5135 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield
Silky's Sports Bar & Grill
1731 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill
Silky's Crow's Nest
19th St. and River Road, Sharpsburg
With giant television sets tuned constantly to sporting events and shows in which people perform incredibly dumb stunts on camera, one could be forgiven for thinking that when readers say Silky's offers the city's best "pub games," they're referring to games you watch on TV. Not so. Because in addition to all the televisions, the Silky's pubs -- with locations in Squirrel Hill, Bloomfield and Sharpsburg -- all feature pinball, multiple video-poker games, a jukebox and the pièce de résistance: a shuffleboard.
The rules of shuffleboard are pretty simple. It involves two teams of up to four players, who each attempt to slide heavy metal-and-plastic pucks across a sawdust-covered surface and into scoring zones at the other end of the table. For newcomers, Silky's provides a 20-page pamphlet explaining different variations of the game. (Generally, it explains, "the object of the game is to slide, by hand, all four of one's weights alternately against those of an opponent, so that they reach the highest scoring area without falling off the end of the board into the alley.") But chances are you can figure it out on your own.
At other bars and restaurants, these 22-foot-long tables go largely unused, serving as additional counterspace on crowded nights. But at Silky's, people are serious about the game.
Doug Crissman, a former frequenter of the Silky's in Bloomfield who has since departed the city, says he became obsessive about playing.
"I'd come home from work on Thursday or Friday night," he says, "and ache to mercilessly kick someone's ass in shuffleboard."
While that kind of competitive fury might be rare, people do tend to flock to the thing. Clarissa Proud ("as in, proud to be an American," she says) has tended bar at the Bloomfield Silky's for three years.
"It's one of the reasons people come here," she says. "People are competitive, I guess, and it's addictive and fun."