CP photo: Ollie Gratzinger
Pinball machines at Ace’s Breakaway and Play in Downtown
Pittsburgh is a great city for sports fans, beer enthusiasts
, and music lovers, but for those looking to mix things up a bit and try something new — or rather, something old — a pinball cafe or vintage arcade might be just the place. And fortunately, the city and its outer suburbs offer a pretty wide variety in that department.
Gaming became a staple of pop culture long before the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari hit shelves in 1972, marking the beginning of the video-centric entertainment era. But before there was Pong and Invasion, there was pinball and Pac-Man. To take a trip back in time — no Tardis or DeLorean needed — drop by one of these vintage venues, have a milkshake or a slice of pizza and kickback like they used to in the good ol’ days.
1113 E. Carson St., South Side. Open Wed.-Thu. 3-10 p.m., Fri. 3 p.m.-12 a.m., Sat. 12 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun. 12-10 p.m.
One of the few establishments along East Carson Street that doesn’t serve alcohol, patrons at South Side’s Victory Pointe Arcade and Gaming Cafe can enjoy a milkshake or a cup of coffee instead (though you can BYOB
). The first floor is home to a slew of retro machines, from pinball to shooting and racing games, and the second floor houses consoles, tabletop role-playing games, and a virtual reality experience. The Classic Doctor Who pinball machine on the first floor is certainly Victory Pointe’s pièce de résistance, and it pairs perfectly with a chocolate shake or root beer float.
Games ‘N At
2010 Josephine St., South Side. Open Thu. 4 p.m.-12 a.m., Fri. 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Sat. 12 p.m.-1 a.m., Sun. 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
• Check out its website
for pricing and packages.
For all your retro gaming needs — and to play the newest hits on some of the newest consoles — Games N’ At is your one-stop-shop for all things arcade. You can BYOB, or enjoy some pizza and fountain drinks in the cafe. With deals for college kids on Fridays and special pricing for families and groups, there’s something for everyone at this vintage locale.
Kickback Pinball Cafe
4326 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Open Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
• You can find details about pricing, cafe menu items, and more at its website
Home to Pittsburgh’s best pinball room, Kickback Cafe is a must-visit if you find yourself in Lawrenceville with time to kill. You can grab an espresso, cold brew, milkshake, or melt sandwich — or, once again, BYOB — and try your shot at one of more than 20 available pinball machines, with themes including Jurassic Park, Iron Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and more.
231 Perry Highway, West View. Museum hours Mon.-Fri. 12-5 p.m., Fri. 7-10 p.m., Sat. 12-5 p.m.
• For details, pricing, for-sale machines and an up-to-date list of exhibits on display, check out its website
Pinball Perfection isn’t off the main drag; in fact, it’s right on it. Situated on the side of Perry Highway, this three-story museum/game room is a little different from the rest. It calls itself a “hands-on museum,” with some exhibits you can play — it’s currently showing Star Wars, Star Trek and Laurel and Hardy themed machines — and others made for learning; the middle floor is all about the history of pinball, from the 1930s to the 1950s. If you’re looking to start your own pinball collection, you might be able to find your first piece at Pinball Perfection, as some machines here are for sale.
2284 Brodhead Road, Aliquippa. Open Tues.-Fri. 2-10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
• Info on its pricing, as well as a photo tour of some of its machines and museum exhibits, can be found on its website
Dubbed Pittsburgh’s best vintage arcade, Pinball PA is another locale that’s part-museum and part-gaming center. Its museum features a number of vintage pinball machines and video games, all set up as “interactive exhibits,” so that visitors can experience the history firsthand. The museum also includes information on the history of gaming and how different gaming media shaped the popular culture of its day.
In the game room, visitors can try out hundreds of vintage video games, including hits like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, as well as hundreds of themed pinball machines, which feature a slew of characters from The Sopranos
CP photo: Ollie Gratzinger
Ace’s Breakaway and Play
Ace’s Breakaway and Play
417 Smithfield St., Downtown. Open Mon.-Thur. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
A hidden wonder along Smithfield Street, Ace’s Breakaway and Play might just be one of Downtown’s best-kept secrets. Unlike most other arcades around the city, this locale is pay-as-you-play; rather than paying a flat rate for an hour or a day, patrons pay per machine, which makes it perfect for a quick visit to wait out the rain or kill some time on your lunch break. Though there is an ATM inside, it’s best to come prepared with quarters or small bills ($1 or $5) that the old-school change machine can convert.
Play some skeeball and earn tickets redeemable for small prizes, or just come by to try your luck on a retro Pac-Man machine. No matter how you play, Ace’s is a must-see for fans of all things retro.