Occupying the southern end of what’s swiftly become one of the most interesting blocks in downtown Columbus, 16-Bit Bar + Arcade has been eagerly welcomed, a testament to the glorious neon-lit days of the 1980s and early ’90s.
With dozens of classic arcade games to choose from – think Donkey Kong, Galaga, NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat – it's hard not to be giddy about the place, 254 S. Fourth St.
Plus, if you drink, you play for free, which means that you can leave the change jar at home.
(Though, smartly, 16-Bit does state a few important House Rules that patrons are expected to follow.)
Thirsty gamers are given more than a few great choices.
Beer drinkers can take their pick between $6 drafts or $5 specialty cans (Revolution’s Anti-Hero IPA is always a good choice), with draft prices at happy hour dropping to $4, and though the draft list isn't particularly extensive, it's savvy enough to please most discerning tastes.
As well, those looking for something simpler, there are $3 basic brews (Budweiser and the like) or $2 PBRs.
Much to my surprise, it was 16-Bit's cocktails that really impressed. Games can take their pick between either “Old School” or “New Wave” cocktails, both $8, and each category offers a wide selection of tempting concoctions that all bear the names of some of the 1980s' culture's most cherished men and women.
Being partial to the Old School, I gravitated towards the “Burt Reynolds,” which was an excellent bourbon-based cocktail rounded out with sugar, orange, cherry and angostura bitters, while a friend opted to go for a New Wave elixir known as the “Kelly Le Broc”, which was a delicious and refreshing mixture of whiskey, melon, lemon, lime and Sprite.
Though 16-Bit doesn’t offer food, the wonderful triad of El Camino, Little Palace and Dirty Franks certainly can supply adequate sustenance.
While some critics might charge that 16-Bit caters to a rather specific demographic, it would be a shame for anyone to write off the spot before giving it a chance. After all, you don't have to know what a “Dolph Lundgren” is to know that drinking one while dominating friends in electronic combat is a pleasure meant to be enjoyed by all.
Jeb Bernert is an associate at Gentile’s, the Wine Sellers – www.gentiles.com.