Like any major capital city, Toronto has a very healthy café culture with countless establishments peppering its streets and vying for your custom. Yet in recent years a new spin on the ‘coffee and chill’ vibe has seen the growing shift towards board games being available in your favourite latte haunt, with these places becoming somewhere to participate in some serious competitive gaming action with friends.
So here we take a look at some of the best board game cafés in Toronto, and what they gave to offer…
489 College St, Toronto (647) 342-9229
With currently four locations across Toronto, Snakes and Lattes is rapidly becoming a behemoth in the board game café world, and has recently expanded into the US as well as being credited with the rapid rise in popularity of similar establishments around the globe.
One of the first board game cafes in Toronto, since opening in 2010, owners Ben Castanie and Aurelia Peynet have grown the brand and it continues to be a top draw for game lovers: $5 entry gets you access to shelves filled with over 1,500 games (for play and many for purchase) along with baristas-stroke-instructors, while for drinks it’s a warming choice of teas, a specialist ‘drip coffee’ plus the usual raft of lattes and flat whites, while a small but perfectly formed menu includes in-house baked items. One of the leaders of the pack.
3216 Yonge St, Toronto (647) 350-6700
For the Win can be found on Yonge Street, and offers a welcoming, casual atmosphere that owner and gamer Michael Chung works hard to maintain.
Here the games and refreshments receive equal status, with a huge choice of things to play – classics like Battleships and Monopoly jostle for space with crowdfunded one-offs and rarities – and an excellent choice of artisanal coffee, bubble tea, soft drinks and juices, as well as sandwiches, fries and tasty snacks such as muffins and cookies.
Throw in a whole host of beers, cocktails and slushies and For the Win is bright, roomy and fun – and for $8 per person, it’s all yours for the entire day.
1187 St Clair Ave W, Toronto (647) 346-7060
With an enormous selection of board and card games – 2,500 and counting – Spielhaus Board Game Café offers more than enough to lose yourself for a few hours as you plough through Warhammer with a group of buddies.
Boasting a brilliant pop art interior melded with industrial-style painted brick walls and piping, it’s an enjoyable space to while away an evening at just $6 to ‘stay and play’. There are competitions and tournaments each Tuesday, trivia nights where prizes and awarded, and a weekly guild of Dungeons & Dragons adventurers.
For fuel, Spielhaus serves lunch, dinner and drinks throughout the day, including that all-important caffeine jag of coffee.
797 Dundas St W, Toronto (416) 971-4263
Owned and run by uber-gamers Derek and Gary Fung, A-Game Café isn’t the largest of spaces – it seats just over fifty people – but it more than makes up for this with the incredibly warm welcome you will get from its knowledgeable staff. A clean-lined, contemporary space with a host of games, the emphasis here is on fun and community spirit, with local artists’ pieces hanging from the walls and a great selection of crowd-pleasing food and drinks to enjoy as you play. Prices vary depending on the time of day, but $8 will get you unlimited time to sit and thrash out a Settlers of Catan strategy, or you can stay and play per hour for $4.
347 Keele St, Toronto (647) 853-9892
Described as ‘a place to celebrate geek culture’, See-Scape – located a stone’s throw from the Junction – is a hybrid hangout for art lovers, coffee drinkers, music aficionados… and gamers of all stripes. There’s something for everyone here, with a fab sci-fi themed interior, plenty of craft beers and cocktails, the chance to belt out some karaoke tunes, plus an array of board games. There are 200 to choose from, from classics to contemporary faves, and the venue hosts cosplay, special events, magic shows and more, making See-Scape something of a mini Comic-Con. $10 will get you a day’s worth of geek greatness, or you can pay by the hour ($5).
2183 Danforth Ave, Toronto (416) 666-8875
A large and glorious entertainment cave, Time Capsule is spacious and packed with things to do. Inside its walls you will everything from foosball to ping pong and VR set-ups, while the board gaming on offer is a little different, in that rather than pile ‘em high and hope for the best, the staff at Time Capsule have put in the effort to carefully choose a selection of favourites and classics. Entry is $6 for unlimited use of the facility, which is a relaxed and relaxing environment and offers various alcoholic and soft drinks plus a small but tasty menu filled with hearty items such as nachos, burgers and party snack trays.
579 Yonge St, Toronto (647) 344-2637
Not only do you get to play board games here, but you can take part in your own, real-life adventure within the escape rooms available to enjoy. Even if you don’t fancy becoming one of the Wasteland Warriors in the post-apocalyptic escape room setup (one of four scenarios to play through), you can dive into The Café area which offers board games aplenty, along with a selection of video games plus drinks and tasty snacks. And the clincher? There’s no cover fee for board gaming, so you can sit and play to your heart’s content without having to pay a single dime.
Bampot Bohemian House of Tea
201 Harbord St, Toronto **
Board gaming at Bampot is just one part of a lovingly crafted overall experience – from the décor to the extensive, specially curated tea selection, everything has been put together with love and passion, with the aim of creating a ‘public living room’ for all to enjoy. A small but perfectly formed community space, Bampot is funky and eclectic and packed with entertainment, from live music to collections of local art and even an in-house library – and you can game in a purpose-built area designed for large groups of friends. A real gem.
Crossroads Board Game Café
258 King St N, Waterloo (519) 781-4358
Six dollars gets you unlimited time in this large and colourful café bar, located just across from Wilfrid Laurier University. Plenty of tables and banquettes pack the place, while at the rear there’s an impressive library of board games along with a console gaming area with a smattering of widescreen televisions. The staff are great, they occasionally dish out free snacks – always a winner – and it has a homely, casual feel that means it’s easy to lose many hours here.
1374 Queen St E, Toronto
Knowledgeable, friendly staff, the welcoming feel – it has a great fireplace – of a friend’s living room, plus board games, coffee and comics to read at your leisure? If those are what you’re after then The Sidekick has them in spades. This Leslieville store is a hybrid comic/coffee venue of exposed brick, wood floor and hand-painted murals, and urges you to come to hang out with them – they offer a range of hot and cold drinks, plus pastries and snacks delivered fresh daily, so you’ll never go hungry as you while away the time poring over your favourite issue of The Walking Dead.
Storm Crow Manor
580 Church St, Toronto (416) 367-2769
Board games aplenty are available here, but when people visit Storm Crow Manor they come for the experience. And what an experience. This is nerd heaven: set in a beautifully restored Victorian mansion it is a thing of beauty, packed with themed rooms evoking classics such as Star Wars and Twin Peaks, hidden areas and secret passageways, along with a restaurant, ‘The Shining bar’ and endless things to entertain you. Think of a sports bar but swap out the sports for films, TV shows and all things geek culture, and you’ll understand how much of a great time Storm Crow Manor can be.
So next time you’re looking for a different evening out with friends, consider a trip to one of these board game cafes in Toronto.