Best of Boston

2001 Best Pool Hall

Flat Top Johnny’s

Pool halls pop with American romanticism: Fast Eddie Felson, bourbon, the small-time hustle. They’re supposed to be stark, shadowy places with heroin jazz playing softly, and a slow-twirling fan in the corner. And even though it’s air-conditioned, with comfortable couches lining the back wall, Flat Top Johnny’s can hold its own. It’s tucked away in Kendall Square, with an unpretentious bar area and a laid-back mix of regulars who enjoy Coltrane as much as the Foo Fighters. For a first date on a Saturday night or for playing hooky on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s a great spot to hide away and imagine, when you finally hit that bank shot in the corner, that you’ve just beaten Minnesota Fats.

One Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-494-9565,