Cuetopia Billiard Cafe offers a haven from 9-to-5 grinds and with frosty beers and friendly games of foosball, darts, and pool. Beef hot dogs and polish sausages steamed in beer and served on freshly made Roma Bakery rolls deliver a taste of Chicago as satellite sports packages stream on a big-screen TV. While guests enjoy more than 40 different brands of beer, the crack of professional-grade balls reverberates across the felt of 25 Brunswick tables.
At this all-ages venue, eight-balls sink into upwards of 165 pockets inside South First Billiards, which houses nearly 30 9-foot pool tables. But they only take up a fraction of South First's 14,000-square-feet: the rest plays host to ping-pong and beer-pong tables, as well as foosball and air hockey. Despite the potpourri of games, South First isn't just a gaming venue. Rotating pieces by local artists adorn the walls, while an eclectic lineup of musicians, from rockers to rappers, grace the stage on live music nights. South First's bartenders complement any activity—whether playing, looking, or listening—with 12 microbrews on tap, as well as fruity and chocolaty handcrafted cocktails.
Picture a pool hall. Wood-paneled walls catch the light of suspended billiards lamps, which illuminate clusters of tables—19 of them to be exact. And these tables are not kiddie sized or Astroturf topped; these are regulation tables: fit for aimless amateurs and seasoned professionals alike. This is Fast Eddy's Billiards, where fun-seekers can revel not only in friendly and competitive games of pool, but also at dartboards, foosball tables, pinball machines, and beer-pong setups.
A former billiards professional still hangs around this scene, giving newbies a crash course on the basics of pool play. Above the din, neon signs rattle off the names of domestic and imported beers—available by the glass and by the pitcher—and a kitchen attendant preps bar-style snacks such as jalapeño poppers, onion rings, chicken wings, and breaded zucchini strips. Free WiFi can occupy compulsive email senders, and an Internet jukebox keeps carousers bopping with tunes of choice.
If Blue Cue doesn't look like a typical pool hall, that's because it isn't. The billiards spot doubles as a restaurant, and nearly everything about it?from the bright blue pool tables to the sleek couches propped against exposed-brick walls?contributes to an atmosphere that's classy and upscale without being pretentious. That atmosphere carries over to a menu of comfort foods headlined by charbroiled burgers, hot dogs, and New York-style pizzas. Pair any of the above with a drink from the bar, such as a draft of seasonal Sierra Nevada or signature blue island punch.
The best pool halls keep it simple: fresh green felt on the tables; cues that haven't been warped by age or splintered by bar room jousters; pitchers of beer on tap with neon signs to match. And, of course, a jukebox, preferably one with Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" or George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone." These are the basics of a good pool experience, and Hot Shots Billiards has got them down pat. The 22-year-old establishment is a paradise for players tired of hunting down pool tables in the back of noisy bars and staking claim over them with guttural growls. The pool hall treats players to Monday night 8-ball tournaments, Wednesday and Friday night 9-ball tourneys, and Thursday night specials for ladies. Besides the bevy of maintained tables, Hot Shots also sports ping-pong tables, comfort foods such as tacos and nachos, and lessons for novice players.