Bellied up to the bar, your spirit of fun — and competitive nature — usually rises in direct proportion to your loss of inhibitions. Quite a few bars in RVA are making the most of that fact by including games, activities and events right alongside the drinks and eats. You’ll find everything from wall-to-wall TVs for watching your favorite teams to poker, arcades and board games, plus entertainment such as drag shows and line-dancing bartenders.
Savannah Gignac (foreground) shoots pool at Greenleaf’s with friends, left to right, Spencer Joynt, Dana Fraser and Paul Dunbar while visiting from Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Short Pump Pour House
3438 Pump Road, 364-9083
If you can’t find a good game on the 20-plus TVs, there are plenty of other games to keep you occupied at this sports bar. While you wait for your burger or wings, play cornhole, pool or darts. Golfers can even participate in a game of virtual golf or practice their actual skills on the putting green.
6101 Brad McNeer Parkway, 744-1077
While the full-service restaurant and bar, arcade games, and bowling alleys downstairs are open to everyone, the grownups have The Rotunda upstairs all to themselves after 6 p.m. It’s there you’ll find 14 alleys and four pool tables along with music, dancing and socializing. And on game day, come back to root for your favorite team on the more than 60 screens around this Chesterfield venue.
Line dancing and buckets of beer at Daisy Dukes (Photo by Jay Paul)
Daisy Dukes & Boots Saloon
11045 Hull Street Road, 349-0451
Hankerin’ for some country music, a bucket of beers and some boot scootin’? This Midlothian bar, which plays primarily country but offers a good musical mix, provides line dance lessons on Tuesdays, cornhole tournaments on Thursdays and Sunday mornings, and pool all the time. However, the highlight of this spot is the bartenders and servers who dance on the bar and stage. Monday is Ladies’ Night, when the cowboys take the stage.
New York Deli
2920 W. Cary St., 358-3354
Don’t let the name fool you. In addition to the perfect Reuben, there’s also plenty of fun to be had at this Carytown deli and dance spot, including Dungeons & Dragons tourneys and other games on Sundays, Tuesday trivia, poker on Wednesdays, and karaoke on Thursdays. You can also test your skills at an arcade game or snap a pic in the photo booth.
GREAT LIVE MUSIC: The Tin Pan, 8982 Quioccasin Road, 447-8189; Vagabond, 700 E. Broad St., 643-2632; The Savory Grain, 2043 W. Broad St., 592-4000
Penny Lane Pub
421 E. Franklin St., 780-1682
Prefer not to idly swill your beer and eat your fish ’n’ chips? At this downtown British pub, you can take the mic for karaoke on Mondays, play Texas Hold ‘Em on Tuesdays or Thursdays, or compete in the Pub Trivia Night on Wednesdays. And on one of the TVs, there’s always a live or recorded football match. (That’s “soccer” to us Yanks.) Bonus: Find a full English breakfast on weekend mornings during English Premier League games, when in season.
Greenleaf’s Pool Room
100 N. Sixth St., 303-7102
Granted, many bars have a pool table in the corner. But Greenleaf’s is all pool, all the time — you won’t even find any TVs here. Around the corner from the historic Hotel John Marshall (now apartments), this charmingly retro downtown poolroom features a dozen pool tables and a menu that’s an updated spin on classic luncheonette fare. While Monday is league night, there are still tables open to the public.
Babes of Carytown
3166 W. Cary St., 355-9330
While there’s plenty of dancing going on inside, this LGBTQ-friendly bar also has a sand volleyball court out back where you can play a pickup game or enjoy some cornhole, weather permitting. Babes, which serves everything from a good cheese steak to a fine brunch, hosts line dancing on Tuesdays, karaoke on Wednesdays, and live drag shows on Thursdays, the fourth Fridays and third Sundays of every month.
203 N. Lombardy St., 355-3008
Music ranges from pop to post-punk at this dance-party destination, where you can also take in some live comedy a few days a month, or classical music, often on random Sundays, all while savoring top-notch Indochine fare in a stylish lounge atmosphere. You’ll also find unique events such as “Hand to Hand” haiku tournaments popping up on the bar’s calendar throughout the month.
Be sure to call or check the bars’ online calendars before heading out.