After a long hard week at work, sometimes you just want to unwind with a cold beer, a grilled cheese, and some Super Mario Bros.
Hugely popular with Gen X and Y-ers who grew up with old-school games like Super Mario World and NBA Jam, or pizza-joint classics like Frogger and Pac-Man, adult arcades mix craft ales with vintage video and console games. Some go old school, with pinball or duckpin bowling.
So, children of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, hit the road and bask in pixelated nostalgia. Here are a few trip-worthy spots for getting your Donkey Kong on.
It makes sense to first mention Barcade. Although the portmanteau is sometimes used to describe any bar with an arcade, Barcade, established in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2004, has trademarked the word. There are five locations: three in New York, one in Philadelphia, one in Jersey City. All are 21-plus with games at 25 or 50 cents per play. Note that games, beer, and food menus vary and rotate at each location. It’s best to call ahead if you’re hunting for a specific game.
The list of games at any of the locations would have made your 11-year-old head spin. At the St. Mark’s Place Barcade in the East Village, for example, games include Super Mario Bros., Batman Forever, Mortal Kombat II, Tetris, Marvel Super Heroes, The Simpsons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Beer lists change often, but recent brews include Arcadia Cereal Killer Barley Wine, Chelsea Checker Cab Blonde, Midnight Sun Modern Romance, Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA, and Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout. Fare includes barbecue burger sliders, fried chicken, and maple-bacon wings. 6 St. Mark’s Place, New York. 212-388-0522, barcade.com.
At the original Brooklyn Barcade, dozens of games include Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, RoboCop, Rambo III, Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, and NBA Jam Tourna-ment Edition. Recent brews include Allagash Confluence, Speakeasy Black Hand, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, Downeast Cider, and Harpoon Summer Beer. Brooklyn is the only Barcade location that doesn’t serve food, but they do allow deliveries, so you can call and order pizza while playing WWF Super Stars — just like in middle school. 388 Union Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 718-302-6464.
Arcadia National Bar in Portland, Maine, is like going to your elementary school friend’s house, the one who had all the good games and whose mom made the best grilled cheese.
Yes, they serve grilled cheese, along with craft beers. The rotating list includes local Maine ales from Rising Tide, Bunker Brewing, and Marshall Wharf. Arcadia also has consoles, including Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation, PlayStation 4, and Wii U, and plenty of cartridge games. You can also play board games, pinball, and classic arcade games. Check Arcadia’s calendar on Facebook, as it often has tournaments and events. Must be 21 or older. Consoles are free; arcade games are 25 cents; pinball 50 cents. 24 Preble St., Portland, Maine. 207-747-4958, www.facebook.com/ArcadiaNationalBar/
When was the last time you played Atari on console? Head to Tilt in Burlington, Vt., where other consoles include N64, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis, along with dozens of cartridges. Cabinet games include pizza-joint classics like Atari’s Centipede, Asteroids, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Galaga, and Pac-Man. And pinball wizards, have at it. Games include Tron: Legacy, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and The Addams Family. Cartridge games are free; cabinet games 25 cents, and pinball 50 to 75 cents.
Tilt serves farm-to-table beers, ciders, wines, and craft cocktails. The beer list rotates, but many are Vermont-made by breweries including Queen City, Burlington Beer Co., Fiddlehead, and Citizen Cider. The food is chiefly Vermont-sourced and organic, and includes GMO-free buffalo wings, hand-cut fiddlehead fries, fried avocado tacos, and quinoa burgers with Grafton cheddar. There’s also a “Little Gamers” menu, with PB&J, fish tacos, organic milk, etc. 7 Fayette Road, South Burlington, Vt. 802-489-5350, tiltvt.com
At The Quarters in Hadley, vintage video games include Mortal Kombat II, Space Invaders, NBA Jam, Atari’s Millipede and The Simpsons. Try one of the local hot dogs, or mini pups, which include the Mac Pup, with bacon-and-panko-crusted mac ’n’ cheese, and the Kimchi Pup, with kimchi, scallions, and Korean barbecue. They also serve pulled-pork sliders, Parmesan and rosemary fries, and chicken and waffles with real maple syrup and whipped butter, among other culinary delights. Ice cream truck treats include childhood faves like Choco Tacos, Klondike bars and FrozFruit pops. Visitors can also relive the Saturday mornings of yesteryear with “Super Cereal Saturday” — with a cereal buffet, cartoons, and games from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 8 Railroad St., Hadley. 413-429-4263, hadleyquarters.com. All ages except for Friday and Saturday nights after 9 p.m., when it becomes 21-plus.
Roll old-school at Legion Bowl and Billiards in Cranston, R.I., with hand-score duckpin bowling, billiards, and arcade games. The bar and kitchen serve up brews, chicken quesadillas, pulled pork nachos, and BLT sliders. A nostalgic little stop if you love air hockey, skeeball, and earning tickets for colorful trinkets — the kind you and your friends used to go crazy trying to win, only to forget in the back seat of someone’s mom’s car. 661 Park Ave., Cranston, R.I. 401-781-8888, legionbowlinc.com.
Relive the joy of your 9th birthday party at Nomad’s Adventure Quest in South Windsor, Conn. This one’s not a gamer haven but an “all-ages entertainment complex” with arcade games, rock-climbing wall, mini bowling, bumper cars, basketball, laser tag, mini golf, and more. Onsite Red’s Tavern offers full bar and dining. 100 Bidwell Road, South Windsor, Conn. 860-290-1177, nomadsadventurequest.com.Lauren Daley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.