For myself and my friends, there was a time where every Thursday was "Guys Night." We would gather in Jersey and, from there, the town was laid out before us like an ocean leading to the star-strewn horizon. If we wanted to get our crunk on, we would head to South Street's Fluid Nightclub. If we wanted a touch of hipster, it was Northern Liberties' 700 Club for a little old-school rap party. If the college crowd was desired, it was straight to the now-defunct Who's on Third! A little pool, some elbow-to-elbow, and a jukebox with an intriguing roster of artists? Olde City's Sugar Mom's, so nice to see you!
These days, things have changed.
The frequency of the Thursday hang has dwindled to a once-monthly get-together. The destination is usually...the couch to watch some sort of movie or whatever. If we head out, it is usually to the closest bar available. Don't get me wrong: It is still a thrilling time (and there are obviously ridiculously tasty beers at the ready). One of the highlights of the month for sure. All I'm saying is the days of hitting the streets of Philadelphia in search of a wicked time have come to an end. Gone the way of the dodo. Taken a one-way trip to Splitsville.
Or so I thought.
For last Thursday, myself, my brother, and our treasured friend who will go nameless found the one place that could provoke all of us to get off our arses and hit the City of Brotherly Love: Barcade (!!!!!).
I must admit, when I heard this place was expanding into Philadelphia from its flagship location in Brooklyn (they have another location in Jersey City), I was intrigued, but I didn't know quite how excited I was to go there until I arrived at my brother's house on Thursday night. He was checking out their web site. Well, let's just say it has three very cool elements: beer, video games, and video games that you can play while drinking beer (oh, and hipster watching; that's always cool as f*ck as well).
First of all, let me wax poetic on their beer list which was way more impress than I could have possibly imagined (and by the way, I have to do this from memory because as I write this four days after my dalliance, they have went through a COMPLETE ROTATION of their taps): They had two varietals from Lagunitas, which I believe to be the hands down greatest brewery making beer right now. They had both their Pils and Little Sumpin Wild, an aggressive IPA with ample hop flavor. Smuttynose Pumpkin, my pick for best pumpkin-flavored beer, was in full attendance. Yards Tavern Spruce, an intriguingly spiced beer that tastes incredible in bottle and can only be better on draft was also on the list. Avery's White Rascal was also represented, as was...sh*t, I can't remember any others! I did have to drive, you know. As this missive is typed on Monday, here is some of what they are putting out there tonight if you feel like killing a few pints on the first day of the week: Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Founders Dirty Bastard Ale, Victory Moonglow, Weyerbacher Verboten, and more. The mind both boggles and begins plans on designing a teleport.
Then there is the video games. Frogger, Burger Time, Donkey Kong, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. They have them all and many, many more. I was very disappointed by my Frogger performance, if I am telling the truth. This is a game I used to have mastered and on this night, before beverage consumption, I was unable to escape the first round. It is a memory that I'm quite sure would have scarred my cerebral cortex...if I had not wiped the bad taste out of my mouth with an impressive run on WWF Wrestlefest, the old-school wrestling throwdown that was invented back when the World Wildlife Foundation didn't seem to care that Vince McMahon had jacked their abbreviation. Using the beastly combination of Ted "Million Dollar Man" DiBiase and The Ultimate Warrior, myself and my friend went on a shriek-inducing tear that only ended when the lethal combination of Hawk and Animal, the Legion of Doom, proved too much for our bruised-and-beaten combatants (or maybe it was simply because my brother ran out of coins to keep feeding the machine). Anyway, as we trounced Earthquake and Sgt. Slaughter and Mr. Perfect and the like into submission, high-fives were exchanged, hugs were handed out like prostitute ads on the Vegas strip, and yelps of glee resounded throughout the simply adorned hall in a manner that could rival the Spoon and Deerhunter that emerged from the bar's speakers. Basically, we acted like five-year-olds. Five-year-olds who were drinking delicious beers, yes. But five-year-olds all the same. It was bliss.
I should say that one of the things I was going to list as a negative of Barcade was the fact that it doesn't serve food. But, duh, I must have been too hung up on Ms. Pac-Man to get hungry because I didn't look very hard evidently. They absolutely have a menu of sandwiches and small plates. Highlights on paper include the smoked pork & green sauce tacos and an interesting spin on the BLT. It's simple, but it seems like it would be good enough to hold you over until you could get to a suitable pizza place to soak up the booze.
Now that I have effused at length about the place, it is only fair that I list some things that could be seen as red flags. First, I know that the video game thing is sort of secondary and all of the games are ironic. I get it. But if I were to frequent the place (and I won't because I am old as balls and live a SEPTA train ride away), I wonder if I would want a little bit of a rotation of the games as well as the beers. I mean, I can play WWF Wrestlefest until the average hipster runs out of fake glasses to wear, but things could get a little bit boring if the games were to stay the same for too long of a duration. It would be interesting to know what the owners have in mind. I would also say that the parking situation could be hell until the place loses its new-car smell. I saw characters parking up on the sidewalk only to come out to their cars and find out that they had been parked in. In all fairness, those people parking them in were parked legally on the street. All I'm saying is there is no parking lot and the amount of street parking is finite. Could be dangerous especially as unsuspecting Chuck Taylor wearers begin leaving their cars in some of the area's less desirable locales. Finally, we are talking beers and video games. So, a bit of a sausage fest. Which can get really bad because hipsters wear really tight pants.
Anyway, we'll see. No place is without its kinks, I suppose. Still, one thing is for sure: You can bet that I will be back to Barcade one or two more times before I shuffle off this mortal coil. And I've got dibs on the Million Dollar Man.
1114 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
The Pizza Project
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