Billiard sports, also known as cue sports, have been around for hundreds of years. Since the 1600s, people have played billiards in various forms, and the games still remain popular, with what could even be considered a cult following today. Pool is by far the most common and most popular of the sports, but there are still enthusiasts playing carom and even snooker at some of the billiard tables on this list. While you can find tables in bars all across Minnesota, for varying fees and accessibility, the smoothest felt tabletops, unlimited chalk and straightest cue sticks can be found at the following bars.
1013 Front Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103
Halftime Rec is an old-school, pure St. Paul bar with all the charm you could ask for. This North End dive was featured in the movie “Grumpy Old Men,” and, coming soon, it will serve a new and improved menu courtesy of the guys at Chef Shack. And yes, it’s a fantastic place to play a game of pool. It’s roomy, so you don’t have to worry too much about your stick hitting someone else’s, and there is always someone there (usually a classic old-timer who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve) to play a game with. If you get tired of pool, there is also a full bocce ball court in the basement.
1111 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Both the downtown Minneapolis location and the Roseville location of Grumpy’s have pool tables and plenty of room to play. The downtown location is especially competitive, so wait in line and get in on the action. One of the rare places in downtown with free parking, it can be a great place to start or finish your evening. There are typically events, from live music to karaoke, to complement your pool-playing experience, and the food and drink specials never hurt either.
Sporty’s Pub and Grill
2124 Como Ave. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
As the name implies, there are a lot of games to play at Sporty’s. Located near the U of M campus, there are drink specials for students, and the clientele is typically made up of a younger crowd. It’s a casual, fun place for pub food, a pitcher of beer, a few laughs and, of course, a good game of pool. It’s always fun to put cocky frat boys and trust-fund kids in their place by whooping them at the billiard table.
Related: Best Pool Halls in Minneapolis
2021 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
As an Uptown mainstay since 1963, Liquor Lyle’s has seen its fair share of patrons, kind and unsavory, rich and poor, beer drinkers and boozers. Chances are, they’ve all played pool. The charm of Lyle’s comes not only from its history, but the great prices, friendly staff and an always interesting cast of characters to shoot a game of pool with. In a true “Hustler” setting, Lyle’s is Uptown’s go-to for a crazy night of billiards.
Keenan’s Bar and Grill
620 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Unlike the other bars on this list, Keenan’s is a quiet, neighborhood dive where you won’t have to wait in line or fight for your turn at the table. As a completely unpretentious dive bar, Keenan’s is as welcoming as they come, and the friendly, often hilarious staff will surely make your visit one to remember. If you’re just looking for a good game of pool with a few friends while enjoying strong drinks and surprisingly awesome burgers and Coney Dogs, Keenan’s might just be the best bet on this list. Throw on some tunes from the classic, retro jukebox and rack ’em up.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.