If you’re a fan of old-school video games, you’ll love the newest hot bar idea in the Triangle: Bar arcades! Combine Space Invaders, Donkey Kong along with some great local beer and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going down. While the Baxter out in Chapel Hill has been open for a while now, two new bar arcades have recently popped up in Raleigh: Boxcar Bar and Arcade along with Level Up! Each spot has its own unique charms and some slight nuanced differences that you may enjoy…
First up is Boxcar Bar and Arcade in the Warehouse District. Boxcar opened up in late 2014 and what a great idea! There’s not much signage in front, just look for the brick building next to the Pit and across from Jose and Sons. Boxcar has a nice open layout with exposed wood beams, apropos for this neighborhood.
Some pinball tables up front along with shuffleboard, pop up the steps to the bar where they have a nice list of craft beers at reasonable prices. Grab some tokens at the machine, you can also get free tokens through a couple of check-in specials they have online.
With an assortment of probably 50 or so machines ranging from Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and more, you can while away a couple of hours here. Or hit up skee-ball in back with their second bar and air hockey tables. A small communal tables allows you to chow down on your eats, Boxcar allows for outside food (since they don’t serve any) and is dog-friendly. Overall I’m pretty happy with how this place has evolved based upon customer feedback. Nice job, Boxcar!
Next up is Level Up Kitchen, Bar and Arcade! Run by the owner from the Architect Bar and Lounge, Level Up has a totally different feel. Up a narrow stairway to a dimly lit bar, you’ll find a smaller assortment of cabinets and video games. Level Up has a stronger emphasis on its bar and food, they’ve got a short assortment of apps and eats here. I have yet to eat here so more to come there.
Level up is still in the process of building out it’s first floor so expect more and better for games. There is a special emphasis on the pinball tables here, they are looking to get in some of the most popular so watch out. Outside of pinball you’ve got favorites like Joust, Area 51 and more. Machines only take quarters and they’ve got a small changer in the middle.
You know as an 80’s baby it’s always fun to hit up a bar arcade and reminisce a bit. There’s something about gaming in a more social environment that makes it more fun. And I think it’s just better than sitting on a couch for 2 or 3 hours. With the busy and mixed crowds I’ve seen at Boxcar and Level Up, I think Raleigh pretty much agrees with me!
330 W Davie Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
4 out of 5 stars
126 S Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
3.5 out of 5 stars