Press Play: Come For the Drinks, Stay For the Games
Written By: Jessica Gomes
Photographed By: Josie Gonzales Best San Diego Arcade Bars
What do you call a place that has craft beer with good vibes, where you and your buddies can chill and play your favorite arcade games? It’s not your buddy Johnny’s house where you used to go to every weekend when you were a kid, but a new concept popping up all over San Diego. Cue “arcade bars,” aka hangouts where you can go solo or with friends to eat, drink, listen to music, mingle and, most importantly, play arcade games! #Throwback Thursday! Here are some of our top picks:
Best San Diego Arcade Bars
Game On: Aaron, the bar’s owner, rotates games in and out to keep his arcade new and fresh. You will find that the pool tables and air hockey zone are always busy, but if you’re there for the old-school games, the most popular are Daytona USA, NFL Blitz, Pac-Man and Galaga.
Drink Up: Before you start gaming, make a stop at the bar for one of their brews on draft, which are constantly rotating based on customer demand. They also offer classic cocktails if beers aren’t your thing.
Foodie Fuel: For bites, the bar’s clientele influence the menu, creating personal bar food options that are must-haves for regulars. If you’ve been coming to Brewski’s for a while, then you know about the “secret menu.” If not, hangout for a while and discover what it’s all about!
Native Knowledge: Brewski’s is open seven days a week, hosting happy hour from 4-8 p.m. Plus, they hold monthly pinball tournaments!
Brewskis Bar & Arcade
8670 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92126
Drink Up: Coin-Op pays attention to detail when it comes to their crafty cocktails. They even like to get fancy with the “beer cocktail” concept, with creations like the “1 Up,” which contains a pint of Stiegl Radler grapefruit beer and a shot of Mezcal.
Foodie Fuel: For nibbles, Chef Mark Bolton constructs the chef-driven, seasonal menu that is geared towards small bites and bar food that are in a league of their own. Chef Bolton opts for farm-to-table options, using local produce and game meats that make for cuisine that is enjoyable for their big kid demographic.
Game On: When you have your drink and nosh ordered, choose from the variety of games including Ms. Pac-Man, Pop-A-Shot, Street Fighter II, Big Buck Hunter and, of course, their pinball machines.
Native Knowledge: Coin-Op is open seven days a week, with happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m.
Living Like a Local: In addition to being an arcade bar, they like to call themselves an “industry bar,” constantly making friends with the locals that work in their neighborhood, creating relationships and exchanging business to support one another.
Drink Up: Focusing on bringing what they call an “honest” cocktail to the table, their drink menu is all about creating modern, multi-step versions of classics and fresh, local and house-made ingredients. You won’t find any stemware in-house, as they like to keep their cocktail consumption casual, simple and focused on what is inside rather than the receptacle.
Game On: Now that you’ve settled in at the bar, indulge in one of the games they have lined up for you to slay. Here, you will find Big Buck Safari and Pop-A-Shot, the latter of which Sidecar host tournaments for if you’re feeling competitive. For the classic arcade lovers, don’t worry, they also have a set up with Pac-Man and Galaga.
Living Like a Local: Sidecar loves to support the community. They provide ingredients sourced from nearby farms, make their syrups and fresh-squeezed juices daily and carry local breweries’ products and spirits from SD favorite, Ballast Point. Another fun fact? They don’t have a kitchen to provide food for their hungry patrons. Instead, they partner with popular food trucks so you can grab some fare outside and bring it inside, so as to not interrupt your winning streak.
Native Knowledge: Sidecar is open seven days a week, providing happy hour Monday through Friday with $1 off all beer, wine and cocktails.
1310 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
Game On: The 2,400-square-foot venue is banking on your teenage nostalgia. With almost 30 throwback classics, isn’t everyone a winner? Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Frogger and Pac-Man are a few of the classics that await you at this adult-only arcade. Plus, new challenges like Game of Thrones and Ghostbusters pinball are next to conquer. Let the games begin!
Drink Up: Coin Haus also has the region’s first self-serving taps! With so many to choose from, the first game will determine who can try the most. Everything from Boochcraft Kombucha, Cold Brew Coffee, 40 craft beers on tap—like local favorites from Thorn Street Barrio and Modern Times Black House—and wine options are all readily lined-up for you to clink the night away.
Living Like a Local: For a delicious bite before heading over to this bar arcade, you could stop by the Cohn Restaurant Group’s second spot on The Row—BO-beau kitchen + garden. CRG has over 25 locations in San Diego, plus two in Maui. For Coin Haus, they teamed-up with local designer Philippe Beltran to accomplish a modern industrial vibe by adding decor like recycled beer kegs, full-length garage-style doors and revamped chicken feeders as lighting.
Native Knowledge: Not only is Coin Haus open seven days a week, but they offer a daily ‘Hoppy Hour’ where you will receive 20 percent off beer and games.
8361 Allison Ave
La Mesa, CA 91942