Going for coffee or drinks has become a cornerstone of our social interactions. We go with family, friends, on dates, even for meetings.
But if we’re always doing the same things, sometimes it can get a bit boring. So where do you go if you want more than just coffee or drinks? I have found some cool places around Melbourne (Australia) that I believe deserve more attention than they get. They offer a range of different game experiences (with some bonus books and karaoke).
WINE BAR: Willows & Wine
For all you book and board game lovers, Willows & Wine is the perfect place. Offering a range of second hand books that span many styles and genres, there’s something for every reader; and if you find one you really love you can even purchase it. They also offer a great range of board-games catering to groups of any size.
Their food menu is short and sweet, but you can bring in outside food if you like. Their drinks menu is where it’s really at, though. With a large variety of wines, available by the glass or bottle, beer, and cider. For those who don’t drink alcohol they have a range of options for you too.
Notably though, their cocktail list is inspired by some famous and favourite fictional characters. Featuring a range from Lady Montague, to Winnie the Pooh, to the Mad Hatter. An absolute stand out though is their Dumbledore’s Butterbeer, a hot buttered rum that is both delicious and strong (so beware). This drink is perfect for anyone looking to warm up from the cold or take a step into the world of Harry Potter.
You can find them on Instagram and Facebook. They are located right by Queen Vic Market, at 315 Victoria St, West Melbourne. With Queen Vic currently hosting a book market (every Sunday until December 15) it makes for a great afternoon outing.
BAR: Pixel Alley and Mr Wow’s Emporium
Great for retro vibes and the gamer in you, Pixel Alley is host to a whole range of arcade games, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and pinball machines. The games cost $1-$2 a play or you can spend $15 to get 20 tokens (worth $1 each), for good value. If you head there on the last Tuesday of every month you can join their pinball tournament for a chance to be listed as a winner on the pinball scores.
Their drinks too are themed, offering bubble cups and cocktails named after some classic games, as well as beer and wine options. Though they don’t offer any food.
Pixel Alley is located at 95 Smith St, Fitzroy, and you can find them on Instagram and Facebook.
If you head up the stairs at the back of Pixel Alley you will find yourself in one of their sister bars, Mr Wow’s Emporium.
Mr Wow’s offers more games of a different variety. Featuring Pool, Table Tennis, Foosball, and more. Their drink options range from classic to eccentric, along with beer and wine of course. Though again there is no food, Mr Wow’s also offers a more rustic feel with more seating to be found than downstairs.
A little trick I discovered, try to start the game without paying as sometimes you may not need to. As with the Foosball machine, I got many rounds out of it without paying, though whether this is by chance or intentional, I couldn’t say.
Located up stairs at 97B Smith St, Fitzroy, they have their own entrance as well as an entrance at the back of Pixel Alley. Find them on Instagram and Facebook.
CAFE: Queen of Spades
Just down the road from Pixel and Mr Wow’s is a cafe offering yet another gaming experience. Queen of Spades is a cafe turn bar with a large food and drink menu. Offering brunch and burgers, coffee and cocktails, (and more,) they will suit a visit any time of day.
Spread over two levels, there’s ample seating and board games to go around. Groups of any size will find games to play, with new games being added regularly, take a stroll down memory lane or learn something new. Note that they charge $5 p/person to play unlimited games, think of it as a seating charge so even if you don’t order any food or drink the cafe can make a profit so they can keep providing new games and fun times.
They also offer games nights and events which you can check out on their website, under the events subheading. If you find a game you love they have new versions of some of them available for purchase in the cafe too.
You can find them at 189 Smith St, Fitzroy and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Asian food: Marche
Back near Queen Vic Market is another board game hub, offering karaoke as well. They offer a Taiwanese menu heavily inspired by the board games on offer, and their drinks look just as fun as the games. “Eat like a king” and “drink like a queen” their menu states, whether this is a reference to chess or a bold statement about their menu, it sure seems true.
For gaming without the food, its $15 a head for 3hrs (including a drink). Karaoke can cost from $22-$38 p/person depending on the day and time; with different combinations of min. amount of people, max. amount of time, and inclusive food and drink. The karaoke is held in private rooms so there’s no need to be shy, but if you want to mingle you should check out their social event page on the website.
They’re located between Melbourne Central and Queen Vic Market, at 63 A’Beckett St, Melbourne. You can also check out their Instagram and Facebook.
So there are 5 recommendations of places to go when you want something just a little more than plain old coffee or drinks, whoever you’re with. I highly suggest checking them all out!