A First-Timer’s Guide to Arcades in Seattle

We’re a pinball capital 🕹️

The interior of Georgetown Arcade's lineup of machines

Arcade games. They’re more than just slot machines for children. These mesmerizing beacons of flashing lights and whirring sounds offer satisfying wins and bragging rights. As a kid, I never really got the chance to play arcade games. But now I am, allegedly, an adult, and I can sink as much change into arcade games as I want. And Seattle is a top-shelf city for arcade game lovers, especially pinball fanatics. We’re practically the barcade capital. 

Before getting into the spots, I want to specify the difference between a bar with arcade games and a barcade. At a bar with arcade games, you may be able to down a few drinks while playing Big Buck Hunter (like the one at Montana). But at a barcade (like Georgetown Pizza and Arcade and the others below), challenge the wrong person to Xenon pinball and you may find yourself sorely losing to a nationally ranked champion. Seattle is a hub for professional pinball players, so if you dig the game enough, maybe you’ve found your calling to join the ranks of local pinball masters!

Now, there are tons of places to play arcade games around here, but here’s a list of places to start.

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Full Tilt Ice Cream (Always All Ages)

9629 16th Ave SW, White Center + 5041 Rainier Ave S, Seattle

Founded in White Center in 2008, Full Tilt is a Seattle gem. While you may see families and groups of kids post-soccer games getting ice cream during the day, the evening has the right environment for a drink with friends or a cute date. Pre-Covid Full Tilt also occasionally hosted live music. (I once saw Lisa Prank at the Rainier location while playing the Gauntlet Legends arcade game.) Keep your ear to the ground for an opportunity to see music at Full Tilt and in the meantime grab a scoop of my favorite (Thai Tea Ice Cream) and fail at beating a high score on The Simpsons pinball machine.

Georgetown Pizza and Arcade (All Ages Until 8 pm)

5513 Airport Way S, Seattle

A new addition to the Seattle arcade scene, Georgetown Pizza and Arcade opened in November 2022. A casual spot for a cold one and a hot slice, this arcade has what you want. This spot is also (to my knowledge) the only of two Seattle arcades with Xenon (the other is Time Warp). Xenon is a pinball game famous for being the first arcade game with a woman’s voice. All sounds in Xenon are voiced and synthesized by electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani. This is, to me, reason enough to make a trip to Georgetown Pizza and Arcade.

Time Warp (21+)

1420 10th Ave, Seattle

📸: Courtesy Time Warp

A view of the Time Warp lobby from above

Time Warp is one of Capitol Hill’s newest bars. It has cocktails, cups of noodles, and piping hot arcade games. This arcade is clearly a product of love and attention to detail. The noodle bar has an after-school snack vibe with side choices that include soy curls, peanut butter, furikake, and Kewpie mayo. At $8 for a Cup Noodles and two sides, the price isn’t much more than an after-school snack either. The bar’s interior is a sci-fi dream transporting you to the worlds of Blade Runner or Akira. Time Warp has lovingly restored and meticulously cared for games, including a Johnny Mnemonic game I can’t wait to try and add to the list of Keanu Reeves-related things I love.

Add-A-Ball (21+)

315 N 36th St #2b, Seattle

As we move north in our arcade tour, it would be egregious not to mention Fremont staple Add-a-Ball. For some reason, Add-a-Ball loomed large in my mind as a place I wanted to go when I was too young to get into bars. And little Miranda was right to yearn for Add-a-Ball. Though, on a busy night, you might get less playing time on the machines than you want, Add-a-Ball is all about variety. The crew over there claims to have “the largest collection of vintage coin-operated arcade machines in the city.” You can tell a popular game at Add-a-Ball by how worn away the floor finish is where you stand to play, but with such a fun selection you can’t really go wrong! If the game you have to play is full, wander around all the corners of the bar to kill some time and absorb the parent’s-musty-basement vibe of the whole place.

Coindexter’s (21+)

8556 Greenwood Ave N

📸: Courtesy Coindexter’s

Three people stand side by side playing the Japanese arcade game, Bishi Bashi

One of my personal white whales is Skee-Ball and baby, Coindexter’s has got it! This Greenwood arcade has a full bar and kitchen ready to fuel your night of gaming. The drink menu comes inside a classic VHS case, in case you need an extra dose of nostalgia. And though the wings look delicious, I recommend eating them before or after gaming, unless you really need that sauce to lube up your game. Coindexter’s selection of games includes classic pinball games and Korean and Japanese arcade games like the popular Bishi Bashi.

6 More Arcades to Check Out

21+:
🕹️ Shorty’s Coney Island (Belltown)
🕹️ Jupiter Bar (Belltown)
🕹️ Unicorn (Capitol Hill)

All Ages:
🕹️ GameWorks (Downtown)
🕹️ Pinball Museum (Chinatown-International District)
🕹️ The Ice Box Arcade (Frelard) — All Ages Until 8 pm

Author

Miranda Hardy

Miranda is a Seattle-based writer, musician, and gal about town. You can find her at the library, your local bar’s karaoke night, and staring longingly at the Ballard Locks. Don’t ask her about AI, pop music, or why she loves Seattle because you’ll never get your ear back.

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