Best pinball machine spots in New York City

Bring a pocketful of quarters and try for the high score at one of Gotham’s top pinball spots.

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History was made in 1976, when New York City lifted its 30-year ban on pinball machines—before that, they were considered gambling devices and were therefore illegal. These days, you can find the machines in bars, skate shops, even Laundromats. Just make sure to bring enough quarters…or dollar bills, as the case may be.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Mission Dolores

    Mission Dolores

  • Photograph: Courtesy Mission Dolores

  • Photograph: Courtesy Reciprocal Skateboards

    Reciprocal Skateboards

  • Photograph: Courtesy Reciprocal Skateboards

    Reciprocal Skateboards

  • Photograph: Courtesy Reciprocal Skateboards

    Reciprocal Skateboards

  • Amsterdam Billiards

  • Photograph: Stephen Kosloff

    Ace Bar

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Bar Great Harry

  • Photograph: Courtesy Satellite Lounge

    Satellite Lounge

  • Photograph: Bex Wade

    Barracuda

Photograph: Courtesy Mission Dolores

Mission Dolores

Satellite Lounge

  • Price band: 1/4

Pinball aficionado Allen Cihak, who rents a warehouse in Greenpoint to accommodate his overflowing collection of pinball machines, loaned some of his favorites to Satellite Lounge when it opened last year. The seven games (including Spider-Man and Batman) stationed by the front window lend an air of playfulness to the no-frills bar.

  1. 143 Havemeyer St between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
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Reciprocal Skateboards

The nine games at this skateboarding shop attract a crowd of both teenage and fully grown pinball jockeys. Owner John E., who organizes a small, one-day tournament called Pinferno every few months, says he loves it when people come in off the street, and even admits, “If I could, I would play all day. I put my heart and my time into these games.” Current offerings include Twilight Zone and Creature from the Black Lagoon.


  1. 402 E 11th St between First Ave and Ave A

Mission Dolores

  • Price band: 1/4

Both the classic Attack from Mars and Spider-Man can be found at this auto-shop-turned-bar with heated floors. Co-owner Scott Stubbs offers these words of wisdom to hesitant players: “Use your body. Don’t be afraid to nudge the machine—a gentle nudge can sometimes do the trick.”

  1. 249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn
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Bar Great Harry

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Co-owners Ben and Mike Wiley, brothers who also own the nearby Mission Dolores, share their pinball obsession with a frequently updated collection that currently includes Medieval Madness and Lord of the Rings. Choose from more than 20 frequently rotated beers on tap, and then head to the cozy back room, featuring red walls and a mounted deer head, to start gaming.

  1. 280 Smith St at Sackett St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
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Ace Bar

  • Price band: 1/4

Arcade games are the centerpiece at this nostalgic East Village hot spot, stocked with two pool tables, two dartboards, two Skee-Ball lanes and Big Buck Hunter, in addition to a pair of pinball machines. When you’re ready to take a break from playing Transformers, investigate the bar’s vintage-lunch-box collection and ample jukebox.

  1. 531 E 5th St between Aves A and B
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Amsterdam Billiards and Bar

Behind its red neon sign, this East Village pool hall has a few ways to keep you blissfully gaming for hours: beer pong, Ping-Pong, billiards, darts, foosball and, of course, pinball. The machines include Family Guy and High Speed, based on designer Steve Ritchie’s run-in with a highway patrolman.

  1. 110 E 11th St at Fourth Ave
More info

Barracuda

You haven’t made the most of the Chelsea nightlife scene until you’ve crammed into the front room at Barracuda and played a few rounds on the AC/DC pinball machine, equipped with 12 classic hits from the rock band.

  1. 275 W 22nd St at Seventh Ave
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The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate

There’s live music (and no cover) six nights a week at this Park Slope cocktail bar, which also hosts a comedy open mike every Wednesday at 6pm. Check out Bally Paragon (1979), a fantasy game claimed by some to be “the most beautiful pinball machine ever made,” or the 2002 Playboy, inspired by Hugh Hefner’s magazine. (fifthestatebar.com, 718-840-0089)

  1. 506 Fifth Ave between 12th and 13th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn

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1 comments
ar22
ar22

Check Sunshine Laundromat at 860 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint Brooklyn. They've got all the top Bally/WMS dot matrix games form the 90s and all in amazing condition. Medieval Madness, Theatre of Magic, Monster Bash, Twilight Zone, Addams Family, Indiana Jones the Pinball Adventure, Terminator 2, Attack From Mars, Star Trek Next Generation, etc. If you're looking for the absolute top of the line titles, this is the place to go.