Sharing food and drinks is a sign of hospitality and friendship, and board game gatherings are often fuelled by snacks, pizza, soda and beer. You might want to be extra sure to have plenty of refreshments on hand when playing these food-themed board games, which are based around making, collecting, and serving food and beverages.
Best board games about food
- Sushi Go!
- Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game
- Go Nuts for Donuts
- Point Salad
- Let Them Eat Cake
- Grand Austria Hotel
- Food Chain Magnate
These food board games range from casual titles that can be played with big groups in just 15 minutes to some extremely dense, strategic ones that will take even veteran gamers all day to play. Just like when throwing a dinner party, it’s best to plan for the tastes of everyone at your table to make sure you and your guests have a good experience.
If your friends have the appetite for a serious day of gaming, you can consider this list a tasting menu combining some meaty board games about food with lighter fare that will go down easy. We’ve arranged this list in order of complexity from easiest to most involved. Bon appetit!
1. Sushi Go!
Build the best bento box in this cheerful dish-drafting game
Rather than ordering off a menu, kaiten-sushi restaurants let diners watch dishes rotate past their tables on a conveyor belt and grab whatever looks good. Phil Walker-Harding turned that experience into a drafting game where up to five players pass around cards representing sashimi, dumplings and other Japanese fare to try to put together the most appealing meal.
Most points are earned from building sets or require planning a bit ahead. For instance, wasabi is worthless by itself but it multiplies the flavour of any nigiri played on top of it, so if you grab one you’re betting on a valuable fish coming your way. A single tempura won’t get you any points, but you can get five points if you pick up a second one.
Like with any drafting game, you’ll need to pay close attention to what cards the other players are picking. If you choose a strategy another player is going for, you might be deprived of the cards you want. On the other hand, you might also want to pick a suboptimal card to keep someone else’s score from getting out of hand. Victory is determined over the course of three fast-paced rounds, so even if you don’t get a good grasp of the strategy the first time, you’ll have a chance to try to catch up.
Games only take about 15 minutes total, so Sushi Go! is great as a palate cleanser between games or something to play while you wait for everyone to show up to the party.
2. Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game
Play your cards right to avoid earning points in this simple food game based on a Sanrio character
Hello Kitty creator Sanrio’s lazy egg Gudetama is so weirdly charming it’s appeared on everything from slippers to wine glasses. It’s also the star of this trick-taking game for two to seven players. Every round consists of seven tricks, where players take turns playing a card from their hands ranked from 1 to 14. Players must play cards in increasing value or play the lowest card they have in their hand. The person who laid down the highest value card at the end of each trick starts the next one unless they played a 14, in which case they nominate someone else to go first.
The player who takes the last of the seven tricks scores points equal to the high card they played. You don’t want points, so you should try to consider how to get rid of your highest cards before then by strategically taking tricks. If you manage to hold onto the 1 until the final round, you make everyone score. Once one player accrues 21 points the game ends, so if you’re behind you might want to try to help out the people below you to keep the game going.
Players who have any experience with Hearts or other trick-taking games should be able to pick this up quickly. It comes in a tiny box, so it’s perfect to bring with you to a party. But the best part is the adorable card art and captions that show the titular egg lounging in an avocado, stuck in a bowl of noodles and in various other delicious predicaments.
3. Go Nuts for Donuts!
Try to guess what doughnuts your friends will grab so you can collect the best sweets
Finding a box of doughnuts at your office or a party is a great treat, but only if you get there in time to pick your favorite flavour. Players must use their social deduction skills in Zachary Eagle’s bidding game to try to collect the best pastries by puzzling out what their opponents are going to grab.
The doughnuts, which all have charming artwork featuring goofy facial expressions, are arrayed in the centre of the table and players secretly select which ones they’re going to grab. If two or more players want the same doughnut, no-one gets it. If you’re the only one reaching for the delicious treat, you get to add it to your collection.
A lot of the strategy is pretty similar to Sushi Go! in that you’re often betting big on your ability to get future picks. If you have an odd number of Boston Cream doughnuts you get no points, but you get successively larger rewards for making pairs. The risk-averse might want to just stick to cards that are worth a static number of points at the end of the game - crowd-pleasing powdered sugar doughnuts are always a safe choice.
Besides trying to stare down your friends to figure out their next move, there are plenty of ways to mess with them - like picking up a Bear Claw, which lets you take an opponent’s card. There are also some complex strategies you can craft with cards like coffee, which helps mitigate the effects of negative point cards. Go Nuts for Donuts! hits the sweet spot of being easy to learn but dynamic enough to reward paying attention.
4. Point Salad
Draft vegetables to build a colourful salad and score points
Usually how you score points is one of the first rules you learn, but in Point Salad you’re making your victory conditions up as you go along. Two to six players take turns drafting cards that either represent ways to earn points, like scoring two points for every bell pepper you have, or vegetables that will add to their score based on the strategies they’re already working on.
Every card is both a point condition and a vegetable, so even if a particular condition isn’t good for you, it might be right to grab the card to bolster your collection. This makes messing with your opponents more viable than in most drafting games, since you can do it without picking up useless cards.
Some of the biggest point gains are the riskiest, giving you plenty of points for one type of vegetable while penalising you if you collect any of a different one. You’ll need to pay attention and diversify your strategy to make the most out of your trips to the veggie market. Gameplay is fast and the random elements reward experimenting with different strategies every time.
Build synergies in your food court by serving dishes from around the world
A trip to the food court is a great solution for a group with disparate tastes, offering everyone the chance to have something different. Likewise, Foodies is a great compromise for a group who have disparate game experiences since it’s still fairly light on complexity but provides a bit more substantive gameplay.
Players take on the roles of food court managers trying to craft the most enticing menus to attract customers. That involves drafting regional dishes and laying them out on their board to maximise the number of points and money they’ll earn from a visit. Every type of cuisine provides its own special benefits - Mexican fare will reward you with more money if you focus on spicy food, while your French cuisine will be more popular if you’re serving more French food than anyone else. You can also race to complete the requirements to attract chefs that will make your stall even more popular.
Individual cards also have their own special benefits, so you’ll have to weigh them against how much they cost to add to your menu. They also have art indicating a wide variety of dishes. It’s a shame they’re not labelled because you’ll want to know how to order some of the particularly delicious-looking ones.
Brew the perfect cup of tea to please your customers
Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, a symbol of comfort and hospitality. Chai draws on that rich tradition by having players take on the role of tea merchants working to cater to customers by putting together the perfect blend.
Players take their actions visiting the market or rummaging through their pantry to pick up the ingredients needed to satisfy orders. Many of the beautifully drawn customers are famous tea drinkers from pop culture, such as Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Uncle Iroh or Star Trek’s Captain Picard.
All of the components of the game are gorgeous, from the tea cups used to store spent ingredients to the bright coloured tiles representing market items. It’s a great marriage of flavour and mechanics, with soothing gameplay that’s light on head-to-head competition.
7. Let Them Eat Cake
Plot against and bribe your friends for a sweet taste of victory
Marie Antoinette never actually said “Let them eat cake,” but the French Revolution is still inextricably tied to a ludicrous line about pastry. Here it’s the key to victory, with players competing to be the first to gather 40 cakes as they jockey for position within the new government.
The game is filled with plotting and secrecy, with players concealing the value of their cake and thus how close they are to winning. Every round you vote to dole out titles like secretary, who gets to give cards to other players, or the guillotine operator, who can deprive other players of votes. You’re encouraged to argue loudly and even bribe each other for the roles you want, making all sorts of promises that you don’t need to keep.
Besides collecting cake, you can also amass the favour of generals who you can use to stage a coup and control the vote, or grab other people’s cake by force. It’s a chaotic game that includes a pretty impressive guillotine piece. Just make sure no-one’s actually hungry when playing this to help keep tempers in check.
8. Grand Austria Hotel
Attract guests by serving their favourite food and drink, but don’t ignore politics
Vienna was one of the greatest cities in Europe in the early 20th century. In this board game, you’re trying to cater to the wide variety of people who flocked there as a hotel manager looking to fill your rooms. Every prospective guest has a type of dish or drink they want, such as wine or strudel. Your hotel also has rooms specifically for nobles, artists and regular citizens, but you’ll need to have them ready when your café customer finishes their meal and is ready to retire.
Players draft guest cards to seat them, and then must bring out the items they want. They’ll also need to pay to build up their hotel to gain access to more rooms. All of this is done by drafting dice, and you can take more actions at a time based on how many of the same number were rolled that turn. You can also hire staff to manipulate the odds.
Running the business is complex enough, but you also need to make sure you don’t fall out of favour with the Emperor. You’ll need to take some actions to please him such as wooing guests that will grant you status. Make him happy, and you might be rewarded with money or extra rooms; ignore him and you’ll face steep penalties that can cause your grand plans to fall apart because you lack the resources to build anything.
Master every step of wine production - from predicting the weather to offering tastings
Wine bottles are always marked with the year the grapes were harvested both because wines improve with age and the growing conditions can affect taste. Vinhos will make you intimately familiar with those properties as you use weather forecasts to try to plant grapes that will thrive while also planning to ensure you have enough space in your cellars for your bottles to reach their full potential.
This is a highly complex game with players building vineyards in different regions with their own characteristics based on geography, soil and weather. That impacts what type of wine they’ll want to produce, but you’ll also always need to look to expand to mitigate the effects of nasty weather. Expansion costs money, so you need to earn cash by selling wine at local hangouts or exporting it to foreign markets. You might also want to spend some of that money to hire wine experts, who will help improve your product.
If the rules seem too intimidating, the deluxe edition features a simplified version of the gameplay. If you’re willing to invest the time Vinhos takes to learn and play, you’ll also gain some insights into the complex process that goes into wine making.
10. Food Chain Magnate
Hire and manage employees to become the biggest fast food chain around
Fast food is big business, with chains competing for their share of the market by vying for customers and keeping their operations as efficient as possible. In this heavy strategy game, which can easily take four hours to play, you take on the role of ambitious entrepreneurs trying to earn the most money.
As CEO you’ll handle every aspect of the business, from hiring errand boys to advertising on billboards. You’ll try to get the best use out of your employees to get them cooking and delivering food while also looking to recruit or train new staff. You also need to look to expand your physical space while considering the competition and possible delivery routes. Novelty is king, and being the first to do anything from making a pizza to lowering prices will get you milestones that provide valuable rewards.
Like the actual fast food business, this is a pretty cut-throat game where an early mistake can cost you big time down the road. Consider playing a slimmed-down version of the game for your first outing to avoid people getting frustrated if they don’t grasp some of the rules until it’s too late.