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Photo by Vishal Malhotra.

During a lull in our itinerary while visiting Tulsa recently, some old friends and I stumbled upon a “board game bar,” a full-service bar and cafe with a large selection of tabletop games. We wandered inside, and the next thing we knew, we were scrambling to pay the bill and make our dinner reservation on time. We had accidentally spent hours at the place. For the rest of the night, we lamented that our hometowns didn’t have such a concept. 

Fast-forward a few months, and Fort Worth does now have its very own board game lounge. Game Theory (804 S Main St, 817-203-4217) opened last month in South Main Village (“Game On,” July 17, 2019) and has quickly drawn a following of board game geeks, young families, and anyone looking for an above-average gastropub experience. 

For those wondering what the point might be of going to a bar just to play board games you can play at home, well, for one thing, the game selection puts the average person’s closet collection to shame. An impressive array of 500-plus games, many I’d never heard of, lined the shelves as we entered the airy space, where tables of various sizes formed a semi-circle around a small but well-appointed bar. On a recent weeknight, the place was packed, though there was no wait for a table.

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Game Theory also offers more than your average game night fare of chips and dips and grocery store wine — and its staffers do all the cleanup. My party indulged in several of the housemade mini-pies, while my low carb-loving friend was a fan of the sausage plate. I was pleasantly surprised to see gluten-free bread as an option for the sandwiches. Even the experience of ordering food and drink was part of the fun, as our party was equipped with a handy device we could use to call someone over to the table. At the press of a button, all of the servers –– a’hem, Game Guides –– received an alert via a gadget on their wrists, and whoever was available would head on over to see what we needed. The gadget made for prompt and attentive service throughout the evening. Honestly, all bars and restaurants should implement them, this being the 21st century and all. 

We were aided in choosing from the overwhelming game selection by our handy Game Guide, who was impressively knowledgeable considering it was her first day on the job. She recommended a cutesy low-stakes game called Battle Sheep, a unique and modern twist on Checkers that my group thoroughly enjoyed.

The fun-and-games theme extends to the playful cocktails, conceptualized by in-house mix master Adam Hoang. I ordered a Zarrow Shuffle (named for a magician’s trick), a fancified margarita accompanied by a giant ice cube colored blue with a natural dye that turned my drink various shades of purple as I drank it. Gimmicks aside, it was a refreshing and well-balanced marg. A friend opted for the Panther City, a vodka gimlet that featured charcoal, its jet-black color mimicking that of our city’s mascot. My husband gamed the system with the best deal on the menu — the Get out of Jail Free shooter, a “three-move combo” of Jameson whiskey, pickle juice, and a generous pour of Deep Ellum Dallas Blonde, all for $5. In addition to cocktails, there are numerous local beers on draft and a smattering of wines.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the nifty cupholders provided by our Game Guide that clipped on to the side of the table so as not to waste any valuable gaming space. Touches like this helped to elevate the experience from any home game night. 

Game Theory is a welcome addition to the now-blossoming South Main scene — a friendly place to pass the time and grab a drink, where families and tabletop aficionados play in harmony. And best of all, now I never have to go back to Tulsa. 

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