Playing a good game of pool just might be the other American pastime. While the shadow of Fenway looks on, many Bostonians spend their time in between Sox games locked in stiff, steely-eyed competition with their mates at any one of the city’s countless pool halls. Whether it’s a low key and casual first date idea, or a booze-fueled night out on the town, the pool hall lives on as a go-to destination for nightly and weekend shenanigans alike. Here are five of the city’s most celebrated places to rack up the fun.

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File (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy)

Columbia Billiards
558 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 265-1828

Dorchester is known for many things, but pool halls probably isn’t one of them. It’s certainly not known for hosting one of the most vintage billiard spots in the nation. This is exactly what defines Columbia Billiards, however. Geared toward serious pool aficionados, Columbia Billiards may not win any awards for hot shot, fashionable decor, but that really isn’t the point behind this place. Nope, at Columbia Billiards the table is the canvas, the cue the brush, the player the artist and these sharks play for keeps. Don’t get your hopes up for booze or DJ sets in between gigs––Columbia is all about pool and pool only. So sharpen those skills before tackling this hard-nosed joint!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bowl)

Boston Bowl
820 Morrissey Blvd.
Dorchester, MA 02339
(617) 825-3800

Boston Bowl Family Amusement Center is yet another Dorchester destination which has won the hearts and financial support of countless fans throughout the city, and with good reason: this is simply one of the area’s most well rounded places to rack it up. Clean, well-tended tables are just the beginning for Boston Bowl. The venue is open 24 hours a day for your billiard, gaming and bowling pleasure, with a friendly staff which does its very best to take care of Boston Bowl’s crowded weekend nights. If you do have to wait, however, be patient: this one is worth it, if only to feel what it’s like to knock one in the corner pocket at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.

(Photo Credit: King’s/Facebook)

King’s Bowling, Billiards and Lounge
50 Dalton St.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 266-2695

Located within Boston’s Back Bay, King’s Bowling, Billiards and Lounge is extremely well regarded by most locals who visit, yearning for a throwback to the gaming halls many of us frequented as children. King’s features its own billiards room filled with Brunswick Gold Crown tables. Games can be rented out for just $10 before 6 p.m. and $14 into the evening. A unique cross-selection of folks venture into King’s–you’re likely to find just as many 20-something college kids as you are clientele into their 30s and 40s—and the joint can admittedly become quite crowded on the weekends. However, if you’re looking for great billiards, great bowling and some old school arcade action (Pac-Man and Galaga, anyone?) to go along with your dinner and drinks, King’s is well worth the wait.

(Photo Credit: Flat Top Johnnies/Facebook)

Flat Top Johnny’s
1 Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 494-9565

We’ve saved one of the best for last with the Kendall Square destination of Flat Top Johnny’s. This place is, quite frankly, one of the most popular pool joints on either side of the Charles, with legions of fans and admirers across urban and suburban lines. Often crowded due to the cheap beer (how do three dollar Narragansetts sound?), Flat Top Johnny’s has never failed to pack in its clientele, even when the occasional three-hour wait is in effect. Although pro pool sharks will likely object to how close together these tables are – often resulting in bumped buns and crossed cues – there’s no denying the appeal and draw of Flat Top Johnny’s.

George Pacheco has been writing professionally about arts and entertainment for over a decade. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, George currently resides in a humble New England home with his wife, cat and massive music and film collection. His work can be found at