Grab your singles, your fives and as many quarters as you can wrangle from between the cushions because Eagle Rock’s new pinball and arcade throwback of a neighborhood bar is now open. You’ll recognize Walt’s Bar by the rainbow of letters spelling “PINBALL!” and a few more hand-painted signs yelling “FINE WINE” and “HOT DOGS,” which is truly all anyone should need to get sucked into a bar, but absolutely not all there is to know about this spot.
The space that’s previously stood as an ice cream parlor, a Scandinavian home-goods store and an auto-parts shop now sports wood-paneled walls, a taxidermied raccoon, 10 or so pinball machines, a slick orange-colored bar, German pretzels, a high-scores bulletin board, hot dogs, a patio, chips, 11 beers—most of them on draft and local—plus a handful of wines all from California, with the exception of a French rosé.
The first three cabinets against the wall are electro-mechanicals, or “EMs,” some of the earliest models of the game. They’re also some of the dearest to the owners’ hearts—it’s what you get, after all, when you grow up tinkering with ’60s and ’70s machines as brothers Jeff and Brad Johnsen did. The second cabinet in is a ’60s gem, Surf Champ, and it’s been in the Johnsen family ever since their father Walt brought it home from a yard sale. He’s now the Eagle Rock bar’s namesake, and his purchase is what kicked off a lifetime of pinball curiosity for both of his sons, eventually leading Brad to open Add-a-Ball in Seattle with friend Travis Echert.
Echert and both Johnsen boys went in on Walt’s Bar, which opened on Friday night and offers Northeast L.A. pinball, beer and snacks from 11am til 2am every single day. Most cabinets will set you back 50 cents per play—don’t worry, there’s a change machine for ones and fives—while the EMs only cost a quarter. Every month or two, the games will rotate from the trio’s collection of 200-or-so cabinets, and every Wednesday at 8pm you can catch tournament night, with a $5 buy-in and winner takes all.
Walt’s Bar is located at 4680 Eagle Rock Boulevard, open from 11am to 2am daily.