A pixelated illustration of a banana peel opening to reveal a cocktail.
(Ross May / Los Angeles Times)

7 arcade bars to level up your night in L.A. (and relive your childhood)

Arcade games are a thing of fantasy and escape. Steve Kordek, who revolutionized pinball by introducing the concept of dual flippers in 1948, knew how to pique a gamer’s imagination: “What attracts a player, first, is the pictures on the back glass of the game,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 2009. “Second, if what he sees on the play field is different, that’s a success. And when the features are so exciting that he wants to put more money in it, you’ve got him.”

Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of stops around Los Angeles with games ready for playtime. These bars are equipped with not only pinball and video games but cocktail menus, craft beer, wines on tap and happy-hour specials. Whether you’re gathering with family and friends or just feel like getting in a few rounds of Joust, there’s a fun-filled arcade destination waiting for you.

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People play at pinball machines.


Highland Park Arcade bar
With two dozen craft beers and a handful of wines on tap, Barcade is great for gamer hopheads and winos alike. The Highland Park location, which opened not long before the COVID-19 pandemic, is the Los Angeles outpost for the chain, which originally started in New York. Games run the gambit from classic (Asteroids) to modern (Stranger Things pinball) to even holographic, costing one to three tokens per play (you can put your tokens on your bar tab).

Barcade has a recently revamped food menu with plenty of vegan options. There’s Wi-Fi and a TV screen at the bar, along with a small sidewalk patio for a pandemic-safe home base. Happy hour is every day from noon to 7 p.m. and includes $1 off beer, well drinks and wine. (There’s also a special where you can get any $8 beer and a shot of Four Roses Bourbon for $10.) The first Sunday of every month is Family Day, when you can bring the kids around until evening.
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People stand in a large room with benches, tables and pinball machines.
(Laure Joliet / Button Mash)

Button Mash

Echo Park Arcade bar
Everyone in the Echo Park neighborhood is happy that Button Mash is back after a hiatus during the pandemic. This craft beer destination with a dozen pours on tap and a wide selection of cans and bottles has changed up its food, with Tacos 1986 now taking the helm in the kitchen. Think corn tortilla tacos filled with adobada (pork al pastor) shaved off the trompo, steak, chicken or mushroom — with the option to have them prepared el perrón-style con todo (with raw onion, cilantro beans and guac sauce) or as vampiros (between two crispy tortillas), mulitas (between two tender tortillas) or quesadillas.

Original vintage games from the ’70s and ’80s abound here, along with a dozen pinball machines from a full range of eras. Feeling physical? Button Mash has just enough to get you going, with mini-skeeball, hoops, extreme whack-a-mole and air hockey. Plenty of seating options make it the perfect place for a gathering of any size, with bar seating, high-tops, tables and booths available.
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A bartender works at a blue-lit bar in a dark room.
(Blipsy Bar)

Blipsy Bar

Larchmont Arcade bar
The oldest, grungiest arcade bar on the list sits on the west side of Western Avenue in an unmarked storefront. Open since 2010, Blipsy offers the best soundtrack via the jukebox near the front entrance, a sound system that rivals that of music clubs around the city and DJ nights practically every night (there are turntables too). Dive bar enthusiasts will feel right at home here; remember to bring cash for drinks and original games, most of which cost a quarter to play. Happy hour runs until 8 p.m.; well drinks are $7 each and bottled beers are $1 off. On Mondays, it’s “Caribbean to Oblivion” with DJ-mixed music from the islands and $9 margaritas made with real lime and a touch of sugar available all night.
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The outside of a bar with stools and outdoor seating and a neon sign that says Pinball!
(Esther Tseng)

Walt's Bar

Eagle Rock Arcade bar
This all-pinball hang in a former plumber shop has a local-soda-fountain vibe. Having just celebrated its fourth anniversary, Walt’s is the place for pinball champions and Occidental College students (and their families) alike. Eight brew taps feature local breweries, and the food menu offers a formidable, plump and tasty hot dog, croque-monsieurs, croque-madames and other food specials with ingredients from small, local purveyors. During the week, Walt’s hosts crazy Wednesday night pinball tournaments starting at 8 p.m., where the buy-in is just $5 per person. Set under its retro, neon plumber façade is plenty of outdoor seating, so you can take in the sun during the day and make your way back inside for a taste of Eagle Rock nightlife after dark.
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A row of pinball machines in a dark room with several people standing in front of them.


Downtown L.A. Arcade bar
Perfectly nestled within the plethora of Arts District restaurants, bars and shops is EightyTwo — a seven-year-old arcade bar that has a vast outdoor patio to rival any other L.A. establishment. Upon entering, you’ll find two to three dozen pinball machines on the right and classic video games on the left. The full bar offers top-notch, high-end spirits from the back bar as well as 10 beer taps and a few cans and bottles. Get your tokens at the bar too, at a rate of 20 for $5. You won’t find any food here, as EightyTwo is primed to be one stop of many during a night in the Arts District and recognizes the great offerings by its neighbors — De La Nonna, Salt and Straw, Wurstküche and adjacent Little Tokyo.
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A bar with a large wall of drinks and TV screens and a line of empty barstools
(Esther Tseng)

The One Up

Sherman Oaks Arcade bar
The One Up is the perfect Ventura Boulevard hangout — with its many enclaves of lounge-style seating — that’s perfect for groups. All play is absolutely free, and there are dozens of games loaded into each machine so you have no shortage to choose from (no original-game purists needed). Craft cocktails featuring a wide range of spirits are the focus here and tend to be the most popular drinks ordered. Its food menu is both kitschy and surprisingly solid, with the Cap’n Crunch (it’s in the batter and a dust on top) buttermilk chicken wings served with Louisiana hot sauce being a hit. Want to catch a game? There are screens situated around the bar area, which the staff are happy to turn to your sporting event of choice.
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Brightly lighted pinball machines line a wall in a dark room.
(Adam Arnali / PlayerOne)

Player One

North Hollywood Arcade bar
Player One in downtown North Hollywood is perfect for those craving not only driving games but other kinds of games that tend to take up a good amount of real estate. We’re talking Dance Dance Revolution and Mario Kart but also a four-player Pac Man Battle Royale with a projector screen above. Upon entering, you’ll be reminded to grab a drink at the bar, where there is a selection of video game-themed cocktails. Craving late-night karaoke? Stop by on Thursdays and Sundays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. to fulfill all your song-singing urges between games of air hockey and foosball with friends. The center bar area is perfect for gathering, with two screens where you can watch a game or reruns of your favorite ’80s shows with closed captioning.
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