Nostalgia collides with tasty treats
Well, it’s finally happened–we’ve reached the point in the technological revolution where we have started going backwards. For a society that has nearly any information or gaming opportunity in their pocket in the form of a cell phone, many now long for the days of old school entertainment, the kind that was very, very stationary. Hence the rise of the arcade bar, of which Draftcade, located in Zona Rosa Shopping Center, is one of the newest.
The idea of an arcade bar isn’t new by any means, as many have popped up in the nation and even in the city. There are now two North of the river with this summer’s Tapcade NKC opening. Draftcade, is a sister company of its next door neighbor, the Improv Comedy Club. While it seems like a simple concept–get a bunch of vintage arcade games and set up bar, Draftcade does the concept justice and has a surprisingly tasty menu to boot.
While the room is dominated by the more than 70 arcade games including vintage favorites like PacMan, pinball and skeeball, there is plenty of table seating and bar space facing the 60 rotating taps. Beer and video games go together when your target audience is the aptly named “Oregon Trail Generation”. For those hop-averse gamers, there’s a full list of cocktails with video game centric names as well, although all lean heavily to the sweeter side of the spectrum.
All this is fun (and, well, games) but Draftcade also offers a surprisingly good menu. The menu skews toward the junk food theme but does so in a creative and well-executed way. On a sleepy Sunday afternoon, I ventured in to sample the wares. Kids are allowed on the weekends before 5 p.m with an adult. After that, Draftcade is 21 years old and up.
We started with some appetizers. The menu has several options since the concept lends itself to snacking. Our choices, the Fried Mac and Cheese and the BLT Tots were both crowd pleasers. The mac and cheese included jalapenos in the mix so there was a pleasant bite but not too much for most palates. The standout, though, was the BLT tots, which was essentially a fried potato salad. The mound of tots was crispy and piping hot with a veritable mountain of crisp shredded lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and hearty lardons of bacon. It was indulgent and fun at the same time.
To counteract my sins, I opted for a salad as a main course. The grilled caesar salad was executed perfectly–lightly charred romaine hearts added smoky flavor to the classic fare. Topped with Caesar IPA dressing and perfectly cooked blackened shrimp, it was satisfying and (nearly) guilt free.
My dining companion threw guilt to the wind and dove into the Porky’s Revenge. The sandwich was laughably large with pulled pork, candied bacon, and smoked ham piled high. It was dressed with blueberry habanero BBQ sauce, jalapeno cole slaw, and onion straws. With a side of fries, it was easily two meals. Although the BBQ sauce was a tad too sweet for my taste, the overall result was balanced with a little sweet and a little spice in each bite.
For those with more gustatorial endurance, there are deep fried Twinkies and Oreos on offer, but sadly, we had to tap out. There’s plenty more to try with smoked vegetables of the day, a maple pork glazed pork donut, and a Stone Smoked Porter Chicken sandwich for another visit.
Draftcade isn’t reinventing the wheel but they are making sure that the wheel rolls well and has a good time. And the allowance of children during specific hours sets it apart from many of its competitors. After all, don’t the parents that want to go to an arcade bar want to show their offspring what life was like in the ‘good old days’ of quarters and quickly erased high scores? Of course they do, because nostalgia, like BLT tots, is best when shared.