If you’re tired of your usual weekend routine and are looking for something new to shake up your winter, Toronto’s got the answer — arcade bars. Also known as a “barcade,” these trendy bars are bringing arcade games from the ’80s back in style. Whether you’re someone who likes to keep yourself occupied while you’re out for drinks with friends, or you want a low-commitment date spot that doesn’t entail sitting and talking all night, arcade bars are kind of perfect. Grab a drink, pick your game of choice — from pinball to Skee-Ball — and have some old fashioned fun!
Here are 8 of the best arcade bars to visit in Toronto.
A tiny arcade bar on the Danforth that offers free play for $5 ($10 on weekend evenings), Zed*80 is the sister bar of Tilt, the largest vintage arcade bar in Toronto. Tilt has been temporarily closed down since a fire in the apartment above them destroyed their Dundas West location, but Zed*80 is still up and running. It may be on the smaller side, but the bar offers over 35 different arcade games, including a few Nintendo console games. The bar also offers some pretty great food from Thursdays to Sundays (and allows you to bring outside food on days the kitchen is closed, in case you need to refuel after a serious game of Skee-Ball).
This cozy Dundas West bar has just the right ambience for a fun date night, and thanks to their recent addition of a late night pizza bar, you can spend the whole night here and let yourself get lost in the arcade game fun. The bar offers a great craft beer menu and a curated selection of vintage games, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. and The Simpsons themed games (and of course, a few classic pinball machines).
The name says it all — with a $5 entry fee, you get access to a full night of free play featuring two floors of arcade and console games DJ events, slushies, a candy bar and more. If paying cover isn’t your thing, visit on Mondays — everyone gets free entry and there’s even drink specials for service industry employees! The bar also offers $5 draft (choose from over 80 beers) on Thursdays and Saturdays, $5 gin on Thursdays and $5 fireball for Fireball Fridays.
The Rec Room
The Rec Room’s Toronto location pretty much has it all — arcade games, sure, but also video games, pool, shuffleboard and ping pong. The only catch is that you have to pay by credits, so no unlimited play here — grab 40 credits for $10, 120 for $20 and all the way up to 365 for $50 if you plan on playing all night long. Different games will cost you more; 30 minutes at the ping pong table will cost you 25 credits, whereas 30 minutes of pool will be just 20. The space also hosts everything from drag brunches to comedy shows, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy if you don’t want to shell out on the games.
Dundas Video may not have arcade games, but they’re all about retro gaming — the video game kind. This bar has all the vintage games of your childhood available for you to play (and on VHS no less!), and aside from the games, the bar often hosts DJs, movie nights and other cool events, so prepare to be entertained!
Tiny but mighty, Cabin Fever on Bloor West is home to 10 different pinball machines and three different arcade games, just enough to keep you entertained as you choose from the bar’s curated craft beer menu. Cabin Fever is also home to a pinball league and hosts tournaments for arcade game fans, so this is the place to be if you’re hoping to get a bit more competitive once you brush up on your skills.
The Greater Good
Geary Ave.’s The Greater Good is big on craft beer (they offer a rotating menu of 18 beers, with an emphasis on ones brewed here in Ontario), and they’ve also partnered with North of Brooklyn to offer pizza by the slice or by the pie. Their second floor is the hub for arcade games and all kinds of fun, offering games including Tetris and Skee-Ball — feel free to bring the kids with you, just know that it becomes 19+ after 9 p.m.
Another Bloor West gem, The John offers over 40 craft beer options paired with what many have described as an “interesting” food menu — in the best way! Expect classic pub fare with a twist, along with your pick of some pretty fun arcade games that you can play into the night (or at least until they close at 2 a.m.).