The pinnacle of any childhood visit to the pizza parlor – and just being a kid in general – was stealing away from your parents with some quarters to hit the dingy arcade cabinets in the corner. Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade, a brilliant Manhattan iteration of the arcade bar concept, is where every one of those games hangs out on their night off. Not only is it a front-runner for least pretentious bar on the island, you and your friends finally have something to do when wondering, “Hey, what’re we up to tonight?” Don’t just go stare at each other over beers. Stare at primitive-looking, Falcon Crest-era video screens instead, while doubling down on nostalgia with brews in hand.
You’re greeted by Ms. Pacman and Galaga right at the door to the slender, dimly-lit bar and game hall. Two-Bit’s has some power-ups over other arcade drinkeries, starting with a unique pinball collection right up front that continues past two long rows of retro-arcade cabinets and a short, 11-seater bar. Right away, you jump on the hippest pinball table – The Walking Dead – and proceed to work your way around to the machines at the back wall: Twilight Zone, Star Wars: Episode I (complete with a glowing green lightsaber), and The Sopranos.
After demolishing all contenders at pinball, keep talking up your mean Donkey Kong skills as you pull up a stool to the dark, cozy countertop, decked with a street-art mural of video game stars like Luigi and a sexy Ms. Pacman. Meanwhile, a shoot-’em-up ’80s cop flick projects on the back white-tiled wall. Complementing eight draft beers and Colt 45 40s (seriously) are sake bombs, served dry or sweet. Or, you can pretend to be a proper grownup with a pick from four red and five white wines on shelves behind the bar. You haven’t really experienced Street Fighter II until you’ve defeated M. Bison one-handed while sipping Prosecco.
The friendly fire continues with ’80s classics on one side (Tetris, Punch-Out!!, Frogger), and often-overlooked ’90s nostalgia on the other (Crazy Taxi, NBA Jam, and a Boxer punching bag). Rumor has it, the basement office hides an ultra rare Star Warrior cabinet. But even if you don’t glimpse it, the torn-up skate decks on the wall and an orange mohawked skeleton behind the bar make you feel like a grade-school bad boy sporting jet-black Ray-Bans – with nothing to lose but a heck of lot of quarters.