Where to Play Board Games and Card Games in Chicago

Updated December 5, 2018

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Connect Four, Jenga, Operation, Scrabble, Boggle, Battleship - there are hundreds of great games to play with tasty food and drinks to keep your brain on task.

The Bonus Round Game Cafe originally hosted pop up board game nights at bars and coffee shops around town, and is now Chicago's first dedicated board game cafe. There is a free weekly board game night at MTG Card Market but BYOB is not allowed. Want to find a Magic the Gathering tournament or get weird with friends playing Cards Against Humanity?

Game night doesn't always have to be a night at home, especially with the selection available at Chicago's bars, breweries, and coffee shops. When you're looking for some light competition, look no further than these establishments, where you can enjoy a good beverage and play board games or card games.

Guthrie's Tavern has a tower of board games including chess, Yahtzee, Balderdash, Pictionary, Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, Battleship, Stratego, Boggle, Connect 4, Apples to Apples, Jeopardy, Risk, Candyland and Sorry (to name a few). If you're not playing a game, you're an anomaly at this local hangout serving micro brews and beer flights.

Photo: Vice District Brewing

Photo: Vice District Brewing

Pair craft beer with the game selection at Vice District Brewing in South Loop, where you can also bring your own food and four legged friends.

Scrabble, giant Jenga, and Twister are among the game selections at 3 Greens Market in River North.

The Full Shilling is not only a great spot to watch a Cubs Game or cheer for the Clemson Tigers, they also have giant Jenga. You can really get into giant Jenga at Streeters Tavern, as well as Weeds Tavern or Wise Owl.

Keenan O'Reilly's is a neighborhood bar with a regular sized Jenga set.


What do Chicago, Monte Carlo, Brugges, and Porter, Indiana have in common? Monthly backgammon meetups.

Nordstrom Michigan Avenue was featured in our post about where to shop and drink, and is also home to the Chicago Backgammon Meetupgroup’s monthly session - the first Wednesday night of the month in the Nordstrom Cafe. In addition to weekly gammon, American Tap is a great place to watch the Hawks, UFC, or play video poker. See the map below to find the best places to play a pickup game in Chicago - keep in mind World Backgammon Day March 20th. Alibaba Hookah Bar is the only place we found to pair backgammon with bevvs (BYOB, tea…) and belly dancing. For organized events and meetups in Chicagoland and beyond, check out the Chicago Point calendar. Chicago Point is the best local authority on all things Backgammon, and holds weekly and monthly events at Giordano’s in Morton Grove (among other locations). They also hold charity events such as a benefit tournament for the Anti-Cruelty Society.


Photo:  Game Room

Photo: Game Room


Chess not only a strategic endeavor, but a bonding community activity for all ages. Chicago is home to many great coffee shops and other venues where you can play chess with a cup of coffee in hand.Harold's Chicken in West Loop is serving more than fried chicken and Rosé, they've also hosted some hungry chess players. The Game Room at the Chicago Athletic Association downtown has a very nice row of chess/checkers tables.

Dollop Coffee & Tea in Buena Park/Uptown has both chess AND chess pie, not to mention Battleship. Dollop brews local Metropolis Coffee, and has partnered with Hoosier Mama Pie Company to sweeten your day.

Pilsen's Kristoffer’s Cafe & Bakery is a quiet, homey place to play chess. It's difficult to say which is more delicious, the tres leches or specialty coffee drinks, but we can all agree that Kristoffer's is one of Chicago's best coffee shops, particularly for relaxing with a good book or moving that rook. Brewing Intelligentsia Coffee, Kristoffer's has a full menu to try while you ponder your next move with a cup of joe in hand.


Julius Meinl in North Center is be the best place to have a Vienna Game. After your opening moves, peruse the menu of traditional Viennese coffee and pastries - this authentic cafe has such a great ambiance it's like being transformed to the imperial city!

Java & Mug Cafe specializes in desserts and other sweet treats such as Patbingsoo, a Korean shaved ice dessert. Java & Mug hosts a wide variety of board games to play and is a great family-friendly destination in North Park.

If you're looking for a friendly neighborhood destination, Cafe Ballou is a guaranteed place to get a cup of coffee and a smile in the Ukranian Village/West Town area. In addition to the cozy, cheerful atmosphere, Ballou serves Passion House coffee and offers chess and other board games to play. They have a great selection of wraps, pastries and desserts, and have a book shelf if you'd like to read between games of chess.

Cafe Mustache has made the transition from beloved local coffee shop to coffee shop + alternative music venue + bar. Check out their transformation into their neighboring Logan Square space here. Despite their love of live music, you can still find a place of solitude to catch a game of chess while sipping a cup of Bridgeport Coffee. You can also wash down their signature homemade chili with a local craft beer. Cheers!

Speaking of Bridgeport Coffee...visit any Bridgeport Coffee Company for great coffee, and specifically the flagship location (in the Bridgeport neighborhood) for playing chess, reading on the patio, or coworking.

Jackalope Coffee & Teahouse is another Bridgeport option with Metropolis Coffee and a whole lot of personality. Check out their musical performances, featured local artists, and fun events - at a recent 'Drawmageddon' a local artist offered to draw patrons as a Simpson character! Grab a Doh!nut or something from Pleasant House Bakery to accompany your chess match. They also have Stumptown cold brew to enjoy while you play.

Any pacific northwest transplant will love this Seattle themed cafe in Lakeview, which rocks nonstop indie music. Emerald City's food menu is nothing to be ignored either - their breakfast tacos go great on your plate while you seek check mate!

dark matter.jpg

Around the corner from Dark Matter's roastery in West Town is a multi-story wonderland of coffee shop greatness. Star Lounge boasts a fantastic outdoor patio (pictured above), and has plenty of room to tuck into a sandwich, write a novel, or of course, strategize your next chess move.

Last but certainly not least is Iguana Cafe, a European coffee and sandwich shop where you can also find delicious crepes (Nutella anyone?). While you can catch a chess game any time, this location has also been used as the official Chicago Chess Meetup destination.