Try a (video) game night at H Street's Atlas Arcade
By Fritz Hahn
Friday, January 4, 2013
Like many who grew up in the 1980s, I spent a lot of time playing video games, pumping quarter after quarter into machines at the local mall in the hope of getting my initials among the high scores. The power of nostalgia for those simpler times is why I keep finding myself at Atlas Arcade when I’m barhopping on H Street NE. After all, who can resist the pairing of DC Brau and “Donkey Kong”?
Atlas is home to a dozen old-school arcade games: there are the ’80s wizards-and-warriors machines “Golden Axe” and “Magic Sword,” multi-player “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “the Simpsons,” plus foosball, pool and darts. A small bar counter features two taps and a decent selection of canned and bottled beers ($3.50 Natty Boh to $6 Lost Rhino and Bell’s). Snacks include Pop-Tarts and individual-sized breakfast cereals, so eat elsewhere first.
There’s a change machine on the wall; no need to ask bartenders for quarters. Unfortunately, there are no shelves next to the games, so if you want to set your drink down between levels of “Double Dragon II” or “Operation Thunderbolt,” grab an extra stool before the game starts.
The arcade also shows ’80s and ’90s movies on Sunday nights. Look for themed pairings like “Spaceballs” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” on Jan. 13.
Owner Erik Holzherr, who also runs the Church & State cocktail bar upstairs, rotates games a few times a year; the original Shinobi is among the titles that have come and gone since Atlas’s July opening.
If he could get “Paperboy” and the original “X-Men,” I’d never leave.
Atlas Arcade, 1236 H St. NE. 202-399-2323. www.dcatlasarcade.com.