboard while nibbling on their sizzling Southwest Nachos.

Hours: Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m.- midnight | Friday from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. | Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. | Sunday from 11 a.m.-11p.m.

The Blind Pig NoDa

453 E. 36th Street

The Bling Pig combines the eclectic essence of NoDa with the energy and fun of a classic sports bar. Cozy up to the bar and watch the game (there are six TVs at the bar for you to keep your eye on multiple games) while sipping on your favorite beer. Relive your college glory days with a round of beer pong or test your strength and agility with the punching bag. But before you go, give the Claw a whirl, you might win a stuffed animal!

Hours: Monday-Friday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Saturday-Sunday from Noon – 2 a.m.

Photo by Montford Billiards


Slate Billiards

200 E. Bland Street

Three words: “Pool. Pong. Party.” In addition to having billiards and ping-pong, Slate has Giant Jenga, Giant Connect Four, corn-hole and over 30 HD TVs to satisfy all sports fans. And a party isn’t a party without some libations! Order one of their specialty cocktails, local beers or a bottle of wine and pair them with a tasty snack like mini corn dogs or fried Oreos.

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday from 4 p.m. – midnight. | Wednesday and Friday from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday from Noon – 2 a.m.

Montford Billiards

1607 Montford Dr., Suite G

This billiards hub boasts five pool tables, dartboards and local beers on draft. With various drink specials, free pool Mondays and the quintessential pool hall vibe, this two-year old spot is quickly becoming a tried and true favorite.

Hours: Monday – Sunday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Rackem Pub and Billiards

1898 Windsor Square Dr, Suite A

If you are serious about pool, this is the place for you. On top of having killer drink specials and an extensive appetizer menu, billiards is the claim to fame in this pub. Head over to Rackem on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and compete in a double-elimination style pool tournament. Or if tournaments aren’t your thing, gather your friends and join a league.

Hours: Monday – Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Elizabeth Billiards

1400 Central Ave

Creative Loafing rated Elizabeth Billiards as the “Best Pool Hall” due to its classic pool hall atmosphere. Grab a cold one and play as many games of pool as you desire—it’s free! This local watering hole is buzzing with activity with everything from entertaining Karaoke Raffles to screening the big game.

Hours: Monday – Sunday from 3:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.