Gaming and Activities

Game On! The Best L.A. Bars for Pinball, Arcade Classics, and More

Can you beat your childhood top score?

Photo courtesy of Golden Gopher/Facebook

If growing up means not playing video games, count us out. But if growing up just means drinking while you play them, sign us up! These L.A. bars are offering more than the usual dartboard and pool table bar play. Whether your forte is pinball, early arcade classics, or coin-eating brawlers, you’ll find somewhere to play while downing a good drink at one of these 11 spots.

Photo by Ally Thornton/Courtesy of Arts District Brew Co

Arts District Brewing Company
Arm yourself with tokens and some in-house brew, and get ready to spend your laundry money at one of Arts District’s restored Skee-Ball machines. Weekends see a heavy crowd of locals and beer lovers, so arrive early to claim your spot as the ball game champ. 828 Traction Avenue

Blipsy Bar
Forget karaoke; getting walloped in the boxing video game Punch-Out!! is the cool new way to embarrass yourself in front of friends. Other fun selections include pinball games and classic ’80s cabinets. 369 North Western Avenue

Photo courtesy of Brack Shop Tavern/Facebook

Brack Shop Tavern
Brack Shop brings you back to the epic gaming battles that took place right in your friends’ living rooms—that’s right, it has an N64. Carts include glorious friendship ruiners like Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros., so ask the staff for controllers and find out if your adult relationships can survive a 10-stock, all Jigglypuffs, fans-only brawl. For those who want to wind things back about 20 more years and 56 bits, there’s also a Pac-Man/Galaga table. 525 West 7th Street

Photo courtesy of Break Room 86

Break Room 86
Video games join the nightlife elite at Break Room 86, a supertrendy, ’80s-inspired bar with a secret entrance. While the modest collection of obvious arcade choices (Pac-Man, Centipede, etc.) is just a small part of its old-school vibe, it’s still cool to see games represented at a place that draws the geeks and elites together. The Line Hotel, 630 South Ardmore Avenue

Photo courtesy of Button Mash/Facebook

Button Mash
We’ve told you about Button Mash in our Definitive L.A. Burger Guide, so you already know it’s a great place to down some double patties. What you might not know is that, in addition to its menu of Asian fusion bar bites and a killer beer list, this supercool Echo Park joint also boasts an excellent selection of pinball and arcade games anchored by the ultimate co-op: a six-player X-Men cabinet. 1391 West Sunset Boulevard

EightyTwo
What EightyTwo lacks in interior decor it more than makes up for in game selection. There are dozens of game cabinets covering arcade staples like fighters, brawlers, light-gun shooters, and more, plus a roster of pinball games so deep that the L.A. Pinball League calls this very barcade home. 707 East 4th Place

Free Play
With star chef Tim Hollingsworth (Otium, the French Laundry) at the helm of a joint in Banc of California Stadium’s fancy new food hall, this is what you can expect: pool, vintage arcade games, and a TV screen for every game alongside exceptional bar food, like roasted half chicken with harissa and garlic confit, tri-tip nachos, and an irresistible burger with shoestring fries. Head there for happy hour to enjoy free arcade games. 3939 South Figueroa Street

Photo courtesy of Golden Gopher/Facebook

The Golden Gopher
In most barcades, it’s the vintage games that take the modern space back a few years. At the Golden Gopher, it’s the century-old space that makes the ’80s games seem like young whippersnappers. This bar has been running so long that it’s grandfathered into early-1900s rules that allow it to sell alcohol to go! (But why grab a six-pack and jet when Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga arcade tables beckon?) 417 West 8th Street

Photo by Kiki L./Yelp

Mission Control
Santa Ana’s Mission Control plays like a greatest hits compilation of all the games that gobbled your quarters in the ’90s: vintage classics (Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Rampage), ’90s brawlers (X-Men, The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and even some fancier light-gun and driving cabinets that you don’t find in most barcades (Time Crisis II, House of the Dead, Cruis’n World). For the pinheads out there, there’s a good lineup of pinball machines, as well. 515 North Main Street, Santa Ana

The One Up
For a potent blend of fun from both your youth and adulthood, head to the One Up, a bustling barcade-lounge sitting on the lively stretch of Ventura Boulevard. The mashup of childhood and adult life is everywhere: Cap’n Crunch–covered wings on the menu, Grown-Up Chocolate Milk among the cocktails, and, despite the wall of free arcade cabinets in back, a swanky front lounge area. Come early; this place gets packed, and without quarters to worry about, the wait for games can be long. 13625 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks

Walt’s Bar
The nostalgia is real in this corner plumbing shop–turned–craft beer bar and pinball arcade. Come with a pocketful of quarters and an appetite for hot dogs (veggie included!) or a hot snack. (We recommend the Mexican street corn pretzel.) If you’re exceptionally skilled, a weekly pinball tournament happens every Wednesday. 4680 Eagle Rock Boulevard