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Gaming Bars/Pubs in Seattle?

LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
edited September 2012 in PAX Archive
So I love me some boardgames and beer. There's a magical combination of good lighting, big tables, tolerant staff and low ambient noise that makes for a good spot to drink and game. Dimly lit hipster bars... not so much. Every PAX, folks are looking for a few good spots just like this for get togethers and gaming.

Excluding Cafe Mox ( and the AFK tavern (, which are each their own flavor of Awesome, what bars/pubs/coffee shops in Seattle are good spots to camp out with beer and boardgames for a few hours?

(Note: the Wayward Coffeehouse in Greenwood is closed due to fire damange and will not reopen :( )

Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
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  • That_Spoony_BardThat_Spoony_Bard Registered User regular
    It's not a gaming bar per se, but Kates Pub ( has a few spacious places to play games. I've gone with our group several times for happy hour and played games (their happy hour kicks ass btw, half price on all food and cheap beer from 3p-7p)

  • GeekyPrincessGeekyPrincess Registered User regular
    Not so much a gaming bar, but Flying Saucer Pizza in Redmond does Nerd trivia every Saturday night. It's pretty fun and the pizza is decent!

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  • KaneBlaireauKaneBlaireau Registered User regular
    Stumbling Monk on Capitol Hill next to Half Price Books has their own boardgame library, but I have never been.

  • courtneyjcourtneyj Registered User regular
    Stumbling Monk is not well lit at all but great for groups of 4. There's only 1 table bigger than that usually. Bring your own food.

  • EvilBadmanEvilBadman DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Not so much a gaming bar, but Flying Saucer Pizza in Redmond does Nerd trivia every Saturday night. It's pretty fun and the pizza is decent!

    Geeks who drink run a lot of trivia nights in the area, and they're awesome. Hit their site up for a schedule.

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  • emimonsteremimonster Silicon ValleyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Looking for a food place that has a big area to play tabletop games and won't give disparaging looks if we've been there for 5 hours. Though I have been to GwD trivia nights at Redhook, and ya that's fun, as well.
    I should def call up Kate's Pub that ThatSpoonyBard mentioned!

    emimonster on
  • LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
    We've tried most of the pubs/restaurants in our neighborhood and there's a couple that let us boothsquat because we're regulars, but haven't found that 'perfect' spot. That said, the close runners up have been Noble Fir in Ballard, Bick's on Greenwood (when it's not packed), and Pillager's Pub. We're planning on giving Kate's a try, thanks for the tip!

    Keep in mind that restaurants are in business to be a business. The disparaging looks (we've gotten them too) are mostly because the restaurant is losing money on the game table. So, here are a couple of notes on etiquette that we've learned for gaming at a non-gaming establishment. All are different applications of Wheaton's Law.

    1. Order. The servers and staff are there to make a living. If you sit for 4 hours and only order soda, make sure you tip as if you'd been ordering. A good rule of thumb for how much that is is 1 full meal & drink each hour - as if the table had been turning over. If there's someone in your party who can't afford to order a lot, someone else should tip for them.

    2. Don't game during peak restaurant hours. See #1, above. If you see the restaurant is getting really full, pack up the games and head out so the server can turn the table.

    3. Tell the server or hostess when you arrive that you'll be there for a while and ask if that's going to be a problem. It's respectful and they'll appreciate having the head's up. Typically, you'll get seated at a back table somewhere and left in peace. For extra points, tell your server immediately that your party will be tipping well even if you don't order a lot. +10 Bonus to service.

    4. Don't be a loud a**hole. Especially in nicer restaurants.

    5. Be thoughtful about the games you bring. Arkham Horror + All Expansions is probably not a great game to bring to a restaurant. Bring games that fit on the tables and still leave room for plates and glasses. Remember too, that cold drinks sweat, food dribbles, and the game cards/boards/pieces can get damaged from moisture/syrup/spills. We've actually got a set of games specifically for playing in restaurants.

    So I've been giving the whole question of what makes a good gaming bar/pub/restaurant, and have come up with the following shortlist of criteria.
    1. Lighting. It sucks when you can't tell what colors are on the board.
    2. Noise. Low ambient noise so that you can hear the game being played.
    3. Big tables. You need room for the board AND all that beer!
    4. Noshie finger foods. Ever tried to eat spaghetti and play a game on a small table simultaneously?
    5. Prices. I'm sure Canlis would be happy to seat well-tipping gamers all evening but it's nice to get out of there for less than your entire paycheck.

    I'm really curious about other opinions about this. Do you go out and game at restaurants very much? Would you if there were more gamer friendly restaurants out there?

    Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
  • courtneyjcourtneyj Registered User regular
    I've heard that Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle is friendly for people sitting around drinking beer for hours...there's no food there but you can bring your own in. They have a cabinet of board games and allow pets, so it sounds pretty relaxed.

  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    Capitol Club hosts a gaming night in conjunction with Gamma Ray Games.

  • KaneBlaireauKaneBlaireau Registered User regular
    Also, Seattle Wargaming is generally up for open gaming of whatever brand you like. Notification is always good in case of a large group, but they are very accommodating!

  • AkumakeiAkumakei Registered User
    Big Time Brewery on the Ave in the U-District has tables large enough for gaming. I haven't used it for such as of yet, but I'm planning to soon. (yay for gaming-capable pubs being only a block from my office!)

  • LadyPorphyryLadyPorphyry Registered User
    Chao Bistro in Cap Hill does boardgaming every Monday night, and Starcraft 2 on Wed/Sun. It's a pretty game-friendly place other nights of the week, too.

  • bitterfunbitterfun Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    ON the north end of Capital Hill, the Roanoke Tavern is run by a gamer and is more than happy to see people playing games in his bar. I got bonus points for playing Blood Bowl there.

  • ClixClix This guy I know Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    I'm pretty jelous. None of the bars on Kitsap Peninsula have anything like this. They just cater to any 'ol alcoholic, no nerdness required.

  • LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
    Imsorad wrote:
    I'm pretty jelous. None of the bars on Kitsap Peninsula have anything like this. They just cater to any 'ol alcoholic, no nerdness required.

    We went to that gaming store in old town Bremerton recently, and mentioned to the owner that he should consider the game-pub model (seeing as how his store was half empty). He immediately started dissing the AFK for being a 'poor business model' and had nothing but bad things to say about the idea. In his empty store. In Bremerton.

    I totally feel your pain. Next time I'll go to one of the 10,000 bars in the area and mention the idea there instead.

    Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
  • AkumakeiAkumakei Registered User
    Ha. Well, I'm sure the Bremerton local bars get a lot of frequency from the local Navy base, but that sounds like a #winning plan to me.

  • grungeboxgrungebox Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I live in Capitol Hill so my biases are evident. I'll comment on some others and add a few more. TL;dr -- Chao Bistro in Capitol Hill is my favorite.

    Stumbling Monk:
    They have games like Monopoly, Scrabble, cribbage, things like that. You won't find Euro games. Also, booths tend to go quick, and tables are quite small. But it's an awesome beer bar, so that makes up for other things. It is quite dark inside.

    Seattle Wargaming:
    I occasionally play CCGs here. It's a decent place with lots of tables, and it's usually open really late, well past midnight. They don't have a game library, it's more bring your own. It's less a game store than a game-playing space, bring your own food/drinks. I don't think alcohol is allowed, but I doubt they really care.

    Capitol Club:
    They do lots of stuff with Gamma Ray Games across the street. They have a fair number of tables, it's dimly lit but not super dark. Saturdays are Magic nights there, I think they do some sort of D&D thing there on Tuesdays, but I'm not really into D&D so I don't know. Their food/drinks are awesome.

    Chao Bistro:
    Probably the best bet. They've become something of a "geek/nerd bar" on Pike/Pine. As mentioned, they show Starcraft 2 on the TVs, and every Monday they do boardgame night (disclosure, I'm friends with the guys that run the boardgame night). They have pretty decent food and drinks as well, the back room has lots of tables and is well-lit with limited noise. Tuesdays are trivia, I think, but other nights it should be wide open.

    Captain Black's:
    They have only a few well-lit tables, but I played games with some friends there a few weeks back and had a good time. They have good food and drinks, but the food is horrible for you (chicken and waffles, bacon-filled pancakes, stuff like that). Not super loud, either, and the bartender was actually telling us they like having gamers over. I guess a couple of years ago they used to do Magic nights, so they have a history of accommodating gamers.

    Big Time:
    Big Time is quite loud, but they have tons of tables. I've seen people playing Small World and Settlers here before. During the school year it gets even louder, though, just a warning.

    B&O Espresso:
    Some Reddit people do a game night here Mondays. I've never been to game night, but the place itself seems well-suited. They have great desserts and it's a relaxed atmosphere.

    grungebox on
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  • JobiwanKenobiJobiwanKenobi Registered User regular
    (Note: the Wayward Coffeehouse in Greenwood is closed due to fire damange and will not reopen :( )

    LexiconGrrl, don't you know that no power in the 'verse can stop them? The Wayward Coffeehouse will be opening at a new location at 65th and Roosevelt kind of late-October-ish.

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  • AkumakeiAkumakei Registered User
    65th and Roosevelt?! I'm THERE!

  • LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
    (Note: the Wayward Coffeehouse in Greenwood is closed due to fire damange and will not reopen :( )

    LexiconGrrl, don't you know that no power in the 'verse can stop them? The Wayward Coffeehouse will be opening at a new location at 65th and Roosevelt kind of late-October-ish.

    You know it's a nerdy discussion when your boyfriend leaves you posts on a forum.

    Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Not a Fictional Character Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Capitol Club/Gamma Ray Games' D&D stuff is on Wednesdays ~6:30pm-8:30pm - they hold one of the Encounters tables there, in addition to the one or two tables in Gamma Ray itself (where you'll find me most weeks, sometimes as DM).

    CC/GRG tend to hold events before and during PAX now, too, so are good for PAX-goers to look into next year.

    Incenjucar on
  • LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
    Thanks for all the suggestions everybody, this is great!

    Question for anyone out there: If there was a Cafe Mox (aka Card Kingdom) or AFK style place in a different area of Seattle proper - good food, good drinks, game themed - would you hang out there?

    Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
  • AkumakeiAkumakei Registered User
    If it were in U-district, I would probably be there every night.

    I'm really not kidding.

  • BigRedBigRed Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Yeah if there was an AFK style place in seattle (nearish major bus areas) id probably go there often... Maybe even host some things (lol LAN in a cafe?) there.

    <MoeFwacky> besides, BigRed-Worky is right
  • LigerLiger Registered User regular
    If there was an AFK on the east side I'd be there all the time.

    I know it's not a geeky place, but for the past two nights I've been playing Magic at the Bellevue Paddy Coyne's. Good beer, decent pub food, and tables big enough for two card games each.

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  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    I was talking with the owner of the AFK and he said the reason they were in Everett was because they would run afoul of King County's gambling laws... Basically booze + establishment provided cards and/or dice meant you were a gambling parlor and had to pay all sorts of different taxes and shit. If he's right it would explain why such places are hard to find in Seattle, they're either flying under the radar or have unreasonably high operating costs.

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  • LigerLiger Registered User regular
    It's not even limited to establishment-provided cards/dice. I tried to play Magic at a Shari's once and they threatened to kick us out.

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  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Moderator mod
    edited September 2011
    Shit, when I was in jr. high they wouldn't let us play Magic or any other sort of card game, citing the same gambling concerns. Didn't matter if the game was Poker, Magic or Go Fish.

    Granted, that wasn't in this state, but still.

    Moe Fwacky on

  • LexiconGrrlLexiconGrrl Registered User regular
    Ah, the Republic of Washington.

    Happily on Sabbatical. Don't bug me.
  • AkumakeiAkumakei Registered User
    And yet we still get all sorts of crappy mini-casinos all over the place. Of course, they're all in Shoreline so they're juuuust out of the city limits...

  • LigerLiger Registered User regular
    Card rooms are legal as long as the owners pay the proper (high) taxes - the same taxes that keep places like AFK out of Seattle. The bigger casinos are all on reservation land.

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  • zephsrightzephsright Registered User regular
    Gamma Ray Games is opening a gaming cafe on Capitol Hill in the space that is currently (and soon to be no longer) occupied by Traveler's. I believe it will be open shortly before PAX.

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  • MelceneMelcene Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    For fellow South-Ender's.... Dorky's Bar Arcade in Tacoma. Can't say I've been there yet myself, but at least there's SOMEthing on the south end.

  • courtneyjcourtneyj Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    This just got funded on Kickstarter. I didn't back it so I don't have any of the updates on it though.

    They want to be open by August 1st though.

    courtneyj on
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