Below a strip of condos on North Lamar, battles are being waged. Warriors and wizards, orcs and elves. Card wielding combatants drink pints of mead as they clash in contests of skill, bravery and treachery. In this realm, games are serious business.
They’re also a ton of fun. Vigilante Gaming Bar, a brand new spot dedicated to tabletop and social card games, is carving out a unique niche in the Austin bar scene. Whether you’re a hardcore Dominion expert or disgustingly good at Cards Against Humanity, Vigilante caters to anybody looking for a good time, and an even better game.
Three Years in the Making
It took three years to get here. The brainchild of Preston Swincher (The Keeper of the Bar), Flip Kromer (The Keeper of the Games) and Zach Daschofsky (Director of Marketing), Vigilante was born of the team’s long-standing love of tabletop gaming. They intended to not only share their hobby with the masses, but also to attempt to break common misconceptions.
“What a lot of people underestimate about board gaming right now is that it’s not like Monopoly where it takes an hour to learn and three hours to play it,” shared Swincher. “Most of the popular games right now are games where you can learn it in five minutes. They are very laugh out loud, very fast, very fun, and are designed to get you interact with your friends in new and exciting ways. That’s the experience I want to bring to people. I want to open them up to the world of gaming that they haven’t experienced before.”
Vigilante Gaming Bar opened to the public after two years of painstaking work. The bar greets guests with a dark, inviting wood décor, accented by industrial lighting and rich purple curtains. Along the far right wall, a massive, custom-built gaming shelf stretches the length of the restaurant. In fact, when Swincher and his team arrived, the space was a blank canvas. Everything had to be custom-made.
The venue features two sections: a bar area suited for social games like Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens, and a dedicated gaming area. This latter section features 12 tables designed for “crunchier” titles like Stratego, 7 Wonders and Game of Thrones.
On the social side of the bar, the vibe is slightly upscale without being pretentious or stuffy. Servers stop by only if summoned via a call button on each table, ensuring a distraction-free gaming experience. With plush couches, and ample room for you and your friends, the bar area’s energy is warm and inviting.
Everything Revolves Around the Game
In the gaming table section, things get serious. Every aspect of Vigilante Gaming Bar was designed with gamers in mind.
“The whole angle is if we think of the game as a service product, we want to think of every conceivable angle to make the experience as seamless as possible,” said Swincher.
After a group selects one of the restaurant’s 190 games via a tablet, a server brings it to their table, ready for quick setup. Every staff member knows the games inside and out, giving newbies a chance to learn from a pro. Games come in custom-built boxes with obsessive attention to detail. Game pieces live in specially-made carriers; cards come pre-set in handy trays; and nothing is out of place. The goal is to make setup as easy as humanly possible, keeping game quality pristine.
Along with the call button for wait staff, tables feature a “new player needed” toggle. Did someone leave your game? Flipping a switch alerts the front of the house that a player is needed. This gives Vigilante Gaming Bar a social aspect, allowing like-minded people to meet other gaming fans.
Don’t miss the VIP private rooms. Hidden behind a wall of massive gaming shelves, these rooms are absolutely incredible. Featuring motifs like Dumbledore’s office and a 60’s-era war room, complete with shelves full of WWII-era technology, the private rooms take the gaming experience to a whole new level. Both rooms are completely soundproofed, ensuring your private party stays private.
Completing the Vigilante Gaming Bar Experience
It’s not all games and hidden war rooms. Vigilante Gaming Bar offers a solid liquor selection and an ingenious food menu. In keeping with the gamer-centric focus, every item on their Americana Small Plates menu, even the salads, are designed to be eaten one-handed.
On the drink side, Vigilante’s entire tap wall consists of Austin-brewed beers, ciders and meads. Even the energy drinks come from an Austin-based company. They also offer a sake selection to go with their wine list. Everything fits into custom-made drink/food holders that slide out from underneath the gaming tables.
Unlike some of the games guests will be playing, nothing in regards to the design, service and experience at Vigilante Gaming Bar has been left to chance. Carefully designed by people who genuinely love tabletop gaming, this inventive bar aims to up the ante on traditional gaming cafes. Bring a friend or four and settle in for an evening of tabletop fun.
Note: The restaurant was still under construction during my visit. Please excuse any “mess” that may be in the photos.
Vigilante Gaming Bar is located at 7010 Easy Wind Dr. off North Lamar Boulevard. For game lists, menus and room reservation information, go to vigilantebar.com.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
What is your go-to game when hanging out with friends?