Origin story: Native Northeast Ohioan Troy Allen's second 16-Bit location (the first is in Columbus) levels up our childhood nostalgia to the extreme. The music is strictly '80s or early '90s, while the cocktails include the Ralph Macchio, Molly Ringwald or Punky Brewster. Forty arcade games, including Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, The Simpsons, Super Pac-Man, Pole Position and Galaga, provide a din that's music to our ears. "That whole era just resonates with me," says Allen, 41. "We wanted to create that atmosphere, not just throw games into a bar. "
Special move: Every game is set to free play mode, saving us fists full of quarters to plunk down on the all day, every day $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons.
The Side Quest
Origin story: The characters in The Big Bang Theory wish they had somewhere like Sam Bridgeman's the Side Quest to drink beer, eat food, play games, discuss the complexity of Jefferies tubes or watch Doctor Who. Geeks and nerds of all stripes will feel at home here with 22 beers on tap and cocktails such as butter beer — a cream soda, vanilla vodka, butterscotch and cinnamon schnapps concoction topped with whipped cream. The steam buns even have insider geek names such as the 1-UP mushroom patty. "It's about having a place where [nerds] feel comfortable," says Bridgeman, an avid comic book collector.
Special move: Side Quest has card and board games for rent. Themed nights, including Mario Mondays, and weekly TV watch parties keep the diversions coming.