As many barflies would tell you, there’s more to do at local watering holes besides tying a few on. And we aren’t just talking about singing karaoke or watching the latest sports action, pal.
Depending on the particular spot, you can shoot some stick, toss a few rounds of darts,
Games of skill and chance have been
In recent years, arcade games, pinball machines, Skee-Ball, and even old-school consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis have proven 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 and bar hybrids that have sprung up in major cities like New York and L.A. 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 and The Grid in Mesa) or old-school distractions made new again like Skee-Ball, which can be found at places like the Little Woody.
Freezer's Ice House
83 East Broadway Road, Tempe
If you’re into billiards or darts, you’ll find an abundance of both at Freezer’s Ice House. More than 30 pool tables and dozens of dart machines are housed
If you’re more into mashing buttons instead of shooting stick or tossing darts, you’ll also find a respectable collection of a half-dozen or so retro arcade games, including Ninja Gaiden, Street Fighter II, Centipede, and Double Dragon. Keep your head on a swivel when playing, however, in case you’ve got to quickly move out of the way of pool players angling for a perfect shot.
50 West Jefferson Street
Between the flashy tableaux of all the high-tech games in its Dave & Buster's-like arcade lounge, the vibrant tempest of lights and sounds coming from its DJ booth and dance floor, and the array of eye-popping aerialist and burlesque performances happening on weekend nights, there’s a good chance you might experience sensory overload when visiting this CityScape nightspot in downtown Phoenix. Self-medicate with one of the 11 different specialty cocktails or any of the wealth of libations available from the bar, all of which
Dave & Buster's
21001 North Tatum Boulevard
2000 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
9460 West Hanna Lane, Glendale
Everything about 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
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-over after 11 p.m. on weekends, which means you can game and imbibe without the kids around.
The Little Woody
4228 East Indian School Road
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 it's 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.
The Whining Pig Arcadia
3730 East Indian School Road
Your eyes can't help but be drawn to either of its chalkboard-painted walls at this cozy Arcadia spot, which
8320 West Mariners Way, Peoria
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,
That’s because the firearms available at this "shooting lounge" are actually light guns, albeit ones that are quite accurate looking. They can be used to blast swamp creatures, mutant spiders, enemy snipers, or other virtual characters.
The stylish establishment, which is located in the P83 Entertainment District in Peoria, features 20 private nooks outfitted with posh seating for up to six people and a wall-sized projection screen where patrons can play more than 40 high-tech games of a duck-hunting, target-shooting, or zombie-killing variety. (You can even blow away some garden gnomes or flying pigs.) A full food and drink menu is available and boasts luxe libations and hand-crafted cocktails, including mojitos, martinis, and Manhattans. A word of warning, some of the light guns feature a realistic recoil, which might cause you to spill your drink.
1050 North Fairway Drive, Building F Suite 101, Avondale
At this Avondale microbrewery inspired by old-school video games, patrons are referred to as “
The theme extends to the six different house brews crafted on the premises by co-owners Ryan and Krystina Whitten. They feature such geeky names as Hopsassin’s Creed, Extra Life, and White Mage, and are dispensed in either pints or growlers from tap handles topped with repurposed NES controllers. Speaking of which, both the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo are available for play, as is a Sega Genesis.
24 West Camelback Road
Everything about this CenPho spot is of a geeky bent, from the
Bonus Round co-owners James Goshow and Jacob Rendel are both avowed geeks and designed the spot as a haven and hub for nerd culture, with 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
525 South Gilbert Road, Suite A-7, Mesa
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This Mesa arcade bar is a popular spot for geekdom, nightlife, and game culture, and geeky nightlife events inspired by games. Numerous
Cobra Arcade Bar
801 North Second Street, #100
Downtown Phoenix’s Cobra Arcade Bar boasts a fantastic lineup of vintage coin-op games, as well as an artsy flair and hip verve. Cobra notches a high score in all these categories with its rotating selection of 40 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.
Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in April 2016.