Over the years we have reviewed an absolute mass of board and tabletop games, in fact we already have over 400 tabletop reviews on the site. What you might not know is that we have a penchant for food-themed dishes; We’ve actually reviewed over 25 of them over the past few years. As such, it only makes sense that we put together a list of the best, sort of a master list of the best food-themed board games.
However, with so many games available, it makes a lot more sense that we also spend time highlighting what makes each one so great, why we picked them out of dozens and dozens of other titles; and that we also describe the real strength of the thematic. It’s easy enough to layer a theme or setting on top of a working set of game mechanics, but this list will celebrate those that were clearly designed with the food or drink theme from the ground up.
Best Quickplay Food-Themed Board Game: Frenemy Pastry Evening
Sometimes you don’t want to play a long game, sometimes you want something quick and accessible that you can play as a warm-up game before a bigger game, or even just as a disposable game while you wait for time outmoded. Frenemy Pastry Evening is easily one of the best food-themed board games, and it can be played in a snap.
The notion of Frenemy Pastry Evening is incredibly simple, you have to work with other players to create beautiful pastries. Points are awarded by completing cakes or contributing ingredients to other players’ creations, however, there is an element of bluffing involved as each player has a character card that awards bonus points based on certain qualifiers: Have the most strawberry cards in play at the end? That could be enough bonus points from your character card to propel you to the top spot. As such, there is little room for deception; Players will often only have a percentage of the cards they need to complete a cake (and, as such, stockpile the ingredients) and so they will have to ask others for help. Other players will earn points for their contribution, but if they’re on top of you, they might not want to help you at all.
We reviewed the original version of Frenemy Pastry Evening in 2019, however, it is now available with localized rules due to a crowdfunding campaign that came later.
Best Food-Themed Family Board Game: Pretty buns
Some board games can be incredibly complex or can pit players against each other in a way where there are a lot of options, games, or rules in effect at any given time. Nice Buns is an incredibly accessible game with an incredibly clear set of rules which means it only takes a few minutes to fully understand the rules.
Pretty buns is extremely easy to play. You must collect three buns of the same color and then bank them, with the ultimate goal of having three sets of three different colors in the bank. The way you earn buns is based on a series of dice rolls. There is a small dice, a medium dice and a large dice, each of them has different effects: small grabs from the bag of buns (random), medium lets you take from the common plate and great interact with the other people around the table. The first twist is that you have to split those three dice into two stacks, and then the next player in line chooses which stack they want. As such, you can play smart and make a stack more appealing to the other player to land a good shot yourself, but, ultimately, Pretty buns moves so fast there is no need for big play around the turns. The second twist is that you can’t have more than three bun colors on your plate, so you can ruin other players’ plates if you feel like sabotaging other people, but you’ll need to get the right dice to do it. , and both options for getting the die to your hand involve other players.
We have revised Pretty buns in November 2021, emphasizing sleek design and fun components.
Best engine-building themed board game: Viticulture (essential edition)
Despite the somewhat “relaxed” aspect of winemaking, there are an incredible number of things that need to be balanced to successfully run a vineyard. Even the wine part, which Viticulture focuses on, includes several steps: you have to pick a vine, plant it, harvest it and make grapes pressed into wine.
Unlike real life, you are fighting for a shared space. There are only a limited number of workers and a limited number of places you can use them. If you wake up earlier, you can send your workers into the field first – which may mean the others just can’t go – which means you can hit every note of wine production… however , those who do not come out first receive bonuses. These bonuses can open other paths, cards that give you access to more grapes or allow you to attract different buyers. It’s a ruthless game, and it can certainly feel like you’re on a losing streak at times, but as Viticulture opens and you start upgrading your setup, it won’t matter as much if you don’t hit all the links in the production chain.
We have revised Viticulture (essential edition) in 2017, commenting that the improvements in the new edition (including a worker who defies the normal rules) improved the original version considerably.
Best intuitive food-themed board game: Chocolatiers
If life is like a box of chocolates, then Chocolatiers is to make life work, at all costs. As we rent Pretty buns for its incredible accessibility, Chocolatiers has an even more streamlined game loop, and while there’s plenty of room for tactical play, most thinking will be about endgame scoring rather than the game in progress.
That’s not to say it’s an incredibly simple game. The objective is to complete boxes of chocolates and these are displayed in a common area, along with a selection of pieces available to take away. In fact, if people are staring at each other’s hands, there are only a few ways to keep other players unaware of your plans…these either use your starting hand slowly and tactically, or using the wild chocolate token to claim a box in front of other players before finishing them off. Ultimately, you aim to complete six orders, build a mega box of chocolates, and once that happens, everyone scores based on the frequency and patterns that form in their completed box.
We have revised Chocolatiers in 2019, celebrating its ease of setup and play.
Best Competitive Food-Themed Board Game: Churrascaria
Churrascaria is a game about filling your stomach with as much meat as you can, whether you’re stealing it from other people’s plates or filling your own plate. It’s a strategic game of using action cards against each other to force them to eat healthier foods instead of meats, and managing your own demand token to ensure the most big and plump ones come to you.
It’s a game with absolutely amazing illustrations, and it also comes with a cookbook full of fantastic Brazilian recipes. Gameplay was fast-paced and competitive, with players flipping demand tokens every turn to try and sabotage other players. I don’t think anyone has actually seen through any of his initial plans, with alliances and crude rivalries forming very quickly. The reason for this is the quick decision-making and the limited options available at every turn; by flipping any request token, eating an item, playing an action card, or cycling any number of cards in your hand with those in the deck. Because of this, and the fact that you can choose any of these options, most people lean towards a tamper move while trying to scroll their hands… and tamper, in turn, means the most people don’t attract more food to their plate through tokens.
We have revised Churrascaria in 2019, and couldn’t help but comment on how delicious the artwork was.
Best Production Line Themed Board Game: chocolate factory
If you’re looking for something you can waste a good hour on, or where you can keep refining and developing your systems in order to score big, then you can’t really go wrong with a production line, engine builder or a bridge construction game. We’ve already dipped into Engine Builders earlier, with Viticulture, corn chocolate factory requires a massive shout out here as it contains a literal production line, as well as some sort of conveyor belt.
Players are placed around a factory, complete with a “sliding” treadmill. They must use the options available to them to transform the cocoa into increasingly complicated chocolates. However, each level of refining uses more coal, and coal is obtained by burning or wasting chocolate. You’ll need to upgrade your gear in order to put more stuff into play, but as you do this players have more and more options to bank what they’ve built for endgame points. . You can choose to focus on a long game if you want, but you will be left behind when other players take smaller orders… That said, larger orders give massive rewards, but require multiple stages of refinement. It’s a balancing act, of course, and with a big theme running throughout.
We reviewed Chocolate Factory in early 2020, when we expressed our delight in the “conveyor” mechanism, although we did note that the early stages were quite divisive.
There are tons of food-themed board games out there, but these are the ones we think are the best of the best! Do you have a favorite food-themed game?