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Purple Rain at Break Room 86
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Purple Rain at Break Room 86

Where to find the best arcade bars in Los Angeles

Quarters? Check. Game face? Check. We played our way through L.A.’s best arcade bars to find the ultimate game night out.

By Merin McDonald and Stephanie Breijo
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Sipping cocktails while toppling high scores is that beautiful utopia where adulthood meets childhood: You can stay out as late as you want, the retro vibes never cease, the beer flows freely and games cost as little as a quarter. We’ve compiled a list of the best adult-friendly arcade bars in the Los Angeles area, the kinds where you can both order a cocktail, some natural wine or a beer and play some Space Invaders. From a trendy Arts District bar to an Echo Park spot that doubles as a restaurant, here’s where to unleash your inner pinball wizard in L.A., all grown up.

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Save your quarters for these arcade bars

1. Button Mash

Restaurants Contemporary Asian Echo Park
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You might just slip in for a few rounds of Punch-Out or Galaga, but you’ll find yourself sticking around Echo Park’s Button Mash for its selection of craft beer and pan-Asian cuisine. The menu offerings, like crispy tofu balls, tamarind chicken wings, pork belly sandwiches and mouth-numbing dan dan noodles, are a far cry from the pizza rolls of your Nintendo days past, and offer more than enough sustenance to tackle a long night at the arcade. More than 30 cabinets—including classics like NBA JamMortal Kombat and Mario Bros.—and 10 pinball options impress everyone from button-mashers to ranked champions, who sip cans of craft tallboys and cider as they play. A separate room offers some classic and contemporary pinball machines from Game of Thrones to Waterworld. Colorful wallpaper, an upbeat soundtrack and old Wrestlemania videos complete an atmosphere that brings out the kid in you. Got kids, yourself? This spot is all-ages until 9pm every night. And remember to trade cash for tokens on your way in.

2. Two Bit Circus

Attractions Arcades and amusements Downtown Arts District
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A sprawling warehouse of a fun zone for kids in adult bodies, Two Bit Circus is the Arts District’s premier arcade hangout. The “micro-amusement park” combines virtual reality, escape rooms, motion-sensing carnival-esque attractions, old-school–inspired arcade games and trivia with exactly the kind of food and colorful, sprinkle-flecked drinks we would have designed when we were children. Sip your way through Ring-Pop–garnished cocktails, boozy watermelon lemonade and even the bar’s own house beers as you nosh on pizza, chili cheese fries, sliders and gelato ice cream sandwiches in between rounds of air hockey and pinball. Just load up your playing card with digital tokens and go wild.

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3. EightyTwo

Bars Downtown Arts District
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If ever there was a bar to geek out in, this is it. L.A.’s first modern arcade bar boasts 50 rotating quarter-fueled arcade and pinball consoles with cup holders for booze-fueled sessions. If you can see the latest high score or a versus battle projected on a wall, then you’ve found the only bar in the joint. Make your way over and you can choose from cocktails with names like Princess Peach, Zangief, Gallagher and Wizard Mode. Don’t skip the pinball tournaments, held the last Sunday of every month. Those less inclined to spend all of their hard-earned quarters can head to the tree-filled courtyard outside to nosh on food truck bites or steal some kisses under the stars.

4. Barcade

Bars Highland Park
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Grab some quarters—or don’t, they’ve got change machines—because Brooklyn’s Barcade finally hit L.A. and the Highland Park outpost boasts more than 70 games, including 12 pinball cabinets. There are around 30 craft beers and wines on tap, rotating daily, and should you get hungry, there’s a ton of straightforward and gut-busting classics available until as late (or, uh, early) as 2am. Think: mozzarella sticks, nachos, short rib poutine, wings and pizza bagels to fuel you up before you play another dozen rounds of Duck Hunt.

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5. The One Up

Bars Cocktail bars Sherman Oaks
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Marked by a glowing Space Invaders icon above the door, the One Up in Sherman Oaks adds a jolt of youth to this quiet stretch of Ventura Boulevard. Inside, you’ll find everyone diving into goat cheese tots and Cap’N Crunch chicken wings before wiping their hands and heading over to the arcade area. A selection of roughly 10 consoles offers free games, with an emphasis on classics: Donkey Kong, Centipede, Frogger, Jumping Jack and plenty more. Between levels, thirsty gamers make their way to the bar, where the nearly 20 beers are fairly standard but cocktails break the mold with drinks like Grown-Up Chocolate Milk and the 18-Hour Sling. On a date? Sip your liquid courage on comfy couches by the door, under the soft light of a neon sign that reads, “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

6. Walt’s Bar

Bars Beer bars Eagle Rock
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What happens when a dive bar meets pinball meets meticulous throwback touches? You get Walt’s Bar, Eagle Rock’s very own pinball hub serving California beer and natural wine, with pretzels, hot dogs, chips, hot nuts and plenty of Midwestern charm. Find pristine pinball games that date back to the ‘60s, and for as cheap as 25 cents a play. Go high with local craft beer and an elote pretzel, or low with canned beer and a hot dog, then settle in for 10 or so cabinets that rotate almost monthly. Don’t miss tournament nights every Wednesday at 8pm, with $5 buy-ins—and winner takes all. And don’t forget to bring some cash: While there’s a change machine, it only takes $1s and $5s. 

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7. Player One

Bars North Hollywood
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One of L.A.’s newest arcade bars, North Hollywood’s Player One brings the old-school feel of the ’80s and ’90s to life with plenty of retro game cabinets like TRON and Jurassic Park, plus competitive favorites like Super Smash Bros. It’s also one of L.A.’s largest, with 5,400 square feet for your gaming and drinking pleasure. Speaking of drinking, catch cocktails, sakes and beer—and on weekends, food trucks to soak it all up. There’s also Monday night trivia with geeky prizes, plus board game nights, the occasional dance party and live music, providing even more color to NoHo’s Arts District.

8. Game Over Pizza

Restaurants Pizza Hollywood
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Plenty of neon is normal for an arcade bar, but at Game Over, your skin practically bathes in it. Hot purple and bright blue set the tone for the on-theme slice shop and arcade from the team behind Adults Only (Hollywood’s only hidden bar disguised as an X-rated video store which, by the way, is right next door). And in addition to serving some absolutely solid New York-style pizza and thick squares, this slice shop is stocked with ’80s and ’90s classics like NBA Jam and Ms. Pac-Man. The kicker? It even offers craft beer and plenty of natural wine. Like childhood, all grown up.

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9. Break Room 86

Bars Cocktail bars Koreatown
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While the arcade in this Houston Brothers’ hidden ode to the ’80s really only amounts to a handful of machines, it’s worth mentioning that they’re all old-school and tons of fun (hello, OG Donkey Kong). The atmosphere at Break Room 86 is all-immersive, so you can count on great ’80s pop background music while you’re plugging away at Galaga or Pac-Man, and the possibility of break dancers while you’re sipping on your tequila Ecto Cooler. While it may be difficult to get a game in when this place gets packed on the weekends, consider a Wednesday or Thursday visit, when one of the bar’s private karaoke suites is open to the public (but if you’re really serious about karaoke, you can reserve a room with special packages). Okay, so you’re probably not going to come here for the games alone, but are you really going to resist an alcoholic push-up pop from the grown-up ice cream truck on the patio? We didn’t think so. 

10. Blipsy Bar

Bars Dive bars Hollywood
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This K-town dive is L.A.’s OG arcade bar. It’s relatively nondescript from the outside, but inside, it’s a darkly lit hybrid of childhood amusements and adult inebriation. The selection of games is ample, with a focus on ‘80s classics—just don’t expect them to be in tip-top shape; in a bar where drinks are this cheap and stiff, there’s bound to be a few sticky buttons. If games aren’t your thing, there’s always dancing—from Monday to Saturday, Blipsy hosts live DJs playing everything from ’70s rock and metal to hip-hop and Caribbean dancehall, while beer, wine, liquor, sake and soju bask in the blacklight glow. Be warned: This spot is cash only.

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11. Dave and Buster’s

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Like Chuck E. Cheese with beer (and minus the terrifying animatronics), this massive arcade chain becomes an adults-only playground every night. Yes, it’s a little more bro-y than the other arcade bars on our list, but it does the trick if you want to be playing Skee-Ball in between sips of Bud Light. You’ll find beer, cocktails and bar food here, along with billiards and shuffleboard for analog entertainment. Most of the activity is centered around arcade cabinets, chance games and ride-like experiences tied into video game, movie and iPhone app franchises—in other words, expect to keep recharging that Power Card throughout the night. D&B was once limited to the far-out ’burbs, but in L.A. you can find it both in the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center and at the top of the Hollywood & Highland mall in Hollywood.

12. XLanes

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The holy grail of arcade games and bowling, XLanes in Little Tokyo is a virtual paradise for hang sessions. Our only complaint: not enough air hockey tables. If you’re looking for a high-energy club vibe without the aimless standing around, plus the added exhilaration of 24 Lanes of LED-lit bowling, this is your sanctuary. With more than 100 arcade cabinets, a billiard room and karaoke (’90s power ballads, anyone?), there’s no shortage of entertainment for your geek squad. XLanes also boasts a restaurant and a full sports bar, so you can order a round of mozzarella sticks and a pint or two, then bogart the Dance, Dance Revolution pad and make a night of it.

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