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16 SF Bars With Great Arcade Games

Pitchers, pinball, and Pac-Man

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In an era of online and iPhone gaming, the concept of playing pinball with a group of friends in public has taken on a retro-chic appeal. Bars like Emporium and Brewcade have blossomed around the concept, but “games in bars is nothing new,” Emporium co-founder Danny Marks told Eater SF.

Before 1980, the only place to play games was at bars and restaurants. Atari’s cofounder even invented Chuck E. Cheese as a place for people to hang out and play on his company’s new toys. It might not be necessary anymore, but the fun of sharing a pitcher of beer and a bunch of tokens for games hasn’t gone away. Here are 16 bars and restaurants with great games to get in on the action.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Wreck Room

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The divey, Polk-adjacent Wreck Room will transport drinkers to a tricked-out frat basemen. If that’s your thing, head in for games including skee-ball, shuffle board, darts, and even a boxing game with a real punching bag.

Golden Gate Tap Room

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A Union Square adult playground and bar with skee-ball, foosball, and screens to watch any other kind of ball, Golden Gate Taproom’s claim to fame is more than 100 beers available at any given time. There’s plenty of pub grub, too, and games like Big Buck Hunter keep patrons coming back for more.

Fifth Arrow

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In addition to bowling, pizza, and cocktails, visitors to Fifth Arrow (the former Slide bar) will find arcade games like skee-ball and pinball to play. It’s a nice distraction as you wait for a show at upstairs August Hall — though you don’t need a ticket to swing by Fifth Arrow for food, drinks, and entertainment.

Emperor Norton's BoozeLand

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Emperor Norton’s, named for a famed San Francisco eccentric, attracts contemporary kooks of all kinds. It’s a Tenderloin watering hole with a worn-in, non-judgmental atmosphere, plus some video games, shuffleboard, and so forth.

Coin-Op Game Room

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San Diego-founded arcade bar business Coin-Op moved into its massive, 10,000 square-foot SoMa space in 2016, bringing a boatload of cheap-to-play old school games with it. Fun snacks (tots, fried chicken, and doughnuts) plus cocktails round out the experience. For a bit more intimacy, head upstairs to the Tron-inspired speakeasy, the Grid, which patrons enter through a door disguised as a vintage Tron arcade game.

Coin-Op Game Room Coin-Op Game Room

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This split-personality bar (or duo of bars) has quality cocktails on one side and standard sports bar fare on the other, plus a mini arcade to keep everyone entertained. Ideal for game nights of all kinds.

Emporium SF - Arcade Bar Venue

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Emporium, a Chicago-based mini-chain of arcade bars, filled a long-vacant, 12,000 square-foot theater on Divisadero with more than 50 arcade games, pinball machines, and tabletop diversions — plus the countless early-20s patrons who play them. It’s already a hugely popular destination for gaming, beer-drinking (there’s a great selection), and general carousing on weekends.

BuzzWorks

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This buzzing sports bar has several pool tables, foosball, and a row of arcade games to keep patrons fully stimulated. On top of drinks (beer and wine only) and food from their own kitchen (nachos, sausages, etc) they’ve got a deal with neighbors at DNA Pizza, which is ideal for feeding a crowd.

The Willows

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Sister bar to Mission Street’s popular, craft beer covered dive the Sycamore, the Willows has a bigger space, a fuller kitchen with more pub grub like burgers, and several pinball machines plus a big pool table. The place attracts a steady after work crowd for any combination of those attributes. What it lacks in pristine cleanliness, it makes up for in character.

Brewcade

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Combining 25 beers, 6 pinball machines, and a dozen or so cabinet games, Brewcade is a gaming paradise in the Castro with a clean, industrial aesthetic. It’s as inviting on an afternoon as it is by evening, and it’s been a hit since it opened in 2014.

Gestalt

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16th Street beer-drinking den Gestalt Haus has an admirable pinball lineup buzzing and whirring away at all hours. Choose something from the lengthy tap list and get those fingers tapping away.

Bear Vs. Bull

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Bear vs. Bull, the bar at the Mission’s Alamo Drafthouse — a beautifully updated old movie palace — nearly stands on its own with a solid cocktail program and list of beers. Swing by for a drink pre or post film, and get some entertainment upstairs while you’re at it: Above the bar, accessible by a back staircase, is a mezzanine of arcade games to play. It’s mostly pinball, with cinematically themed machine options like the Big Lebowski, the Simpsons, Star Wars, and more.

Bear Vs Bull

Urban Putt

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Beyond an intricate, 14-hole indoor mini-golf course (basically a playable art installation) and a wide selection of food, beer, and cocktails, Urban Putt has a small game room to keep patrons entertained. Long line for golf? Play some skee-ball while you wait.

Outer Orbit

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This playful new Mission Street pinball bar with cheerful lighting and decor offers family-friendly fun — plus taps of tropical-leaning beers and low-proof cocktails for the adult crowd that rolls though in the evening. Hawaiian food like spam musubi, guava-smoked pork shoulder, and shaved ice desserts fuels pinball players as they toil away on nine machines, including one rotating historic machine from the Pacific Pinball Museum.

Emmy's Spaghetti Shack

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One of the many charm’s of this family-friendly pasta restaurant, where the menus are handwritten in what appears to be crayon, is a small game area for the kids (and adults) that want a break from family time. The whole place is so delightfully mismatched you might even breeze by arcade games like Dolly Parton pinball and a photo booth.

Barebottle Brewing Company

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Down the hill from the main Bernal strip on Cortland is beer wonderland Barebottle, a family (and canine) friendly industrial brewhouse and indoor beer hall. Get a flight of innovative IPAs and head over to their arcade area for amusements — although the inevitable antics of the countless dogs the place attracts is likely to keep most customers occupied.

The Wreck Room

The divey, Polk-adjacent Wreck Room will transport drinkers to a tricked-out frat basemen. If that’s your thing, head in for games including skee-ball, shuffle board, darts, and even a boxing game with a real punching bag.

Golden Gate Tap Room

A Union Square adult playground and bar with skee-ball, foosball, and screens to watch any other kind of ball, Golden Gate Taproom’s claim to fame is more than 100 beers available at any given time. There’s plenty of pub grub, too, and games like Big Buck Hunter keep patrons coming back for more.

Fifth Arrow

In addition to bowling, pizza, and cocktails, visitors to Fifth Arrow (the former Slide bar) will find arcade games like skee-ball and pinball to play. It’s a nice distraction as you wait for a show at upstairs August Hall — though you don’t need a ticket to swing by Fifth Arrow for food, drinks, and entertainment.

Emperor Norton's BoozeLand

Emperor Norton’s, named for a famed San Francisco eccentric, attracts contemporary kooks of all kinds. It’s a Tenderloin watering hole with a worn-in, non-judgmental atmosphere, plus some video games, shuffleboard, and so forth.

Coin-Op Game Room

Coin-Op Game Room Coin-Op Game Room

San Diego-founded arcade bar business Coin-Op moved into its massive, 10,000 square-foot SoMa space in 2016, bringing a boatload of cheap-to-play old school games with it. Fun snacks (tots, fried chicken, and doughnuts) plus cocktails round out the experience. For a bit more intimacy, head upstairs to the Tron-inspired speakeasy, the Grid, which patrons enter through a door disguised as a vintage Tron arcade game.

Coin-Op Game Room Coin-Op Game Room

Trademark & Copyright

This split-personality bar (or duo of bars) has quality cocktails on one side and standard sports bar fare on the other, plus a mini arcade to keep everyone entertained. Ideal for game nights of all kinds.

Emporium SF - Arcade Bar Venue

Emporium, a Chicago-based mini-chain of arcade bars, filled a long-vacant, 12,000 square-foot theater on Divisadero with more than 50 arcade games, pinball machines, and tabletop diversions — plus the countless early-20s patrons who play them. It’s already a hugely popular destination for gaming, beer-drinking (there’s a great selection), and general carousing on weekends.

BuzzWorks

This buzzing sports bar has several pool tables, foosball, and a row of arcade games to keep patrons fully stimulated. On top of drinks (beer and wine only) and food from their own kitchen (nachos, sausages, etc) they’ve got a deal with neighbors at DNA Pizza, which is ideal for feeding a crowd.

The Willows

Sister bar to Mission Street’s popular, craft beer covered dive the Sycamore, the Willows has a bigger space, a fuller kitchen with more pub grub like burgers, and several pinball machines plus a big pool table. The place attracts a steady after work crowd for any combination of those attributes. What it lacks in pristine cleanliness, it makes up for in character.

Brewcade

Combining 25 beers, 6 pinball machines, and a dozen or so cabinet games, Brewcade is a gaming paradise in the Castro with a clean, industrial aesthetic. It’s as inviting on an afternoon as it is by evening, and it’s been a hit since it opened in 2014.

Gestalt

16th Street beer-drinking den Gestalt Haus has an admirable pinball lineup buzzing and whirring away at all hours. Choose something from the lengthy tap list and get those fingers tapping away.

Bear Vs. Bull

Bear Vs Bull

Bear vs. Bull, the bar at the Mission’s Alamo Drafthouse — a beautifully updated old movie palace — nearly stands on its own with a solid cocktail program and list of beers. Swing by for a drink pre or post film, and get some entertainment upstairs while you’re at it: Above the bar, accessible by a back staircase, is a mezzanine of arcade games to play. It’s mostly pinball, with cinematically themed machine options like the Big Lebowski, the Simpsons, Star Wars, and more.

Bear Vs Bull

Urban Putt

Beyond an intricate, 14-hole indoor mini-golf course (basically a playable art installation) and a wide selection of food, beer, and cocktails, Urban Putt has a small game room to keep patrons entertained. Long line for golf? Play some skee-ball while you wait.