I don’t know about you, but I often reminisce about my teenage years spent at the bowling alley, or the pool hall, playing classic arcade games such as Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and Donkey Kong. (I am showing my age there, I know).
I was thinking about this recently, and it got me wondering, how many places in Houston still offer old-school arcade games?
Of course, I jumped at the chance to start researching this. Although some of them were places I was already very familiar with, being the gaming nerd that I am, I didn’t know some existed until now.
So I have put this guide together to bring these places to your attention, so the next time you want a trip down memory lane in the form of gaming and arcades, you will know exactly where to find the bars to head to.
Best Bars With Old-School Gaming Arcades in Houston
During this guide, I have put together all the information you’ll need to find the best arcade bar for you. So as well as looking at what cool games they offer, I have also checked out what makes them stand out from the crowd.
I have looked at dining options, whether or not they’re family-friendly, where they’re located and what kind of music or live events they host.
I have also noted some of the pricing; to give you a brief idea of what you can expect to spend on your night out.
So, I know you’re dying to see where you can find these cool places, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are my top picks, in no particular order, for the best places in Houston for old-school gaming and arcades.
1. Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge
Poison Girl Cocktail Bar is popular with whiskey connoisseurs because of its extensive whiskey selection. It offers whiskeys from all over the world, including a wide range of American whiskeys.
However, you don’t have to be a whiskey specialist to visit this funky, unique bar. It attracts quite a trendy and upbeat crowd of a mixed age range.
There is a great ambiance inside, with dark lights and liquor bottles stacked to the ceiling behind the bar. Brightly colored neon signs are hung around the building in bright pink, yellows, and oranges, giving the bar an overall red glow.
They have arcade games, such as pinball, which are retro. However, a couple of them may be a little too old-fashioned and look like they’re in desperate need of a refurb. You also have the chance to play Pacman. Still, it only adds to the old-worldly memories of gaming.
They have a lovely patio where you can sit outside and enjoy the hipster atmosphere. As far as diversity goes, anyone is made to feel welcome at this eccentric dive bar.
There is no food served at this bar, so it’s typically somewhere you will go to enjoy pinball and a few cocktails or glasses of whiskey.
2. Kung Fu Saloon
I came about Kung Fu Saloon after hearing recommendations from others and eventually decided to try it out for myself.
I was greeted with a fantastic atmosphere, great music, and a fabulous mix of people of all ages.
This isn’t somewhere that is set up for a family sit down, so best to call in the babysitter if you’re planning on visiting them. It almost has nightclub vibes, especially on the weekend.
They have old-school arcade games such as pinball, street fighter, and mortal dragon, which are all great fun and will take you right back to your childhood.
Regarding the clientele, it did attract the younger crowd. However, it wasn’t an uncomfortable environment for us oldies like some of these trendy bars can be.
I didn’t experience anything untoward during my visit, and the staff seemed friendly and accommodating. However, I understand others may not have had this experience.
After my visit, I decided to check them out online and noticed they had a couple of unhappy customers.
The only other negative is that the parking is a little expensive. If you park across the road, it will cost you $20.00, or you can park a bit of a hike away for $10.00.
Food is available, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything to shout about, just a small bar menu. So I would advise having a proper meal before you go; you could be in there for a while once you get hooked onto those games.
I highly recommend attending when they have the DJ on. He’s entertaining and keeps the night alive, just pop over to their website or give the club a call to find details of when he’s next on.
Find Out More: 8 Breathtaking Nightclubs to Enjoy Nightlife in Houston, TX
3. The Dive
If you’re looking for a grunge-style club, great music, and fantastic old-school arcade games, then The Dive in Downtown Houston is the place to be.
The place has a great atmosphere and good vibes, and the staff is all friendly and welcoming. The drinks are cheap, and they have an excellent variety of music. I also must warn you they don’t skimp on the alcohol content of their cocktails here, so go steady if you want to beat your mates at those arcade games.
Also, the arcade games are all free, which was a nice little bonus.
They have a great food choice from the food truck, which is situated outside. I grabbed a delicious burger while there, which was valued at under $10.00. I am unsure whether the food truck is open every day, but they are always there on weekends.
Aside from the amazing arcade games, they are most well-known for their awesome sound system, which will blow your mind when it gets going on a Friday and Saturday night, so if you love a bit of drum and bass and dubstep, get yourself to this retro bar as soon as you get the chance.
4. Cidercade Houston
Now, suppose we’re talking about variety in the form of gaming. In that case, I can’t underestimate how much Cidercade has to offer. In fact, it has over 275 different games to choose from; I couldn’t believe it when I first visited.
So, I will say that if you’re a big gamer and you’re heading here to spend a couple of hours trying out what they have to offer, scrap that idea and allow yourself an entire day because there is no way you’ll want to leave.
From Golden Axe to Pinball and driving games to Jurassic park, you’ll find every game you can think of here.
Aside from the games, they also have food trucks which change regularly, and you have the option to take your food too.
As the food options change so often, the same goes for the pricing. However, many of them are in line with most other street vendor prices, between $10.00 and $15.00 for a meal.
Some examples of the food you can sample are tacos, cajun dishes, Cuban food, and sliders, amongst many others. Check out their website for upcoming vendors.
Love cider? As you’ve probably guessed from the name, arcades and cider are what this place does best, and the best part is all of their drinks are homebrewed.
I highly recommend trying the Butter Beer Cider. I had to order this because of my love for Harry Potter. Still, it quickly became my favorite drink on the menu, and at $8.00 a drink, it’s worth every cent.
If you’re looking to book somewhere for a special occasion, why not call these guys to arrange a private party? Imagine 10s or even hundreds of your closest friends and family with the joint to yourself, enjoying a never-ending arcade game! Sounds like the perfect bachelorette party idea to me
Find More Perfect Spots for Bachelorette Parties: 8 Best Bachelorette Party Ideas in Houston, TX
5. Joystix/Eighteen Twenty Lounge
Suppose you’re looking to host your next team-building event and want something unique, fun, and entertaining that will get the whole group involved. In that case, Joystix is somewhere you should consider.
Aside from the multitude of games they offer, such as Batman, Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong, they also have a cool bar/lounge where you can take your pick of drinks, such as cider and craft beers.
The bar, called The Eighteen Twenty Lounge, is the oldest lounge in Downtown Houston; it has a cozy atmosphere, with comfortable couches and leather armchairs, low ceilings, and dark interiors, which gives it a real historic feeling. All this just adds to the retro vibes.
More About: Top 8 Must-Visit Historical Sites in Houston, TX
6. Neil’s Bahr
Suppose you’re a similar age to me. In that case, the thought of spending an afternoon or evening playing 90s Nintendo games while clutching an ice-cold beer will have you rushing to grab your coat.
Suppose I was to suggest a place that was the most reminiscent of my teenage years, sitting around at a friend’s house, each with a remote controller in our hands on a Sunday afternoon. In that case, this is the place that comes closest.
If you’re looking for a cool bar to kick back and relax while enjoying an evening of gaming, then I don’t know if it gets any more perfect than Neil’s Bahr.
The drinks are cheap, at around $5.00 each. The vibes are good, and there is an abundance of comics to flick through between games.
They often have a food truck outside, which serves food until quite late into the evening, which means they have everything I could want out of a gaming bar.
Let’s Wrap Things Up
If you’re anything like me, you will already have your coat and shoes on and be heading out to one of these fantastic gaming bars for a trip back in time! And I don’t blame you. I would be too!
However, before you go, if you want to check out some other great things to do in Houston, such as A Complete Guide to The 5 Best Museums in Houston, TX, and 9 Exciting Things to Do in Houston on Thanksgiving Day.