Let the games begin ... at the restaurant
August 3rd, 2012
01:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

It was an all-Chinese women’s final this year in Olympic table tennis, and Xiaoxia Li took the gold. (In fact, China has won 22 of the 26 gold medals since table tennis was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1988.)

Whether you’re feeling inspired by China’s dominating Olympic performance or just want to get away from a long, boring conversation at the dinner table, here are several spots where you can eat great crispy prawns and improve your skills at table tennis or other games, like shuffleboard.

And for those with an eye toward the 2016 Olympics, here's some inspiration: The US has not a single table tennis medal to its name.

The Game: Ping-Pong
The Place: Ace (Denver, Colorado)
The full name of this newly opened Asian restaurant and Ping-Pong hall is Ace Eat Serve. Their commitment to the sport is real - this isn’t a place where there’s one old table in the corner with missing paddles and a dented ball. Ace’s menu includes pan-Asian hits ranging from tom kha, a coconut-spiked soup, to chile prawns. They also have an ambitious bar menu, including Scorpion punch bowls and a specially made beer brewed with orange blossom honey.

The Game: Bocce
The Place: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace (Washington, DC)
The menu at this DC restaurant is straightforward. Chef Jeff Black is obsessed with oysters, which he serves simply on the half shell with a choice of sauces that includes Dive Juice, a spicy cilantro vinegar. He also offers a good selection of pizzas and a daily special, from Taco Night Tuesdays to Hoagie Saturdays. The upstairs bar, Black Jack, houses the indoor bocce court with 19 stadium seats to watch the game. The No. 1 bocce court rule: Order a round of drinks for your team prior to the start of play.

The Game: Miniature golf
The Place: Brooklyn Crab (Brooklyn, New York)
Another brand-new spot with a commitment to sports you play rather than watch on a big screen in the bar. Among the advantages of being in Red Hook, the very cool but also hard-to-get-to Brooklyn 'hood, you have stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. You can take advantage of unconventional modes of transportation, including the Ikea water taxi and a small yellow school bus that picks you up at the closest subway station. Plus, there’s room for things like an 18-hole pro-am putt-putt course, which costs $5 to play. Brooklyn Crab also has three cornhole courts, which is basically like playing horseshoes with bean bags. The menu, unsurprisingly, is dominated by seafood, including steamed or grilled lobster and Old Bay-steamed Maryland blue crabs.

The Game: Shuffleboard
The Place: Sunshine Tavern (Portland, Oregon)
Jenn Louis, a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2012, installed a 14-foot shuffleboard table at her excellent tavern. Gamers can also take advantage of vintage Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong arcade games. The tavern has occasional shuffleboard tournaments, and the next one is scheduled for early September. If you’re between tournaments, you can practice your shuffleboard skills - or you can dig into dishes like the hen-egg pizza with Parmesan or the fried chicken on yeasted semolina waffles.

The Game: Bowling
The Place: Mission Bowling Club (San Francisco, California)
This six-month-old spot has a menu from chef Anthony Myint (who is famous from the similarly named eateries Mission Street Food and Mission Chinese Food). Myint makes superior comfort food, and the signature dish is the Mission Burger: a half-pound of aged meat that’s seared in beef fat and topped with Monterey Jack cheese, grilled onion and caper aioli (SF Weekly called it the best burger in the city). As for the bowling part, there are six lanes and a just-launching league. The club also has an outstanding bar (drinks include the TBD made with mezcal and jalapeño jam), so the place is 21 and over, except on weekends before 7 p.m.

More from Food & Wine:

America’s Best Bars

Best Beer Bars in America

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Summer Grilling Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Olympics • Restaurants • Sports


soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Truth™

    I've lived in Denver for almost twenty years, and have never been to Ace. Will have to check it out soon.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  2. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    I've won gold at Pocket Pool every Olympiad since 1981

    August 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
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