New York Opening: Two Bit’s Retro Arcade

Why shout incoherently at a home video game console when you could do it at a bar in front of other people? “Yeah, son,” “Fuck-fuck-fuck,” and “Yes, yes, fuckin’ no,” were some of the lines overheard recently at Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade, a viscerally satisfying bar with an ambiguously punctuated name on the Lower East Side.

The arcade hall isn’t all that long, but they didn’t waste space with superfluous games. They have all the classics: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Kung-Fu Heroes. Some guy was clearly an expert at Arkanoid, the brick-breaker game (“I have this on my phone, so…”). The five pinball machines in the back include an Avengers set and one for the show 24. Hydro Thunder and Cruis’n World make up the driving games, which are especially interesting after a couple drinks. Actually, most of this stuff is really interesting after a couple drinks.

The owner, Perry Douston, is a big oenophile, and they’ve got about a dozen wines available (a guy yelling “get that turtle” at a Frogger game had a glass of Riesling). The beer taps feature a handful of craft selections, but bottles and cans fit the vibe a little better—the linoleum floor seems designed for cheap beer spills. Alongside 40s of Colt 45 are tall cans of DAB, which the bartender described as the German version of Pabst. The wine geek owner then opened a can of Coors Light—nobody judges.

Over the course of two hours, at least one group of teenagers and two families got thrown out for thinking it was an open arcade. It’s not. You have to be over 21 to get in, and there’s no age maximum, though I didn’t spot anyone beyond their mid-30s. There were two women; one was the bartender.

Barcade’s planned expansion into Chelsea is set to come with refined pub food. Two-Bit’s is more on a hot dogs and candy level. Why get fussy? With over twenty games, it’s tempting to bounce around, but if you hope to get very far with anything, it’s best to pick your match early on. After a DAB and a half, I’d settled on Police Trainer, rising through the ranks of Patrolman and Sargent all the way to Detective. I know this is a sensitive subject, but it turns out I’m pretty good at shooting at the numbers one through sixteen, in order (Sargent Level). Fuck yeah, son.

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