Pub Games 101
Instead of hibernating this winter, head out to one of the city’s finest watering holes for thought-provoking games — and a good time.
Photo by John Altdorfer
When the air turns frigid, we Pittsburghers head indoors. But the cold doesn’t make us antisocial, for across the city, friends gather in local haunts for pool, dart leagues and bowling. And thanks to some creative gamesters, there are more inventive feats of brain and brawn, even in the comfort of your neighborhood pub.
Pinball / Long before digital entertainment, there was pinball. It’s incredible how much agony and ecstasy can be derived from a few ball bearings and a pair of flippers. You can still find machines all over the city — from Lawrenceville’s Cattivo (cattivo.biz) to Gooski’s in Polish Hill. But pinball’s pub capital may be Regent Square, with machines in Murphy’s Tap Room (murphystaproom.com) and Dunning’s Bar & Grill.
Trivia Night / While craft beer and memory recall aren’t necessarily compatible, trivia night remains entertaining. Competitors divide into teams, an emcee asks the questions over a loudspeaker and, one by one, the correct answers are counted. Rarely is a sports bar more hushed than on trivia night, as teammates whisper their best guesses. Trivia spots include Cappy’s Café (cappysonwalnut.com), The BeerHive (thebeerhive.com), The Modern Café (themoderncafe.com), The Park House (parkhousepgh.com) and Hough’s Bar & Restaurant (houghspgh.com). Remember: No smartphones — just smarts.
Video Games / Pac-Man machines reached their zenith in the mid-1980s, and since then, the refrigerator-sized two-bit video games have become true ghosts. But tabletop video games linger on at Max’s Allegheny Tavern (maxsalleghenytavern.com) and Le Mardi Gras (lemardigras.com). One game? A few quarters. Nostalgia factor? Priceless.
Shuffleboard / When most people think of shuffleboard, they envision sunburnt suburbanites on ships. But at all three Silky’s Pub locations, the pleasures of shoving a puck across lacquered wood are untold. Competition gets heated on busy nights, so if you’re not sure about the rules, printed guidelines are available on request.
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA / When everyday people hear the word “opera,” they usually think of busty women in horned helmets. Whether they know it or not, this image comes from The Ring Cycle, Richard Wagner’s spectacular epic about dwarves, river nymphs and a hero incapable of fear. If you’ve ever yearned to see this German masterpiece, look no further than the Oaks Theater. Thanks to its Opera in Cinema series, the Oaks will screen The Ring Cycle for general audiences. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a nosebleed seat, you can amble down to Oakmont for a showing, no tuxedo required.
Opera in Cinema lets you share these opuses with other opera fans or even just curious noobs. These expertly photographed performances are about as close as any enthusiast will get for $20.
(310 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont; Nov. 11 and Nov. 13; theoakstheater.com)