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A Night Out at FTW, Streeterville’s Steampunk Barcade

It goes so far beyond the arcade-bar clichés.

City Golf 312 at FTW   Photo: Peter Ranvestel

Yes, FTW (322 E. Illinois St., Streeterville, ftwchicago.com) is another arcade bar—and it’s a steampunk-accented one at that, a description that’s enough to make you roll your eyes so hard they stay that way. But this newbie from the owners of the adjacent Lucky Strike bowling lanes goes so far beyond the pinball-and-Street Fighter norm that it barely belongs in the same category, thanks to a six-hole Chicago-themed indoor mini golf course, multiple private rooms, and a delicious cocktail program that’s heavy on potent options. (And, blessedly, they opted to err on the lighter side of steampunk kitsch.)

The game options are more akin to what you’d find at a Dave & Busters (head-to-head virtual racing, basketball games), and there’s the requisite prize room for redeeming the tickets you earn during gameplay. Four private rooms with views onto Illinois Street are reservable, but if nobody has them for the night, they’re open as a lounge for breaks between games. A massive LCD screen can be turned to sports events if need be (like for the Hawks game on the night we stopped in). This isn’t the type of place that’s going to be any Chicagoan’s regular haunt–and indeed, most of Saturday’s visitors were from out-of-state per a chat with the ID-checking doorman–but when you’re in need of a date-night activity, a night of mini-golf and racing could be a great option.

Here’s what all we saw when we stopped in.

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