Sometimes the idea of grabbing a couple beers while trying to scarf up pellets and avoid multi-colored ghosts sounds like a fun way to spend an hour or two. Ms. Pac-Man is just one of several arcade games found inside Houston watering holes. Different bars take different approaches regarding what type of games to offer. Some stick to classics, while others go for the newer and livelier games. These five bars offer an enjoyable night out thanks to fun games, a pleasant atmosphere, great service and, of course, excellent drinks.
Eighteen Twenty Bar
1820 Franklin St.
Houston, TX 77002
While some bars have arcade games along a wall, Eighteen Twenty Bar is the only drinking establishment in Houston to share a wall with an arcade game dealership. The downtown bar shares a building with Joystick Classic Games and Pinballs, and for two Fridays each month, customers enjoy the best of both businesses. On the first and final Friday, Eighteen Twenty patrons can pay $15 to play all the video games they want. The showroom has more than 300 games including many old school games that are difficult to find these days. Some of the new inventory over the summer included a 1993 NBA Jam machine, a 2012 Deadstorm Pirates shooting game and pinball games feature ACDC, Jurassic Park, X Men and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Good beer and friendly service round out a fun evening.
1641 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
Houston residents looking for a new neighborhood dive bar can grab a drink and shoot some pinball at Poison Girl. With affordable drink prices, attentive bartenders and good live music, this Montrose establishment has attracted many regulars over the years, including a lively artsy crowd. The giant Kool-Aid man only adds to the ambiance. The collection of pinball machines in the back is also a crowd favorite. There’s several to choose from. The setting provides a chance to meet other pinball enthusiasts or challenge your friends to see who is the pinball master.
Little Woodrow’s on Shepherd
720 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007
The newest Little Woodrow’s bar has some bonus enhancements not found at the other five locations in Houston. There’s a free parking lot and a kitchen. There’s also a full wall of classic arcade games. That combination has made Little Woodrow’s on Shepherd an instant hit since its May opening. Games include Ms. Pac-Man, Golden Tee, a Harley-Davidson pinball machine and a beer pong video game. There’s 50 beers on tap, drink specials five days a week and plenty of sports to watch on the televisions.
Kung Fu Saloon
5317 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007
Sure there’s been admittance controversies and weekend evenings bring large crowds, but it would be difficult to not mention Kung Fu Saloon in a list of local drinking establishments with awesome video games. That’s because the owners have decided to go vintage, the type of games today’s customers played when they were growing up. Some examples are Mortal Kombat, Galaga, Double Dragon and Track & Field. There’s also three skee-ball machines, which customers can play for free. In fact, all video games are free on Sundays. After work midweek also is a good time to go. The atmosphere is laid back and there are drink specials and appetizers starting at $3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Times Square Entertainment
402 W. Grand Parkway, Suite 110
Katy, TX 77494
The name implies New York, but Times Square Entertainment has become a go-to Texas-sized attraction for groups and families in the west Houston suburbs. Bowling may be the top draw, but the arcade and sports bar also are popular. There are 60 arcade games to choose from, including several classics and claw machines. There are also a number of ticket-based games where players can build up points on their rewards cards and then redeem the points for prizes. When it’s time for a game break, grab a drink from the full bar, order a burger or build your own calzone and check out sports on the six 50-inch televisions in the sports grill.
Jeremy Shapiro is a freelance writer in the Houston area. While his trombone rendition of “Black in Back” isn’t terrible, his 10 years in journalism have left him better equipped to write about music, nightlife and other entertainment outings. His work can be found on Examiner.com.