Food & Drink

Become Detroit's Most-Honored Bar Athlete on This 10-Stop Bar Crawl (With Sports!)

Published On 08/04/2016 Published On 08/04/2016

Garden Bowl


Sport: Bowling
Where else would a Detroit bar/sports crawl start but at the oldest bowling alley in the country? Detroiters are all about bowling, so it’s only logical that we begin with the quintessential Motor City leisure activity. And Garden Bowl is the place to do it. Grab a High Life and challenge your buddies to a beer frame (only bowler not to get a strike has to buy the beers) at one of the 16 lanes. For the ultimate Detroit bowling experience, go for Rock-n-Bowl, where the music blares and the lanes glow in the dark.

Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar

Thomas Magee's

Eastern Market

Sport: Foosball
If there are any reformed frat bros on your team, here is their time to shine. Thomas Magee’s sports a foosball table with a great view of the action at Eastern Market as well as an impressive selection of whiskies. That whiskey may slow down your reflex time, though, so maybe your strategy should include buying a shot for your competitor, since this is an endurance event, after all. And while you’re reliving the glory days at good old Delta Tau Chi, you can catch just about any Detroit sports team on the big screen TVs.

Third Street Bar


Sport: Ring toss
It’s simple: there’s a metal ring on a string and a hook on the wall. Your goal is to swing the string and hook the ring. Easy, right? Nope. It’s utterly maddening. This event will challenge your patience and the extent of your expletive vocabulary, so you may want to take a break for some Dangerously Delicious Pies to fuel up for the next event.

Courtesy of Z's Villa

Z's Villa

New Center

Sport: Sand volleyball
OK, you’re off to a good start, but now it’s time to get serious. Since this one is an actual Olympic sport, try not to embarrass yourself too much in front of the pros on the court judging your every spike and stumble. Z’s has open volleyball every Saturday, or you can check out Come Play Detroit for league action on Mondays and Fridays.

Northern Lights Lounge

New Center

Sport: Shuffleboard
No, not your grandmother’s shuffleboard. This one’s a tabletop game played with skill and nuance on a wooden board lined with tiny little silicon beebles. There’s no prettier place to play it than at Northern Lights, with its funky, retro-themed couches and warm interior. Try a lavender-infused French 75, or stick to beer mode, since you’re only halfway through your decathlon. But, hey, you’re halfway through! Steady on, champion!

Courtesy of Buddy's Pizza

Buddy's Pizza

Northeast Detroit

Sport: Bocce
If you can swear like an Italian grandpop, here’s your chance to shine. The original Buddy’s, originator of Detroit-style pizza, has a gorgeous bocce ball court out back. Be prepared to test your mettle against the old-school players there, who take no crap from newbies and will let you know exactly how unskilled you are. Fun fact: the smaller "target" ball is called the pallino, and there’s nothing more satisfying than that little plonk when the bocce nestles up against it.

Courtesy of Fowling Warehouse

Fowling Warehouse


Sport: Fowling
Never heard of fowling? Where have you been? Fowling is a genius combination of, duh, bowling and football. You throw a football at some bowling pins and try to knock them all down. It’s easy enough in concept, but even the best armchair quarterback can make an ass of him- or herself. Fowling has a gargantuan bar and a "Mystery Beer" vending machine for the bold and the brave, which of course you are. Keep on the alert for the bonk signal, and COVER YOUR EARS: it’s a rescued cruise ship horn, and can be heard from across Conant.

Cadieux Cafe

East Side

Sport: Feather bowling
Cadieux Cafe is a Detroit institution, and if you’ve never been there, you need to go now. The Belgian sport of feather bowling has a strange history of its own: originally, contestants rolled giant wheels of cheese after a feather to see who could come the closest to the feather. The banked sides of the alley make for some interesting physics and plenty of challenge. Cadieux has open and league nights (and some drop-dead delicious mussels, too). If feather bowling is good enough for The Smithsonian, it’s a must on our Bar Decathlon.

Stonehouse Bar

State Fairgrounds

Sport: Horseshoes
To celebrate your victory over the mussels and the feather, head to the recently reopened Stonehouse, former haunt of Prohibition-era gangsters. Horseshoes is an old-school game best played at an old-school bar, with grizzled bartenders and black-painted walls. For your penultimate event, imagine you’re tossing the shoe with the Purple Gang, rumored to have run booze from here in the '20s.

Courtesy of New Way Bar

New Way Bar


Sport: Skeeball
You did it! You’re on the final event of the great Detroit Bar Games, so if your hand is still steady enough, give your favorite childhood game a go. It’s a good way to round off (pun intended) the evening, listening to a live band, or trying your not-so-sober hand at open mic night on Wednesdays.

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1. Garden Bowl 4104-4120 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Live music, cheap drinks, killer pizza, and bowling, most importantly -- you really can’t go wrong with Garden Bowl. This Midtown spot is one of the oldest bowling alleys in the United States, and its longevity is a testament to the good times that abound here. The glossy, well-maintained original wooden lanes and the retro-chic neon backlighting throughout give the place an endearingly divey feel, one that keeps Detroiters coming back time and time again on weekends.

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2. Thomas Magee's Sporting House Whiskey Bar 1408 E Fisher Fwy, Detroit, MI 48207

Donning a weathered, old-timey look, this young bar carries a whiskey-heavy beverage menu of over 100 different brands of the brown liquor, bottled brews, and a few beers on tap. There's not much food apart from salted nuts and chips, but the easygoing management will let you bring in outside food. Flat screens play "every sport, every game, every fight" and, while there's not much in terms of trendy foods or cool crowds, Magee's purist's mentality keeps the crowds coming during and after all sports events.

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3. 3rd Street Bar 4626 3rd St., Detroit, MI 48201

This midtown dive bar dabbles in all the classic lowbrow fixings, like darts, a jukebox, and remarkably cheap drinks not lacking in liquor content. The food selection is a notch up your usual counter grub, especially during brunch hours, when tables get stacked with plates of homemade pop tarts and french toasts made with thick-cut challah. Weather permitting, you can enjoy it all on the garden patio.

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4. Z's Villa 42 Piquette St, Detroit, MI 48202

Imagine Z's Villa as the most down-to-earth frat house you've ever visited. That's what this darkened three-story bar looks like from the outside, and how it'll feel when you're mingling with friends out back, which is where you'll find most of the crowd on any warm-enough day. This locally famed outdoor patio sports group-friendly picnic tables, and for the more ambitious socializers, a beach volleyball court and horseshoes.

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5. Northern Lights Lounge 660 W Baltimore St, Detroit, MI 48202

This New Center spot is a veritable hipster mecca: warm retro furnishings, artful and affordable specialty cocktails (lavender-infused French 75, anyone?), a selection of Midwestern craft brews, and -- last but not least -- a sprawling outdoor patio, complete with shuffleboard to stimulate competitive socialites. If you’re here for the buzzing weekend brunch instead of one of their live music nights, consider arriving on the earlier side of things: the dirt cheap mimosas here are no secret, and seating fills up quick.

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6. Buddy's Pizza 17125 Conant St, Detroit, MI 48212

Lauded as one of the best pizza joints (and now, chain) in the nation, Buddy's Pizza is known for its iconic Detroit-style pies baked in cast iron pans. The celebrated joint has been perfecting its pizzas, salads, and soups since 1946, and now serves them alongside a beer and wine, and dessert menu. To help you make room for additional slices, the restaurant even offers a bocce court right next door.

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7. Fowling Warehouse 3901 Christopher St, Hamtramck, MI 48211

Combining elements of football, bowling, and horseshoes, fowling is an original Detroit-born game that's found enthusiasts in athletes and non-athletes alike and is now headquartered in this Hamtramck space. The whopping 34,000 square foot warehouse contains all of 20 lanes, two bars, big screen TVs, and a stage. And while beer, wine, liquor, and bar snacks can be had, most diners will compensate for the amiss food menu by ordering in pizza.

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8. Cadieux Cafe 4300 Cadieux Rd, Detroit, MI 48224

Flemish culture thrives at this Motor City staple, as evidenced by the robust collection of Belgian beers, the frequent crowd of “featherbowlers,” -- the equivalent of Belgian bocci, essentially -- and, like any self-respecting Belgian-themed bar, fresh steamed mussels, served daily. The Cadieux Café started as a Prohibition-era speakeasy, and it’s still kicking today, supported by community veterans who come for the culture and young folk who swing through to enjoy live entertainment until the wee hours of the morning.

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9. Stonehouse Bar 19803 Ralston St, Detroit, MI 48203

This bar is so old-school, it is rumored to have been a hangout for Prohibition-era Detroit gangsters, the Purple Gang -- and even a brothel at one time. Hypotheses aside, this bar today has a coveted Victorian-style covered front porch, a jukebox, cold beer, and cheap prices that may explain all the regulars.

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10. New Way Bar 23130 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220

PBR for a nominal price, burgers and grease-dripping bar fare, and all the Skee-Ball, pinball, and pool your gaming heart could desire -- it’s no wonder there’s a steady stream of regulars who flock to this Ferndale spot. With all the fixings of a quintessential neighborhood dive, New Way Bar is a popular weekend destination, so expect to make friends when it gets really packed. Pro tip: whether the live music is blaring in full force or the weekly open-mic lineup leaves something to be desired, you might want a pair of earplugs on hand.