By Breanna Wilson CONTRIBUTOR
Chicago has it all – spectacular food, legendary nightlife and now, one of the best ping pong scenes in the country. Yes. It’s true, ping pong is back in a big way thanks to the person you might least expect it from, Susan Sarandon.
Carefully curated music, retro meets graffiti décor and 20 ping pong tables in a 16,000 square foot space, this is the latest outpost of Susan Sarandon’s ping pong social club, SPiN. Located on Chicago’s lively State Street in the North River part of town, SPiN Chicago is the 5th location to open in the U.S. following the success of the ping pong social club’s locations in New York (the location that started it all), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto.
The scene is laid back and lively, making it a place that you can pretty much go for any occasion. And during prime time on a Friday or Saturday night you can expect the place to be packed, but not cramped, with everyone from a couple on their first date to a group celebrating a friend’s birthday, to relaxed first timers to competitive players in the zone. SPiN even has leagues and competitions, you know, in case you’re interested in seeing how your ping pong skills stack up against other Chicagoans.
The 18,000 square foot space can accommodate almost 600 guests and features 20 ping pong tables available to rent by the half hour or hour. (Credit: SPiN/Barry Brecheisen)
And with a full bar and restaurant lead by Chef Ariel Bagadiong, formerly of Dana Hotel’s Aja, SPiN is a nice change of pace from the usual dinner and drinks that usually consume a night out. Before or after you’re about to hit the ping pong table, order a Bacon and Blue Flatbread, Crispy Chicken with buttermilk biscuits or bone-in ribeye from the kitchen, whose menu follows a farm-to-table shareable plates theme with as many of the ingredients being sourced from within 200 miles of the location as possible. The shareable, eat-with-your-hands plates (minus the salads) make perfect sense here, you are in an underground ping pong social club after all. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a Salt Lick Susan, a Top Spin No. 1 or a Lagunitas IPA, who has a brewery in Chicago.
Featuring a full bar plus plenty of beer options, drinks can be ordered from the bar or from your table’s designated server. (Credit: SPiN/Barry Brecheisen)
SPiN isn’t just a nighttime destination, the first floor doubles as a coffee-centric hangout, with brews available from Dark Matter Coffee. People are encouraged to bring their laptop and hangout, they do open at 11 a.m. after all. Only after 9 p.m. does the entire space turn into a 21 and over hangout.
There’s a price to rent a table, of course, with SPiN’s designated peak hours (after 5 p.m. every day and Sunday through Thursday 10 p.m. to close) running you $29 for a half hour of play and $39 for an hour of play. Off peak hours will run you a little less, $15 per half hour and $25 per hour. Reservations made a week or more in advance will run you $59 per hour, it’s pricey to plan ahead but well worth the risk – expect at least an hour wait (if you’re lucky) during peak hours.