Nashville Gaming Bars: Where An Adult Can Be A Kid

These grown-up arcades let you be a kid again, but with a frosty brew.

All things old have a way of eventually becoming new again. In the '80s, teens flocked to arcades to hang out with friends while they fed quarters into pinball machines and stand-up versions of Ms. Pacman and Galaga. Today's versions are way cooler—they serve beer. 

"There's always been a need for bars to have additional activities and entertainment for people to enjoy other than food and drinks," said Brian Galati, co-owner of Headquarters Beercade. "As longtime bar operators, we loved the idea that people from all backgrounds, demographics and age ranges—from buttoned-up businessmen to creative artists to twenty-somethings looking for a fun night out—could co-exist in one space and have a great time." 

Some bars offer board games and traditional lawn games, either in addition to or instead of video games. Here are some of the best spots in Nashville for the over-21 set to leave adulthood behind. 

Headquarters Beercade has rows of arcade games near its polished bar.

Headquarters Beercade

This two-story bar offers 30 arcade games and 10 vintage pinball machines across more than 6,500 square feet.  Pac Man, Centipede, Mortal Combat, pinball machines...they're all here and free to play. If that's not enough nostalgia, one wall is completely stacked with more than 13,000 cassette tapes. Order a cocktail from the bar with whimsical names like Sweep the Leg, Johnny and Cereal Killer, or order up burgers, wraps, or signature appetizers like the chicken and waffle cone from the scratch kitchen.

Pinewood Social

Bowling and beer have long gone together—just ask dad's bowling league. This gathering spot takes it up a notch. You and up to eight friends can have a great time striking and sparing on one of six bowling lanes reclaimed from an old Indiana bowling alley.  When the weather's warm, go outside for bocce ball near the patio. Or grab a cocktail, or some popcorn from the vintage Airstream and soak in the wading pool outside. There you can also catch a dive-in movie.

Gamer playing an NFL video game

Kung Fu Saloon 

More than 18 vintage arcade games like Ms. Pacman and Mortal Kombat line the walls of this restaurant and bar. Famous for its pickle shots, guests can mingle over everything from Skee Ball to Giant Jenga to ping pong. Private karaoke rooms offer more entertainment (and practice) for the next Nashville star. Hungry players can grab Asian-inspired American food like cheeseburger egg rolls, Cap'n Crunch fried pickles, Kimchi cheese tots or the "Dank" burger—two cheese and jalapeno stuffed patties topped with bacon and onion rings. Chase it with a sake bomb.

Two Bits

Space Invaders, NBA Jam, Galaga—they're all here, along with nearly 20 other vintage arcade games. Not feeling the pixels? Grab one of the more than 70 arcade and board games available. Or take the retro even further by grabbing a joystick and playing a retro Nintendo, Sega or PlayStation. Nibble on avocado toast, a sausage and cheese plate or Candy Pig Mac and Cheese—made with brown sugar bacon. Which vintage-themed cocktail will you choose, the One Fish, Two Fish; the Parent Trap or the Tang? 

Hi-Fi Clyde's

Drop quarters into an old jukebox and challenge your friends to foosball while knocking back candy shots with names like Pińa Colada Lifesaver, Grape Skittles and Sugar Daddy—yum! Rows of leather couches are a comfy resting spot to sip a cocktail like Jungle Juice while listening to a live band and playing pinball in the console. 

Girl playing giant Jenga

Lisa Kaylor
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