Play while you dine: Game board cafe now open


Keira Wingate | The DePaulia

An inside view of the new Logan Square game cafe.

Chicago Board Game Cafe officially opened its doors on Valentine’s Day, with a multitude of visitors booking the entire weekend in anticipation of the unique gaming entertainment and high-end cuisine. 

This restaurant, located in Logan Square near Bucktown, offers a vault of over 500 different board games, both old and new, with interactive table games that entail “gaming concierges” to help visitors play, and narrative-based escape rooms available for booking. 

The building’s atmosphere is designed in many different interior styles. Fluorescent string lights and greenery interface the beowulf-like drinking tavern, decorative structures are modeled like a European town square and elements of Chicago can be spotted in window murals.

“It’s meant to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time,” said cafe co-founder and Director of Games and Retail, Eric Garneau.

Reservations are recommended, as the standard experience is to order your food, then afterwards, a game concierge will visit your table and help you learn “games on tap.” This is a series of seven different games that are easy to learn and fun for both large groups or even just a table of two. Some games, like “Someone has Died” include elements of improv. 

“I loved the cafe!” said restaurant guest Quinn Rose. “I went there on a date night and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be as fun with two people, but the game masters directed us to multiple two-person games that were incredibly engaging.” 

Up to 16 visitors can venture through the escape rooms, which are creations of the House Theatre of Chicago. “The Last Defender” escape room has previously run around Chicago and Toronto, but will permanently run at the cafe. If you’re a fan of galactic adventure, nuclear war games, and 1980’s computer graphic nostalgia, “The Last Defender” is the perfect choice. “Nova to Lodestar” will be available for guests in a few weeks, and is more of a science fiction-based experience. 

This is Chicago’s first full service board game restaurant, inspired by other interactive experiences like Chicago’s Safehouse restaurant and Disney World’s Epcot. Garneau spoke about the cafe’s origin story, and how Cards Against Humanity co-creator and cafe co-founder, Max Temkin, “has always wanted to make a space that involved game and food, because those are the things that bring people together.” 

The menu consists of food from Vietnam, Mexico and Spain. Some stand out dishes are Bún with Chicken, Basbousa Financier butter cake, or sweet snack dishes like Marcona almonds and chocolate. 

  “I think some people are thrown by the menu because it’s not what they would expect from a gaming restaurant,” said Garneau. “The menu is stuff that our food and beverage team, headed by Aaron McKay and Evan Behmer, ate on their world travels that made them feel at home. It’s unfussy, global comfort food.” 

The cafe is open from 4 p.m. to midnight everyday except Monday, but looks to expand for brunch hours in the near future. Stop by for just a drink at the bar, or a night full of light-hearted rivalry and fun.