The Top Ten Pinball Bars In New York City

Due to the crushing prices and lack of real estate, not to mention some straggling anti-racketeering laws, New York City ain't exactly Portland when it comes to fully stocked pinball palaces. While most bars that bother to haul in a pinball game only haul in one or two, things aren't too grim for flipper fanatics. Given inflation, pinball should be about $4.50 per game, but has awesomely stayed at around 50 cents per three balls since around 2000. Hence it's one of your best entertainment options on a cheap night out.

10. Brooklyn Ice House So much of the fun of pinball is how cool it feels to approach a machine in a dark corner, lean on it, shake it a bit, and shove more money into it when it's being kind, all while letting its fab glow bounce off you, making you look better—not unlike flirting with women. For that you have this excellent, grimy, friendly dive in Red Hook. If any patrons are actually there, half of them are staycationists from Manhattan slumming for a night, and probably hanging out back in the patio; the other half are local drunks. So you can usually stride right up to the machine (Iron Man at the moment) and slap away to your hearts content. 318 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, 718-222-1865

9. Kettle of Fish Ditto the Ice House vibe, only you're in the West Village, so there's a better chance of some rich douchebag annoying you by asking "They still make those things?!" while you're trying to play. That said, this is a pretty cool, friendly place that's only slightly sports bar-y; it has a jukebox, too, which should be some kind of law for bars with pinball machines. Plus you can osmosisly feel cool because Jack Kerouac hung out there. I hear he sucked at pinball though. (7B, at 108 Ave. B, is the 9a. here.) 59 Christopher Street, Manhattan, 212-414-2278

The Top Ten Pinball Bars In New York City
Mission Dolores Bar/Flickr

8. Mission Dolores Expect this mucho-elbow-room, half open-air favorite to be packed—and with the way the games are set against the wall, things can get surprisingly tight for those who like to really get physical with their machine. But come in early on a Tuesday night, nab a pint from their fine tap list, and get flipping on one of their two games. The wall right next to you—full of old prison mug shots—makes for a nice nod to pinball's outlaw past. 249 4th Ave., Brooklyn, 718-399-0099

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