Denver's Top Spots for Billiards, Bites, Good Music & Good Friends

Photo courtesy of Pints Pub
By Christine Loomis, Denver Local Expert

Billiards encompasses a variety of different games played with a cue and balls on a felt- or worsted-wool-covered table, including American-style pool, Snooker and billiards. Pool as we know it in the United States is played on tables with pockets, thus it's often referred to in other countries as pocket billiards. Traditional billiards is played on tables with no pockets. Pool is typically played with one cue ball and 15 colored striped and solid balls; Snooker is played with 22 balls. However you describe it or play it, billiards is an engaging and social pastime that can be as challenging or just plain fun as you wish. It always goes well with beer and game-oriented gatherings, which is why you find it in brewpubs such as Pints Pub and bars where group games are front and center, such as Punch Bowl Social. Add interesting food and music to the mix–e.g. Czech dishes at Sobo 151 and Cajun Cuisine at Lincoln's Roadhouse–and that's all the better. Billiards draws legions of players from young to old. However you play it and whatever accompaniment you desire with it, there's a Denver billiards hall for you. 

10. Hanson's Grill & Tavern
Photo courtesy of Hanson's Grill & Tavern

Hanson's is a traditional laid-back neighborhood bar and restaurant at the north end of Old South Pearl, convenient to both the Platt Park and Wash Park neighborhoods. Two bar-size pool tables wait upstairs for Hanson patrons and they're free all day every day–what could be better than that? Maybe the fact that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays happy hour runs from 11 a.m. to midnight or on Sunday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. kids 12 and younger eat free. There's a back patio to enjoy in warm weather, and Hanson's has its own (small) parking lot off a street where parking doesn't come easy. Don't miss the excellent house-made pork green chili.

9. Lincoln's Roadhouse
Photo courtesy of Lincoln's Roadhouse

If you love Cajun food, blues, rockabilly and pool, this is your place. No frills, down-and-dirty-but-oh-so-friendly Lincoln's Roadhouse puts it all together in between the Wash Park and Platt Park neighborhoods, right off of I-25. You can play on the two pool tables for a highly affordable 75 cents a game, a nice match for the also highly affordable drinks and food. It's not quite Louisiana, but if you've been craving Cajun classics, the jambalaya will suffice nicely. Locals in the know have honored Lincoln's Roadhouse over the years with good reason. It was voted Best Dive Bar in 2009 by 5280 and Best Blues Club by Westword in 2011. And there's pool....

8. Punch Bowl Social Denver
Photo courtesy of Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social is the place for a group of friends who like lots of games. There's just one pool table but there's also bowling, ping pong, darts, bocce, corn hole, foosball, marbles, vintage arcade and pinball games and giant magnetic wall scrabble. Did we mention the private karaoke room? The cost for pool is $10 per hour, except during Monday Game Night. If you want to bring the kids in to play some of your fave old-school games, do it on the weekend when Punch Bowl Social opens at 8 a.m. and serves up brunch. There's plenty to love on the menu every other day and night, too. Note: Take a look at the "punch bowl graveyard" above the bar, where all the vintage punch bowls go to die–or at least to be displayed.

7. Pints Pub
Photo courtesy of Pints Pub

Pints is a traditional British pub with two bar-size billiard tables on the main floor right in the middle of all the pub action. Tables are played using a $1 token per game. There's a ton of British memorabilia on the walls to remind patrons that this is a traditional UK pub in many ways, but Pint's is very much a local watering hole, too. It's known for its authentic cask-conditioned or "live" ales, and it claims to have the largest single malt Scotch and whiskey selection outside of Britain. Lamb stew, fish & chips, fries (chips) sprinkled with vinegar and salt and trifle bring a taste of Britain to the menu that also includes burgers, salmon, salads and sandwiches.

6. Sobo 151
Photo courtesy of Kate Martin/Sobo 151

This Czech-owned sports bar has a European vibe and generous selection of Czech beers. Patrons come to play pool on three tables, which are free with a purchase until 6 p.m. and 75 cents a game after, or to challenge themselves at Pac-Man, trivia and karaoke. You can catch an Avalanche game for sure, but soccer is front and center. The bar televises the UEFA games–European football, that is, especially Czech matches. The time difference isn't an issue: Sobo 151 opens at 7 a.m. on game day if necessary. Happy hour runs weekdays 3 to 6 p.m., plus Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. What goes with Czech beer? European faves such as potato pancakes, schnitzel, chicken paprika and beef goulash, and the kitchen also serves up traditional U.S. pub staples including chili, hamburgers and wings.

5. Skylark Lounge
Photo courtesy of Skylark Lounge

Skylark has been serving Denver customers since 1943, and it keeps on evolving. Head up to Skylark's Pair O' Dice Poolroom, which Billiards Digest voted one of the nation's top three new poolrooms when it opened in 2006. There are three Brunswick Anniversary billiard tables and two smaller bar tables available for play, though be aware that leagues play at Skylark Lounge on Thursdays. In addition to billiard tables, Skylark features a 22-foot tournament size shuffleboard court, two dartboards and a Rock-Ola Peacock jukebox, along with a lot of vintage artwork and photographs, including a museum-quality poster collection. When you're not playing pool, head downstairs for live music and dancing.

4. Zanzibar Billiards Club
Photo courtesy of Zanzibar Billiards Club

Zanzibar Billiards offers 12 Brunswick Gold Crown billiards tables plus a slew of other fun games to play, including four-person air hockey, shuffleboard and video games. If you buy something to eat or drink, pool is free until 7 p.m. The menu is primarily pub grub with a bit of Mediterranean flair, such as the falafel burger and chicken shish kebab. As is true at its sister billiard hall, Tarantula, happy hour here runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. On Friday and Saturday evenings pool costs $10 per hour. Zanzibar's daily $5 bar specials sport cool pool names like the Hustler, the 8-Ball, the Corner Pocket, the Break and the Trick Shot.

3. Felt Bar
Photo courtesy of Felt Bar

Felt, as its name suggests, is very much about billiards. It has more than 20 tables, both coin op and not, seven to nine feet in length, plus one Snooker table. Leagues play several nights each week. But billiards is not its only draw. Felt sports 13 flatscreen TVs and shows every NFL game every week, so no matter where you come from and which team is your hometown team, you can watch them play here. Felt also has foosball, darts and video games, and features 10 beers on tap. There are also early and late-night happy hours many nights, and Monday is Ladies' Night, when the bar offers $1.50 well drinks and Bud drafts to all women. Felt's eclectic menu features all-day breakfast, Mexican, pizza, salads and more, and it's available for dine-in and take out if you don't have time for a game.

2. Wynkoop Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Wynkoop Brewing Company

Back in 1988 when Governor John Hickenlooper was an entrepreneurial beer lover who apparently saw the craft beer movement coming, he and three friends opened Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver's first craft brewery. Occupying one of the city's oldest buildings, Wynkoop offers three distinct areas. The ground floor is a family-friendly pub-style restaurant with a traditional menu of pub grub and other eclectic favorites. On the lowest level, the Impulse Theater group presents wickedly funny improv to sold-out audiences. And on the upper level are 17 Diamond pool tables, making Wynkoop the largest pool hall in Denver. Also available are two dart lanes, two shuffleboard tables and two foosball tables. If the tables are full, just sit back and enjoy some of Wynkoop's 40-plus styles of beer. Pool is free weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evenings and weekends it's $3.50 per person, per hour.

1. Tarantula Billiards Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of Tarantula Billiards Bar & Grill

Fifteen Brunswick Gold Crown billiard tables provide plenty of opportunity for pool lovers to play here. In addition to the billiard tables, Tarantula also offers Foosball, four-person air hockey, shuffleboard and video games to keep patrons entertained, not to mention some 20 beers on tap. Pool is free during the week. On Fridays and Saturdays, it costs $10 per hour per table from 7 p.m. to close. This is an age 21 and over establishment so don't plan on bringing the kids along. Tarantula's Happy HOUR is somewhat of a misnomer given that it runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and is billed as the "Longest happy hour in the world."