Over the last several months, I’ve written a lot of posts for this blog about places that serve drinks. I’ve told you about the city’s best terasses (and explained that that is French for “patio”), Irish Pubs and, more recently, where the best places in Montreal are to go bowling. The next logical step, if there is such a thing in the nightlife department, is to tell you where the best places to play pool in Montreal are…
Before launching into a list of my favourites, I could write a little intro paragraph about what it is uniquely special about playing pool in Montreal. Besides the fact that some of them do serve poutine, let’s be honest: pool is pool. In fact, one of the things that makes pool so popular is that it’s pretty much the same everywhere. Moreover, there seem to be some basic categories that seem pretty constant no matter where you are:
The Google Friendly Pool Hall: As the title suggests, these are the places that pop up first when you go a Googling. They tend to be the big chains or at least the ones the most tech-savvy staff. For Montreal, that begins with Sharx (1606 Ste Catherine W.), the massive entertainment zone with bowling, bars and tons of pool and snooker tables. It should be noted that Sharx is routinely voted as the cities’ best and, given its massive size, you’ll never have to wait for a table. There’s also Sharky’s Club De Billard (9394 De L’Acadie), because apparently owners of pool halls are not very original when it comes to names. But the problem with looking for pool halls this way is that you will be inevitably pointed towards places like the Montreal Pool Room (1200 St-Laurent), which has not actually had any pool tables in several decades. What it does have, however, is one of the Montreal’s best hotdogs- of the cheap and steamed variety.
The Proper Pool Place: These are the places to go when you have a serious night of pool planned. The places where people bring their own cues and where you may receive offers to “make the game more interesting”. Fat’s (1635 Rue Sainte-Catherine W.) is just this kind of place. Located near Sharx, it’s cheaper, smaller (8 tables) and contains entirely less neon than the pool behemoth across the street. The Skratch Billiards chain has several locations in and around Montreal (the Brossard and Laval locations are probably your best bet), are fully stocked for pool and snooker tables and regularly host both amateur and pro tournaments. They also have wet t-shirt contests sometimes, but that’s for another post. A final great choice is the Boul Noire (551 Mont-Royal E.), located in the very cool Plateau neighbourhood. It is by far Montreal’s “coolest” pool place, though it wins almost by default as being cool does not seem to be a large concern for pool hall owners.
Bars that happen to have pool: I think the title pretty much covers it: these are great bars that happen to have some pool tables kicking around. Since the plan here is probably to play a couple games before heading out on the town, let’s approach this category with a night out in mind. If you are on St-Laurent, Frappe (3900 St-Laurent) has several tables on the go and you can almost always grab one. In the “only one or two tables so might as well have a couple beers” category, both Bifteck (3702 St Laurent), Copacabana (right beside Frappe) and Barfly (4062A St-Laurent) are great choices. (Barfly, being a tiny venue with great live music every night, allows you to play and see the stage at the same time). If you find yourself a little further up on St-Laurent, Les Bobards (4328 St-Laurent) always has some lively games on the go. And if you’re in the Gay Village, the massive Drugstore (1366 Ste-Catherine E.) has enough tables to host players of every sexual orientation under the sun.