Looking to shake up your weekend plans? It could be as simple as finding a great pinball machine! No matter how you want to keep yourself entertained, there’s something for everyone at these awesome arcade bars in the Bay Area. Scroll to the bottom for an interactive map and start planning your next outing.
Emporium is one of San Francisco’s most beloved arcade bars, with everything from pinball and Frogger to pool and shuffleboard. Whether you’re into video games or table games, this vibrant spot is well equipped to handle both large and small groups. If that weren’t enough, they also have a full bar with over 50 different types of whiskey, plus craft beer, cider, boozy slushies, and more. The Oakland location has comfort food like creamy potatoes and fried chicken, and the SF location encourages guests to bring their own food or have it delivered. They also put on live music events featuring talented local musicians and DJs. If you’re looking for a party, this is your spot!
Locations: 616 Divisadero St, San Francisco and 1805 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
2. Outer Orbit
Outer Orbit is known for their delicious Hapa-Hawaiian food menu, which features amazing hot chicken wings, boozy shaved ice, yakisoba noodles, and sake. They also have curated a nice collection of retro and modern pinball machines featuring Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. Pair all of that with their impressive craft beer menu, and you’re set.
Location: 3215 Mission St, San Francisco
3. The Detour
Here’s another amazing arcade bar with a packed event lineup every week. In addition to dozens of essential arcade and pinball games, they have a solid board game collection with everything from Jenga to Cards Against Humanity. The exciting menu offers a ton of options inspired by Asian street food with a California twist, plus a full bar. What’s more, there’s a special theme or event every day of the week with everything from trivia nights to Drag Race viewing parties.
Location: 2200A Market St, San Francisco
This enormous arcade bar opened in SoMa last year. The new Thriller Social Club is making strides with an $85,000 golf simulator, an eight-lane Skee-Ball set-up, and endless carnival and arcade games. The two-floor space is stocked with all the nostalgia you could want from an arcade bar, such as Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Pop-a-Shot, Connect 4, Ring Toss, Down the Clown, Baseball Throw, and Punching game
Location: 508 4th St, San Francisco
You can’t do much better than an amazing pizza with a quality craft beer to wash it down, but this essential spot in Los Altos takes it up another notch with their impressive collection of 90s arcade and pinball machines. Their award-winning pizza is made with organic slow-proofed dough and topped with fresh, local ingredients that celebrate California.
Location: 101 Plaza N, Los Altos
This enormous beer garden has an insane amount of things to do! The arcade itself has all the essentials in a big high-ceilinged space, but it’s really just the beginning. They also have a bowling alley, bocce ball, an enormous outdoor patio, and a lovely menu of comfort food made with local ingredients. If you’re looking for some more high-brow games, they also have a private bowling available for rent, a private loft with a billiards table, a large lounge space and outside deck with shuffleboard and ping pong, and more. It’s a great place to check out if you’re entertaining a big group.
Location: 98 Broadway, Oakland
7. LVL Up
If you’re into retro arcade bars, be sure to make a stop at LVL Up, born out of 90s nostalgia and boasting a collection of 25 classic arcade games and pinball machines curated by video game historians and collectors. The games are accompanied by a menu featuring high-end pub fare and an exciting selection of themed cocktails. LVL Up’s goal is to transport patrons back to a simple time, recreating the feeling of being a “child with a pocket full of quarters.”
Locations: 409 S 2nd St, San Jose and 400 E Campbell Ave, Campbell
8. Round 1
Round One Entertainment is an enormous chain of arcades with 3 locations in the Bay Area. In Hayward’s Southland Mall you’ll find bowling, arcade games, karaoke, and billiards; and in Concord’s Sunvalley Mall and San Jose’s Eastridge Shopping Center you’ll find all of the above, plus ping pong and darts. This is more of a classic mall arcade experience, so don’t expect the swanky, curated game selection you’ll see at other spots on this list. But sometimes simple is better, and here you’ll find big shareable pizzas, wings, appetizers, soft drinks, and affordable draft beer. Specific menu items vary by location.
Locations: 2200 Eastridge Lp, San Jose; 551 Southland Mall Dr, Hayward; 185 Sunvalley Mall, Concord
9. Retro Junkie
Retro Junkie is an 8,000 square foot immersive 80s and 90s throwback where “totally geek meets totally chic.” The space boasts awesome décor with 90s grunge and neon pop art, plus a great collection of retro arcade games and pinball machines. To take it up a notch, they bring in live music and DJs, plus trivia nights, movie nights, football Sundays, and more. Drinks include local craft beer and fun signature cocktails, and you can enjoy gourmet eats from rotating food trucks.
Location: 2112 N Main St, Walnut Creek
This gorgeous arcade bar in Downtown San Jose boasts 26 arcade cabinets, plus 10 awesome pinball machines! The 5,000 square foot space is beautifully decorated with art by local San Jose artists, serving as lovely backdrops for Instagram photos. Favorite menu items include poutine, kitchen sink fried rice, scotch egg katsu, and more fusion food with Japanese influences. They also have a super creative cocktail menu with drinks like “Secret of the Ooze” featuring pisco and umeshu with cucumber, pineapple, and lime flavors; and “Dig Dug” with mezcal, cream sherry, hazelnut liqueur, cinnamon, and ginger beer.
Location: 52 E Santa Clara St, San Jose
11. Dave & Busters
Dave & Buster’s is an essential go-to spot for those of us who want a straight-up arcade experience that brings all of the fun. Their 3 Bay Area locations are in Daly City, Concord, and Milpitas, and all of them have a classic game selection, plus food and drink. Happy Hour is generally from 4pm-7pm Monday-Friday and 10pm-12am Sunday-Tuesday. The Milpitas location lists an additional Happy Hour 10pm-1am on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Locations: 130 Serramonte Center, Daly City; 2075 Diamond Blvd Ste. H180, Concord; 940 Great Mall Dr, Milpitas
Bonus: Musée Mécanique
This amazing spot is a favorite in San Francisco. We can’t technically call it an “arcade bar,” but it’s still a must for arcade fans because it houses an enormous 300-piece collection of vintage machines that go back until 1933. You can play games in their original working condition and browse dozens of rare antique artifacts. Food and drink are not allowed inside.
Location: Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Featured image: @sjminiboss via Instagram