Welcome to the future nerd sanctuary of Miami. An arcade bar has finally landed in south Florida.
Forget "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A"; with a great craft beer selection, eye-catching artwork, video games, and owners who want to embrace the geek community, ARTcade has all the cheat codes for a flawless victory.
The arcade-themed bar's mission? To combine craft brews and vintage video games with a gallery-esque space featuring local artists. Much like the video games inside it, ARTcade is beginning its quest at Stage 1-1. Armed with a couple 60-in-1 arcade cabinets, the hero of our story has enough artillery to conquer the first level.
"More games are coming," promised general manager Carlos Rojas, who said the possibilities are endless. Quarter-hungry games like Metal Slug, The Simpsons, and Street Fighter II will be accompanied by classics like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man. (This is when ARTCADE will enter its final form: Stage 8-8.)
Walking into ARTcade Friday night was like entering a secret club. The curtains were drawn, and there was no signage, only a flyer posted to the window. An ultra-friendly, bouncy-haired bartender, Sasha, greeted me. After a quick glance at the beer selection, I went with Green Flash Brewing Company's Le FREAK.
Above the bar, a projector was playing a mildly interesting Cirque du Soleil video. The visual artist featured on ARTcade's walls for its opening was Spanish radio and television personality Nestor Paz. His work is a combination of cubism and abstract styles. Dynamic colors are crossed with hard lines to create the figures throughout his collection.
After perusing Paz's art (well worth experiencing) and downing a couple Le Freaks, It was time to get my game on. Armed with a fist full of quarters, I pumped the machines full of nickel and copper, and was greeted with a large selection of NAMCO classics. The Joystick was smooth and responsive, all the buttons worked to perfection. I was transported: The year was 1985, "Careless Whisper" was playing, and I had a hair pick in my afro.
After a couple rounds, I needed to reload and eat something. ARTcade is in the heart of South Beach, surrounded by some truly delicious eateries and adjacent to a Starbucks that's open 'til midnight on the weekend. After a couple of Burger-Fi patties and a caffeine boost, I came back to ARTcade -- and to a gnarly party. DJ Ray Milan had arrived and he was spinning some, like, totally tubular '80s tunes. Earth Girls Are Easy was playing on the projector. Nothing makes me happier than Jeff Goldblum covered in blue fur.
The drinks and quarters were flowing, my feet were moving, and that's when I realized it: ARTcade, I think I love you.
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