As a teenage gamer, you understood the importance of ultra-precise hand-eye coordination for virtual survival. But now that you’re an adult and “Game Over” or running out of quarters doesn’t feel as devastating, why not power up with booze? Besides, nothing makes one crave a cocktail or beer more than dodging whiskey barrels in Donkey Kong. Fortunately for those who want to relive their childhood while imbibing, ’80s-themed bar arcades are trending. Now there are several places other than your living room where you can finally satisfy your two vices of drinking and gaming. (And look for ’80s-style arcade bar Button Mash by Design, Bitches to open in Echo Park this summer.)
Break Room 86: The video games in the Houston Brothers’ new ’80s-inspired nightlife venue in Koreatown are only in one corner of the bar as well as on your way out near the exit, but that doesn’t mean this mini arcade should be dismissed. After all, they’ve got the classics like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man. And the best part is all the games are free unlimited play! Just see how many Ecto Cooler cocktails (tequila, sage-infused Dolin dry vermouth, lime, simple syrup, and cucumber juice) it takes ’til you can’t outrun Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde no more.
Must play: Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man
The One-Up: This Studio City bar arcade not only has a huge variety of arcade games (more than 400 classic horizontal, vertical, and street-fight games) that you can play for free but also comfort-food bar bites like a Southern fried chicken banh mi, goat cheese tots, and French dip sliders. Level up with cocktails like the aptly named One-Up Old Fashioned or a variety of draft craft beer. Craft favorites like Stone IPA and Modern Times Coffee Stout are on tap.
Must play: Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter II
Blipsy Bar: Formerly known as Miss T’s Barcade, Blipsy Bar is not as shiny or cocktail-intensive as the other spots listed here. It’s affectionately known as a dive bar with an arcade. But you can’t go wrong with cheap drinks and a slew of classic arcade games and pinball. However, you can go wrong if you skip the ATM before heading to this cash-only establishment. For a real flashback, come every third Wednesday when their DJ plays ’80s music.
Must play: Centipede, Spy Hunter, Asteroids
Cost: 25 cents
EightyTwo: Named after the “golden age of the arcade,” this year-old Arts District venue features a classic video game arcade and a pinball room. Time here will move quicker than the effects of Pac-Man on a power pellet especially when you factor in the arcade-themed specialty cocktails like the N00b (bee pollen, local honey, house-made lemongrass syrup, lemon juice, and vodka) and the cold-brew drinks like the Wizard Mode (rye whiskey, cold-brew coffee, vanilla black tea).
Must play: Dig Dug, Frogger, Mortal Kombat II, Pole Position
Cost: Arcade games 25 cents, cockpit games/pinball 50 cents