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.
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.
Corner Pocket takes its title as a sports bar very seriously. Hooked up to 15 satellite receivers, the nearly 10,000-square-foot bar's 35 flat-screen televisions constantly air games, from baseball and hockey matches to ultimate-fighting bouts. The TVs surround eight balls sinking into the pockets of 16 billiards tables and darts striking the bull’s-eyes of six dartboards. Not to mention balls rolling into goals on a foosball table, pucks gliding along a shuffleboard and gamers competing on Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation consoles.
But amid all its emphasis on sports, Corner Pocket never loses sight of its bar duties. Domestic and imported beers from 14 taps pour into pints, mugs, pitchers, or directly into patron’s mouths. Along with wine, the brews complement Corner Pocket's classic approach to bar food, which includes Angus beef burgers, chili-cheese corn dogs, and housemade potato chips. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. daily, so patrons can celebrate their team’s win until the wee hours or dance the night away to karaoke on Sundays and Thursday or live music on Saturdays.