• September 11, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Retro Arcade Bars in Austin: A Local’s Top Picks

Retro is the new chic. If you’ve been dreaming of slaying space invaders while sipping your favorite craft brews exactly like you did back in the hallowed halls of the local 80s arcade, then you are in the right place. Today, I am ferrying you to Austin, Texas, an amazing town bursting with retro fun, nostalgia, and arcade innovation. As the heart and soul of Texas, Austin offers a unique blend of vintage arcades with a New-gen vibe, making it a must-visit destination for arcade enthusiasts.

Let me take you on a journey to the quirkiest, most engaging retro arcade bars in Austin. Places where time stands still, and the glow of neon lights illuminate spectacular murals. Where the clatter of pinballs ricocheting off shiny obstacles creates a symphony. Where the blast of a spaceship and the munching of ghosts fill the air.

1. Pinballz Arcade: The Haven of Happiness for Pinball Wizards

Step into the immersive world of Pinballz Arcade where nostalgia adds flavor to every sip of your drink. With a plethora of machines that offer a journey from the golden age to the cutting edge of pinball, Pinballz is a neon-lit, retro-gaming paradise.

  • Over 100 pinball machines offering a brilliant blend of both vintage classics and modern marvels
  • A broad range of arcade games, including shooter games, air hockey, Skee-Ball, as well as driving games
  • A unique, adrenaline-pumping laser tag arena
  • A BYOB policy that allows you to bring your favorite beverages on-site

Pinballz is the kind of place that transports you to another time, another world where you are a kid again, trying to crush that elusive high score on your favorite pinball machine. Lose yourself in the rhythmic symphony of sounds created by the constant pinging of the balls, all while you enjoy your favorite drink.

2. Kung Fu Saloon: The Alluring Blend of Bruce Lee and Donkey Kong

Kung Fu Saloon masterfully merges the world of retro gaming with an Asian-inspired ambiance, creating a unique vibe that sets it apart from other arcade bars. Imagine defeating Goro in Mortal Kombat while sipping Tsingtao Beer in an interior that seems straight out of a Hong Kong movie set.

  • Over 18 classic and rare arcade games, including fan favorites like Ms. Pac-Man, NBA Jam, Donkey Kong, and Tekken
  • Private karaoke rooms that spark spontaneous sing-offs among your friends and fellow patrons
  • An Asian-inspired menu featuring delectable delights, including sushi rolls, wonton nachos, and the iconic Kung Fu fries
  • An impressive drink selection with a dedicated sake menu, along with local and imported beers

Kung Fu Saloon is like a grand martial arts tournament that not only tests your mettle against the arcade masters but also comes enclosed with the oriental magic of delicious food and drinks.

3. Cidercade Austin: Harmony of Craft Ciders and Arcade Games

At Cidercade Austin, every sip of the fresh craft cider provides the perfect accompaniment to every game you play. Here, you can enjoy an array of in-house cider options, while immersing yourself in the world of vintage arcade games.

  • A bustling in-house cider brewery boasting an impressive list of unique ciders that change regularly
  • Over 275 arcade games that promise an intoxicating blend of nostalgia and innovative gameplay
  • Situated in a felicitous location right on the beloved Colorado Riverfront

The beauty of Cidercade lies in its commitment to offering a perfect cider for each patron’s palate. As you savor each sip, the body of the Pear Guava cider or the bitterness of the Triple Dry Hopped cascades beautifully with the thrill of gaming. Cidercade Austin is more than a gaming den; it’s a love story between cider enthusiasts and arcade fanatics.

4. The Highball: Retro Gaming Paired with Distinctive Dance Floors

If you’re looking for a retro arcade bar that doesn’t just offer games but an eclectic blend of experiences, The Highball is your spot. This chic, dynamic arcade bar in downtown Austin seamlessly blends the joy of retro gaming with the vibrancy of karaoke, dancing, and live music.

  • Seven dramatically-themed karaoke rooms that evoke distinctive atmospheres from an ethereal forest to a zany circus
  • Aptly situated gaming area featuring a selection of your favorite retro arcade games
  • A well-curated menu boasting an impressive selection of cocktails, local beers, and wines
  • The dance floor pulsates with regular DJ nights and live music gigs

Highball transforms retro gaming into an evening of diverse options. Leave your Pac-Man game midway and break into a jig or sing your heart out in a whimsical karaoke room: the options are limitless.

5. The Grand: An Engaging Mix of a Pool Hall and Retro Arcade

The uniqueness of The Grand lies in the beautiful way it meshes the traditional allure of a pool hall with the irresistible charm of a retro arcade. Here, you could be enjoying a friendly game of 9-ball and suddenly get transported back in time by the sounds of a hustling Galaga ship or the iconic Pac-Man intro music echoing in the background.

  • Pool tables for billiard enthusiasts who seek a classic gaming experience
  • A range of retro arcade games that tickle your nostalgia and fuel your competitive spirit
  • A pet-friendly outdoor patio, making it a perfect place to hang out with your furry buddies
  • A well-stocked bar with an array of preferred drinks and local beers

The Grand magically brings together seemingly disparate crowd-pleasing features under one roof, striking a unique balance that works wonders.

Armed with this local’s guide to the best retro arcade bars in Austin, relive your fondest arcade memories or experience the old-world-charm that left an indubitable mark on gaming history. Take a plunge into the myriad world of Austin’s arcade bars that meticulously blend the nostalgic charm of pixelated narratives and joystick maneuvers, with contemporary elements of theming, culinary delights, and spirits. It’s time to rediscover the joys of friendly competition, simple controls, and an ever-present quest for that high score.

Pack your quarters, gather your friends, tighten your laces for some spontaneous dancing, or warm up your vocal cords for karaoke – the magic of Austin’s retro arcade scene awaits. Rediscover Austin’s unique ability to marry the past with the present, and spend a night immersed in the gentle hum and white noise of arcade culture. Game on, Austin!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Austin’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!