Come for the games, stay for the beer at Barcadium

Come for the games, stay for the beer at Barcadium

Raid the jar of laundry quarters and rejoice, for a bar and arcade opened in downtown Des Moines. Barcadium recently set up shop in the former Lucky Monkey location next to Hessen Haus. It joins the East Village’s Up-Down in a niche quest to bring joystick-and-button style gaming back to the masses, following a popular national trend. Judging from the crowds at Up-Down on the weekends, the market for vintage gaming and drinks is substantial.

Barcadium’s space is full of old-school arcade games that take players back to a time when a few moving, blinking lights a la Asteroids was the height of technology. On a Sunday afternoon, about 10 people were playing games or lounging at the bar, which offers a wide range of beers in cans, bottles and on draft, including local craft beers from brewers like Peace Tree, Exile and Confluence. A draft New Belgium Ranger IPA came to $4.50.

But the main attraction at Barcadium is the games. All the big names are there: Frogger, Centipede, Pac-Man. Games accept quarters or tokens, which can be plunked into machines ranging from Sega Super GT racing to a mechanical arm-wrestling device. For pinball wizards, Sopranos and Family Guy-themed machines light up and ding satisfactorily.

On the walls, a few TVs and many old movie posters share space with odd family photos from the ’80s. An old-school punk-rock soundtrack featuring the likes of Operation Ivy, Dead Kennedys and NOFX played through the speakers, adding to the feeling of hanging out at the old mall arcade.

I enjoyed a first-person shooter style game called Area 51, featuring a plastic gun to shoot alien-zombies. There are handy ledges for your drinks attached to most games, so you don’t have to juggle a beer and your joystick. Most games cost 50 cents or less.

Barcadium’s high ceilings give it a spacious feel, and couches throughout the space provide spots to chill and chat with friends. And a pink Barbie photo box lets you pretend to be the latest incarnation of the doll — was there ever an Arcade Barbie?

In addition to beer and a full bar, Barcadium has food too. You can choose from a range of Banquet frozen dinners, such as Salisbury steak and Swedish meatballs. Meals are $5 and include a can of PBR or Hamm’s. The other food option is an Italian beef sandwich, served from a window at the back of the bar. When I visited, I was disappointed to learn they don’t typically start serving Italian beef until around 5 p.m. But the bartender said once they start, the sandwiches are available all night.

A variety tables tucked into corners give Barcadium a laid-back vibe, similar to a friend’s basement. But the bar offers serious drinking, making it a good place to relax and enjoy the music, even if you’re not an arcade aficionado. But if an arcade is what you want, Barcadium delivers.

Barcadium

Find it: 102 Third St.

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Info: 515-243-9338


About the Author

Laura is contributor to Juice Magazine.



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