Dine on street food-inspired entrees while you shuffle the deck or roll the dice.

By Jelisa Castrodale
October 24, 2019

A couple of years ago, Notre Dame sociology professor Daniel J. Meyers tried to figure out how to play the shortest possible game of Monopoly. After what can only assume was a mind-numbing amount of research—and a lot of time spent passing Go—he determined that an entire game could theoretically be played in 21 seconds, after nine rolls of the dice, and four turns split between two players. Although that's probably not going to happen the next time you slide the box off the shelf: that outcome only seems to happen in one out of every 253,899,891,671,040 games. But if you can't be done with the entire thing in under a minute, the next best way to play Monopoly might be over dinner in a new Chicago restaurant.

Paul Strabbing

The team behind Cards Against Humanity—that somewhat subjective and completely hilarious party game of oddball associations—announced that they've started taking reservations for the city's first board game cafe, which has been cleverly named The Chicago Board Game Cafe. Although the first available reservations aren't until January 10, the restaurant has already promised an internationally-inspired menu as well as a fully stocked library of more than 300 board and card games.

"We've been making games for almost 10 years now, and we've seen that games, food, and theater have an incredible capacity to bring people together and create community," Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin said. "It has been our dream for a long time to do a really ambitious version of a game cafe and share it with people. We hope it doesn't fail in an embarrassing fashion."

Paul Strabbing

Each table reservation is for two hours, which should give guests time to start one of the games from the cafe's collection, which is housed in a former bank vault inside the building. Classics like Monopoly, Scrabble and (of course) Cards Against Humanity will be available, and if guests are interested in playing something new, the cafe will have a number of on-site teachers who can make recommendations and go over the rules.

"The gaming scene isn't necessarily known for being the most welcoming or inclusive community, but we really want to turn that on its head," said Eric Garneau, the cafe's Director of Games and Retail. "We think that games are for everyone, and we're really excited to teach people their first board game, or run their first [Dungeons & Dragons] campaign."

Paul Strabbing

The entrees will be priced from $14 to $60, and the menu has been inspired by "markets and sidewalk cafes" in Mexico, Spain, and Vietnam. Although the cafe declined to make its full menu available, a spokesperson told Food & Wine that its opening offerings will include pork and queso-topped Huaraches, Bún Gà Nuong, Kebab Halabi, and Nam Tok Neua, a salad made with grass-fed beef.

Johnny Knight

In addition to board and card games, the cafe will also be the home to two different escape rooms created by the non-profit House Theatre of Chicago. In the Cold War-era Last Defender, participants have 90 minutes to "save the world from total annihilation," while the futuristic Nova to Lodestar involves an interstellar rescue mission.

Honestly, this might be the only place where Monopoly actually seems...fun.

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