DMV establishments have ‘leveled up’ lately with a surge of arcade and game bars that have cropped up in the area. If you like drinking and games (that’s part of living the #FrayLife, right?), this list of modern hipster-y Dave & Buster’s is for you.
From bowling to Pac-Man, Cards Against Humanity to checkers, mini golf to axe throwing, pool to shuffleboard, and Jenga to skeeball, there is literally a bar activity for every kind of game player inside and outside of the beltway. Take your adulting hat off for a minute and embrace your inner kid.
Relive the era of the 80s and 90s arcade with a brew at Atlas on H street. This intimate bar is filled with mostly vintage arcade and console games including Sega, N64, pinball, Big Buck Hunter, Mortal Kombat, and even a claw crane so you can get frustrated grasping at stuffed toys.
Atlas Arcade’s sister bar, Idle Hands, is right upstairs and includes a large selection of analog games (Twister, Candy Land, Meme?, etc) in addition to video games (Ms. Pac-Man, Super Nintendo, et al.). They offer craft beers, wine, and fine cocktails. Check out the menu and full list of games here.
This three-story bar has giant Jenga, shuffleboard, skee ball, and a delightfully cheeky District-themed mini golf course ($9/person). With its nice rooftop and tasty tacos on the menu, this bar is definitely worth a visit.
You will need to travel a little outside the beltway for this one, but it’s worth the trip no matter your skill level (plus some locations have miniature golf courses). Practice your swing, have a beer, and definitely order the injectable donut holes.
The closest locations in the DMV are Alexandria, Loudon, Baltimore, National Harbor (coming soon), and Germantown.
This space looks like an upscale version of a stereotypical 1970s basement. Can you see it? The orangey-brown, mustard-gold color palette, toned down wallpaper, ample wood paneling, and retro furniture? It’s like that, but they’ve made it cool by going all-out with the 70s theme.Player’s Club has foosball, pool tables, pinball, old-school arcade games, and more.
#FrayLife Tip: They have an arrangement with Shake Shack upstairs where you can order burgers without having to leave the bar.
Reserve a bowling lane or bocce court at Pinstripes in Georgetown or Bethesda. There are a lot of cocktail, drink, and food choices (brunch, too!).
#FrayLife Tip: Keep in mind their locations are in Georgetown and Bethesda, so expect Georgetown and Bethesda prices.
The future of gaming is… in Shaw at Flash nightclub?
No, that’s not a typo. Or an episode of Black Mirror. Augment Arcade brings virtual reality to the bar where patrons can access this high-tech gaming trend for $20 a pop. Employees are there to teach newbies how to use VR to shoot zombies or walk Google Earth–sky’s the (virtual) limit!
#FrayLife Tip: Double check their hours of operation. Right now they are only open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
This spot in Chinatown across the street from the Verizon Center has been around for a while. It’s an underground bar particularly popular on game days, so plan your visit accordingly. Take your pick of pool tables, darts, shuffleboard, and skeeball.
Whether you are watching games on their selection of giant screens or playing games yourself, Penn Social has a wide range of ways to play. They’ve got foosball, cornhole, skeeball, shuffleboard, board games, ping pong, Connect 4, and Pop-a-Shot to name a few.
#FrayLife Tip: Trivia nights can get very crowded. Make sure you get there early when there are seats left to be claimed.
The Eleanor is a self-described “bowling lounge” and is a new addition to the NoMa neighborhood. They have a lot of entertainment here including duckpin bowling, skee ball, and arcade games. Their food is locally sourced and the menu changes seasonally.
Armed with an arsenal of board games from wall-to-wall, Board Room is a great spot to interact with others over a friendly game of your choice. There are heaps of beer, wine, and cocktail choices to sip on during play.
There are Board Room locations on both sides of the Potomac River in Dupont Circle and Clarendon.
This massive new bar in Clarendon was built for entertainment with two levels of seating, three bars, a champagne room, arcade games, jumbo screens, a photo booth, and televisions lining the walls. Games include skeeball, World’s Largest Pac-Man, Frogger, and NFL Blitz 2000 among others.
Lyman’s is a hip casual bar in Petworth perfect for the pinball wizards out there. Pinball machines line the wall adjacent to the bar where the beer and food is reasonably priced. For a dive bar, people really rave about the food and patio. Dogs welcome!
Ok so this isn’t your typical arcade but it’s equally as awesome. You don’t have to be a lumberjack to partake in the mountain man’s version of darts (really big, sharp, heavy darts). At Kraken Axes in D.C. Axe Masters are there to supervise and teach you the art of axe throwing while you compete against your friends. Flannel optional.
#FrayLife Tip: You are welcome to BYO food, but not drinks. Full beverage and bar options are available for purchase on-site.
We didn’t realize how many arcade bars there are in DC until we put this list together. Do you know of any we missed? Let us know by tagging us on social using #FrayLife
Want other awesome bars in DC? Here are 5 where you can drink in secret.
View More Articles By Anna Jacoby