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Everyone knows that most (if not all) activities are more fun when you add alcohol. Gaming is no exception. Video game bars—or barcades—is the latest city nightlife fad to sweep the nation, so if you’re looking for something else to do other than watch sports while pounding back brews, get your game on at the coolest video game bars in country.
309 W Pender St, Vancouver
Complete with a full menu and drink list all bearing gaming-related names (we’re vying to try their Super Smash Nachos and a pint of craft off their extensive Beers of War list), Vancouver’s first video game bar EXP offers a community hub for social gaming. Throwdown at their two vintage Street Fighter arcade cabinets or choose from one of their many retro and modern consoles.
511 20th St W, Saskatoon
At Bartari, every table is decked out with new and retro consoles that can be played while accompanied by standard Canadian bar fare. Power up and refuel with poutines, wraps and burgers and wash them down with beers and cocktails. Five bucks gets you unlimited gaming for the night, but the bar offers free gaming every Tuesday. Bartari also operates during the daytime on weekends as family-friendly spot for food and gaming.
38 Wellington St E, Toronto
This St. Lawrence neighbourhood spot prides itself on bringing together both hardcore and casual gamers into the same friendly and welcoming environment. With new and old favourites like Mario Party and NBA Jam that you can play for free, Power Up feels less like your childhood basement and more like the futuristic video game lair of your dreams. Bathed in blue neon light, the slick space has private booths from groups, a bar area for those who want to mingle and bigger spaces for groups playing games like Just Dance and Rock Band.
831 Dundas St, Toronto
For a grungier feel, head to Dundas Video. This dive bar on the west end has vintage video games, consoles and VHS tapes. Here, it’s also free to play games (but for the rarer games, you will have to leave your credit card with the bartender). Dundas Video also doubles as an event space to host art installations, live music and after parties.
323 Ontario Est, Montreal
Nexus SmartBar is a gaming space, cafe and bar all rolled into one. While it is a bar to leisurely drink (they have a full gaming-themed custom cocktail list) and relax at, Nexus also acts as a meeting place for industry professionals. Developers, designers, concept artists and all other video game enthusiasts congregate and network at the frequent eSports tournaments and other gaming community events the bar hosts.