As many barflies would tell you, there’s more to do at local watering holes besides
Depending on the particular spot, you can shoot some stick, toss a few rounds of darts,
Games of skill and chance have been as much a
In recent years, arcade games, pinball machines, Skee-Ball, and even old-school consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis have proven to be increasingly popular, owing to the nostalgia of throwback thrills or vintage video games. While it's true that most
Hence, the rise of the arcade/bar hybrids that have sprung up in major cities like New York and LA or chic
Phoenix has its fair share of such joints, including any of the following bars that feature video games in abundance (such as Cobra Arcade Bar, the Grid in Mesa, and Tempe's Endgame) or old-school distractions made new again like Skee-Ball, which can be found at places like the Little Woody or Gringo Star on Mill.
10. Gringo Star Street Bar
Given that two major pastimes for college kids are drinking and gaming, putting a hybrid bar and arcade like Gringo Star Street Bar within fragging distance of Arizona State University is an idea worthy of the Mother Brain herself. The Mill Avenue spot levels up the hipness factor even further by mixing vintage video games (10 arcade classics like Galaga and Street Fighter II, plus two Nintendo 64 consoles and Skee-Ball machines) with vibrant street art murals from Lalo Cota, JB Snyder, and Sierra Joy. Games are free to play every Monday, and the bar offers several drink specials, while the big DJ nights on Friday and Saturday bring out both bottle-poppers and quarter-droppers.
9. Gypsy Bar
Between the flashy tableaux of all the high-tech games in its Dave &
8. Dave & Busters
Everything about the Dave & Buster's is big, from its gigantic “Million Dollar Midway” arcade that’s as glitzy and lively as a casino to the games themselves, which are all of the cutting-edge, high-end, and redemption-oriented variety. (Some are just flat-out enormous, like the life-sized Connect Four that towers over players.) Even its menu of specialty cocktails and themed drinks is enormous, as it features 16 pages of libations that are ultra-colorful, to say the least, including such signature concoctions as the Purple People Eater and Angry Balls. Like most other locations in the chain, the Valley’s Dave & Buster's at the Desert Ridge shopping center in North Phoenix, Tempe Marketplace, and Westgate Entertainment District are strictly the domain of the 21-and-crowd over after 11 p.m. on weekends, which means you can game and imbibe without the kids around.
7. The Little Woody
Much like the speakeasy theme of the Little Woody, the thrills and distractions available in the Arcadia spot’s side room are of a quaint and throwback nature. A vintage shuffleboard game that looks like its straight from the mid-century era takes up almost an entire wall, while a pair of Skee-Ball machines, a dart board, and foosball each occupy their respective corners. Several board games or beloved playthings from childhood, ranging from checkers to Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, can also be found at tables or being played by patrons enjoying a nostalgia kick along with their buzz.
6. Modern Round
Under normal circumstances, playing around with a Glock 9mm or AR-15 assault rifle after downing a few potent adult beverages isn’t a recommended activity by any means. If you happen to be hanging out at Modern Round, however,
5. The Whining Pig Arcadia
Your eyes can't help but be drawn to either of its chalkboard-painted walls at this cozy Arcadia spot, which
4. 8-Bit Aleworks
At this Avondale microbrewery inspired by old-school video games, patrons are referred to at “
3. Bonus Round
Everything about this CenPho spot is of a geeky bent, from the collage of comic book artwork adorning the bar right down to its nerdy signature drinks (with names like Plasma Grenade, Rogue Leader, and Stardate) available. And there’s the multitude of games you can play, ranging from old-school arcade favorites like Spy Hunter and Silent Scope to those in the tabletop and role-playing vein. Bonus Round co-owners James Goshow and Jacob Rendel are both avowed geeks and designed their spot to be a haven and hub for nerd culture, including hosting events like Dungeons and Dragons sessions, cosplay get-togethers, and gaming tournaments. And as Rendel told us last year, that’s what sets the place apart from other spots on this list. “Our arcade game [lineup] isn't nearly as decked out or as extensive as
2. The Grid
This Mesa arcade bar is a popular spot for geekdom, nightlife, and game culture, and geeky nightlife events inspired by games. Numerous
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1. Cobra Arcade Bar
Downtown Phoenix’s Cobra Arcade Bar is the sort of place that locals have both needed and wanted for years. That is to say, a nightspot that boasts a fantastic lineup of vintage coin-op games, not to mention an artsy flair and hip verve. Cobra notches a high score in all these categories with its rotating selection of 40 different titles — all of which are culled from the curated collection of co-owner Ariel Bracamonte — mural work by such popular artists as Lalo Cato and El Mac decorating its interior and exterior, and regular spin sessions from DJs like Chris Villa and Meanmugg. Nifty touches like its 11 game-themed signature cocktails, weekly tournaments for prizes on Sundays, and actual tokens being used help add extra bonus points.
This article originally published in April 2016 and has since been updated.