Billiards

Having drinks not enough for you? How about a little friendly competition at the table? We've searched out the best places to play pool in New York, and we tell you where to rack 'em and shoot 'em. Expect a mix of novices and experts playing eight-ball and other variations of the game during busy nights out. Marvel at the skills on display at places like Prohibition and Amsterdam Billiards, or test your own mettle with a game of one-pocket and, just maybe, a friendly wager.

10 Alligator Lounge
Brilliant topaz blue walls and pink flamingos are just some of the odder aspects of the Alligator Lounge's decor. But who cares? It's the quintessential chill-out spot. Open booths and a pool table make it easy to congregate with friends (old and new) and just relax. The place attracts a diverse crowd — no doubt influenced by the fact that they dole out free personal pizzas (straight from a wood-fired oven) with every drink. (718-599-4440)

9 Slate
The best place to shoot eight ball in the Flatiron, Slate also happens to feature a New American dining room and an ultra-cool VIP lounge area (called PLUS), a living room-inspired space with contemporary furniture, plasma screens, hardwood floors, and a terrific sound system. What really makes Slate stand out, though, are its 30 or so gorgeous pool tables. Well spaced and professionally maintained, they're a sight to behold and a pleasure to play. TRAIN: F, V to 23rd St-6th Ave; N, R to 23rd St-Broadway; 6 to 23rd St-Park Ave; 1, 9 to 23rd St-7th Ave (212-989-0096)

8 Fat Cat Billiards
Live music and games: What more could be better? This basement-level dive, associated with jazzy Smalls on West 10th, is as classic as they come. There are no frills, no fancy themes, no cleverly-named cocktails. What attracts the West Village crowd to Fat Cat is its simplicity — it's a great place to relax with friends and catch a terrific jazz act, and it's an even better place to play backgammon, ping-pong, pool, or (gulp!) chess. TRAIN: 1, 9 to Christopher St (212-675-6056)

7 SoHo Billiards
Not really in SoHo (it's north of Houston, actually), this pool hall doesn't complicate things by trying to mix in pulsating F/X shows, loud music or over-zealous doormen. No, SoHo Billiards is what it is: A cool, laid-back place where you and your friends can toss back a few, shoot some eight ball, and not empty the coffers doing it. TRAIN: B, D, F, V to Broadway-Lafayette St; 6 to Bleecker St (212-925-3753)

6 Amsterdam Billiards
One of the city's — some would say the country's — most distinguished billiard clubs, Amsterdam is handsomely dressed with blond wood partitions and sleek, contemporary sensibility (straight, defined lines, sharp geometry and semi-private sitting areas with flat-screen TVs). Co-founded by comedian David Brenner back in 1989, the classy place has been written up in numerous rags and featured on a handful of TV shows, including "Letterman" and "Good Morning America." TRAIN: 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, W at 14th St-Union Sq. (212-995-0333)

5 Max Fish
Located between Houston and Stanton Streets, this bridge between the hip East Village and the Lower East Side's hot lounge scene is the favorite watering hole of neighborhood artists and barflies alike. The bar frequently hosts exhibits by local artists and intimates a very bohemian feel. However, on the weekends, the crowd becomes a little more mixed as Dockers-clad Uptowners and students descend upon this artists' haven. Check out the jukebox, with a music selection as diverse as the clientele. TRAIN: F to 2nd Ave (212-529-3959)

4 Mona's
Priding itself on its dark and rather dingy décor, Mona's draws folks that favor alternative rock, cheap drinks and endless games of pool. The interior is stripped down and simple, adorned only with vintage portraits of greats — including Malcolm X and Babe Ruth. TRAIN: L to First Ave; N, R, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St-Union Sq (212-353-3780)

3 Dusk Lounge
There's no sign marking this storefront, hidden away between 6th and 7th Avenues, and that, of course, is part of the place's appeal. The diverse, sophisticated clientele — everybody from artists and musicians to ad execs and hip singles — deems Dusk the neighborhood's most distinctive bar. In fact, it may just be one of sexiest speakeasies in Manhattan. A mirror-mosaic extends along one wall to the front of the space, and the restrooms have earned ink for the sleek two-way mirrors that afford clear views of the bar. To the rear, you'll find a pool table and comfortable couches. TRAIN: A, 1, 2, 3, 9, C, E to 23rd St (212-924-4490)

2 Solas
Enjoy a game of pool and your favorite drink--this spot's renowned for great Guinness, expertly prepared margaritas and powerhouse Red Bulls! Expect some DJ action every other Thursday night and a well-heeled, enthusiastic crowd almost every night. The laid-back yet upscale attitude exudes from the warm interior, which consists of light wood tones, oranges and reds. TRAIN: N, R to 8th St-NYU; 6 to Astor Pl; L at 14th St and 3rd Ave (212-375-0297)

1 Prohibition
Don't let the name throw you, for the drinks at this spacious Upper West Side bar flow fairly freely. Popular with the neighborhood crowd, Prohibition offers patrons plenty of activity — billiards, several televisions and even a few live jazz acts on occasion. As the evening wears on, the bar tends to get loud and the pick-up lines even more desperate. In the warmer months, you can enjoy your drink and even a few of their delicious appetizers on the outdoor patio. TRAIN: A, B, C to 86th-Central Park West; 1, 9 to Broadway (212-579-3100)


From Our Partners

Maps and Directions

2
Slate 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Lounge
Neighborhood: Flatiron District
3
Fat Cat Billiards 10Best List Arrow
Type: Live Music, Lounge
Neighborhood: West Village
4
SoHo Billiards 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours
Neighborhood: Noho
5
Amsterdam Billiards 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: UNION SQUARE
6
Max Fish 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Lounge
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
7
Mona's 10Best List Arrow
Type: Late Night / After Hours, Live Entertainment
Neighborhood: East Village
8
Dusk Lounge 10Best List Arrow
Type: Lounge
Neighborhood: Chelsea
9
Solas 10Best List Arrow
Type: Late Night / After Hours, Lounge
Neighborhood: East Village
10
Prohibition 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours, Live Music
Neighborhood: Upper West Side