“Nerds treat arcade games here like real men treat porn. -JB”

This trip would be something different, an affirmation that video games and alcohol could be combined into something gracious and benevolent, not grotesque and monstrous, or so I had hoped. JB had alerted Clutch and I of the good news, the gem in the rough. “One word, Barcade,” said JB. “That sounds like the name of a really bad wrestling pay-per-view,” I replied. JB stared. “It’s a bar with a, now wait for it, arcade,” said JB with enthusiasm. It was hard to believe but there was no time to waste.

We savagely pregamed following the rules this time, (Rule 4, pregame before exploring the unknown or unruly.) then hopped the train to Philly and hailed a cab. “To 1114 Frankford Avenue,” I said in a commanding voice, this was adventure. “Eh so uh, you guys heading to Barcade?” replied the driver. This place must be legendary, the driver actually knew the name just by hearing the address, not to mention he spoke English well. After a prompt arrival and the drivers brief review, “yeah, it’s pretty good”, we entered a small fenced off area lit by a string of light bulbs. The post apocalyptic look was in style this year.

I stepped through the door. My eyes adjusted to the lighting and the wave of heat that hit us. BLEEP, BLOOP, BLOOP, KA-BLEEP, sounds of video games whistled in the air. Horrendous grunts about high-scores quickly drown out the video games. In front of me was a giant chalk board with the current beers on tap. I’ve barely heard of any of them, this truly was beautiful and amazing. All beers were about $6 to $8. Well worth it for the diverse beer selection.

We were drinking inside the remnants of a boathouse loaded with strange brews and left over video games from the early 80’s and 90’s. Double Dragon, Outrun, Pac-man, Rampage, and WWF Wrestlefest, games that weren’t too complicated to play while drinking. A delicate balance arose, joystick in one hand, beer in the other. How the hell would I push the buttons? Then I saw a tribute to modern convenience. A small table was stashed between every game to rest your drink, brilliant.

JB rubbed his hands together. “It’s time for some old school Sega Out Run!” he said. He mashed the medal to the floor passing every car in sight eventually crashing the car several times before quitting. “This….this is why I have speeding tickets,” JB said slightly discouraged. As we checked out a few more games I felt hungry stares as the legions of hipsters gathering behind us. Some tried to catch a peek around us like we were hoarding a naked woman. JB turned to me, “Seriously, nerds treat video games here like real men treat porn.” One shot us a confused stare wondering if we were done playing. Several began salivating at the screens, quarters ready in hand. “Back away slowly and don’t make eye contact,” I replied to JB.

I examined the room closely and realized a disaster had occurred. A thrift store had vomited clothing everywhere. Older couples littered the bar with confused smiles trying to figure out why the homeless were playing arcade games. Moderately attractive round people were covered in flannel and wool hats but not because it was cold. The heat from the video games was almost unbearable. Several hipster couples spontaneously combusted dropping mixed tapes, bow ties, and black rimmed glasses.

After our exploration of Barcade we decided to make a hasty retreat. Lucky for us a cab was waiting outside. We jumped in and told him to gun it to Mcfadden’s, we had a birthday to catch. The driver at first seemed cool, quiet, and apathetic. To JB and Clutch, this was a sign he needed help. “Where are all the ladies tonight man? Barcade was all couples,” said JB. “Yeah we need some ass!,” yelled Clutch jokingly. The driver started laughing. “Ya kno you need to GRAB the women and steal them, it’s the only way,” retorted the driver. We pulled off, bright lights in the distance signaled that it was Delilah’s Strip Club. “We should go there driver!” said Clutch. Without hesitation JB added, “YOU IN? LETS HIT THE CLUB MAN.” “I know da strippers we could get in free, I give them rides, we be treated really right if we go!” said the driver. We continued past the club when out the window another bar with a long line appeared. “WOAH, what’s that bar!” yelled JB in excitement. Our driver being a professional gave a simple answer. “You see that line? It all men, no lady parts, you don’t want there, very homo, we get you ladies at Mcfadden’s,” said the driver courteously. “But first we roll down window, you tell them all KISS MY ASS WE GOING TO SEE LADIES!” he then added. We arrived at Mcfadden’s safely. Turns out the driver was from Nigeria, I asked him if he was a prince. He stared at me confused as we excited the cab and thanked him for the tour.


The bottom line:

Hours:  4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Crowd:  Hipster
Music: Background
Price range:  $$
Accepts Credit Cards:  Yes
ATM: Yes
Dance floor:  No
Outdoor area: Yes
Coat check: No

The beer selection is fantastic. If you’re in the mood for an easy going bar then this is an excellent choice. It’s a short cab ride from 8th and market. They offer a smoking patio which closes at 1 A.M. with picnic benches to sit at. Change machines actually give quarters so even if you don’t spend all your money you aren’t stuck with tokens. All around this place has a positive vibe with good energy.

1114 Frankford Avenue  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19125
(215) 634-4400