Believe it or not: The first and only time I went to Dave & Buster’s was three years ago. As a 90s kid, I know I’m late to the game. The original “Dave & Busters” was opened in 1982 and immediately became a trend – I mean, who could think of combining a restaurant – arcade – sports bar into one? It then grew into a chain with over 140 locations. Until now, the business is still thriving, although there are many hipster arcade bars doing a booming business in every metro area throughout the US.
Initially, I couldn’t understand why. Like, how does it attract visitors without original Obert arcade cabinets or craft beer – which is the soul of every modern arcade bar? Is drinking sugary cocktails and playing Pop-A-Shot someone’s idea of a great Friday night? Or like, is anyone actually having fun in places like Dave & Busters at all?
Only when I got in a D&B myself did I understand why: Well, yes, it might seem like an old-school “eatertainment” at first glance, but this arcade – sports bar and restaurant really stands out for offering a unique atmosphere and gaming experience that plenty of Americans finds alluring. I played, ate, drank, and made new best friends at the Dallas D&B from 11:30 am until it closed at 1 am, and after my 13.5 hours there, D&B officially became one of my most exciting places in the world. Here’s why.
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What Makes Dave & Buster Irresistible?
I decided to write about my experience at Dave & Busters when I was barely 3 hours with an email-delivered gift from my bestie. I had already had a bear and D&B signature chicken fingers – which were hilariously named after the craziest James Bond theme track – “Octopussyfungers”. Just kidding, they’re called Legendary Goldfingers.
At this point, there were around 50 people on the “casino” floor, a mix of kids running around and, strangely, adults. Just like a casino, this place is jam-packed with folks who look like your grandparents. Unlike a casino, not everyone was holding a drink, and you could see children everywhere. I sat next to a couple with a slew of tickets in front of them. You could get those tickets from arcane games, and according to the women, they were about to get a Wii with all the tickets they won.
Many people kept coming back to D&B for those tickets. In the “shop” of The Winners Circle, they could be redeemed for cash or prizes. I had played enough to know how long it would take to save up for a PlayStation 4, yet it was still tempting even for someone like me.
From there, you can see some of the reasons Dave & Busters is irresistible, and no, I’m not talking about the tickets alone!
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It’s A Kid-Friendly Destination
As mentioned, you can see plenty of kids having a blast at Dave & Busters. Well yes, D&B is the combination of a sports bar and a restaurant, so it might not be the first thing in our mind when it comes to family entertainment. But, don’t forget that it is also an arcade! The game room features games for little kids, so there are plenty of things to keep your children entertained for hours.
Next time, if you want an exciting evening with your 5-year-old, simply take him there and teach him how to play Skee Ball, Carnival-type games, or Soccer/Basketball games with real balls. Wrap the evening up with some fun desserts like sugar churros or strawberry shortcakes, and both of you will have a great time!
There is only one thing to keep in mind, though: Some Dave & Buster’s locations do have a strict curfew requiring everyone under 21 to leave by 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. Hence, you might want to plan your schedule if you want a great family night there.
Yet There’s Alcohol
Let’s face it: We, as adults, love to drink. Who wouldn’t want to take a sip while playing video games? My friends and I all agree that it was a brilliant idea to create an arcade with a bar. It feels almost like being at a casino, except that you are not allowed to smoke in the gaming room, and there are a lot more games.
You Might Not Believe It, But The Food Is Actually Good
As an entertainment-focused chain, people go to Dave & Buster’s to watch major sporting events and play the latest game. Yet, back in the 1970s, Busta Rhymes – the co-founder of Dave & Buster’s – began his journey by opening a restaurant known for its tasty foods and friendly service.
So, in case you thought this place was only for games, beer, and wings, let me be the first to tell you that it’s not the case! Dave & Buster’s actually has a lot of great foods to offer, especially after the menu update in spring 2021 when they developed a new lineup that will make even the pickiest eater happy.
The first time I went to a D&B, I tried the essential must-order dish suggested by Redditors, “Korean Sticky Ribs”. I’ve had more ribs than I can count at chain restaurants, and to be completely honest with you, they lean on the dry side more often than not. Dave & Buster’s ribs were completely different: They were moist, tender, and candied. I took the leftovers home and ate them next to my fridge at 10 p.m. and wanted to weep when they were gone.
Meanwhile, my friend who came with me said that the best burger on the menu is undoubtedly Beastmode Bacon Burger, which consists of braised pork belly and applewood smoked bacon. For the cocktail? Strawberry Watermelon Margarita is definitely the MVP!
It Has All Of Your Favorite Video Games
Anyone who enjoys playing arcade games (who wouldn’t?) will find themselves getting lost in a Dave & Buster’s. Trust me when I say you are not gonna find any dusty Pac-Man cabinets here. Owing to their reputation for offering electronic diversions, a typical Dave & Buster’s will have over $1 million worth of arcade and interactive games on hand. This includes everything, from classic Skee-Ball to the trendiest shooting games or interactive games such as Dance Dance Revolution.
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You can even make money out of those games. Remember what I mentioned earlier about the tickets? There are plenty of people who camp in D&B and use their skills to accumulate those. They then exchange the tickets for prizes that can be sold for cash. The truly gifted can earn up to $50 worth of merchandise an hour. The restaurants don’t typically have a problem with these attempts, but if they’re winning too much or preventing other customers from using machines, management might ask them to leave.
They Offer Great Deals And Promotions
Every time you visit a D&B, you will find some kind of special offer going on. That means you can enjoy a good time here without breaking the bank, as long as you remember to check out their promotion in advance. It’s easy to stick to your budget when there are offers like half-off days and seasonal specials. With the economy the way that it is, that’s really important!
What If You Are Far From D&B But Still Want To Have A Similar Experience?
But if Dave & Busters is really that wonderful, why haven’t I come back there since? The answer is simple: All the locations are far away from my place. Yes, there are 144 D&Bs across the U.S, which sounds like a lot, but most of them are located in Texas. I absolutely adore the vibes, but it’s not like I will travel all the way there just to play Pop-A-Shot or treat myself to some Korean Sticky Ribs.
That said, right after I got back, I made it my mission to find some places like Dave and Buster’s. The list below is for those like me who want to find a similar experience yet can’t always visit a D&B.
Places Like Dave And Buster’s – Bowlmor Atlanta
- Address: 2175 Savoy Dr, Atlanta, GA 30341, United States
- Tel: +1 770-451-8605
With a rating of 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor, Bowlmor Atlanta offers a lot of space to have a good time in the evening. It is best known for superb bowling lanes (“the best in Georgia”, according to user Modelkimberley1), but it also has gaming, restaurants, and other amenities, just like Dave and Buster’s.
What do I like about Bowlmor Atlanta? Well, everything. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful, the area is clean and well-maintained, and the foods are delicious. Since the restaurant is right in front of the lanes, you can watch someone bowl while enjoying your meal or take a bite while waiting for your turn. In addition, there is a fantastic DJ and a VIP area where you can chill out.
There is enough fun for your whole family, but if you only come for bowling, I’d recommend booking your lane online before you arrive. Private lanes can also be reserved for special events and parties.
The Night Game Houston
- Address: 2610 Farm to Market 1960 Rd E, Houston, TX 77073
- Tel: +281 645-4589
This is another restaurant – bar-arcade combination, but unlike other places like Dave And Buster’s, The Night Game Houston is not kid-friendly. To book your spot, you have to be 21 years old or above. Still, this largest, most luxurious night playground will promise you and your partner endless fun from 9 pm to 3 am.
Here at TNG, you will find fully-equipped private playrooms with security & cleaning staff, as well as a 1200 square-foot dance floor, complete with a dance cage, 2 dance poles, and a shadow box for the hottest silhouette shows! All are accompanied by the best music provided by professional DJs, complimentary drink set-ups with a full waitstaff, a covered patio, and complimentary refreshments!
Places Like Dave And Buster’s – Laser Bounce
- Address: 80-28 Cooper Ave Regal Cinemas Building, 11385
- Tel: +1 347-599-1919
Laser Bounce is a family-fun area with many features, so you and your kids can spend the entire day here without getting bored.
There aren’t many food choices, but the place makes up for it with plenty of gaming options. Shooting, bouncing area, virtual reality, arcade, laser tag, air hockey, bowling, and ping pong are just some of the games available. After winning, you can also exchange for exciting prizes!
On TripAdvisor, Laser Bounce receives many compliments for excellent customer service. There are several ticket options available, but for me, the one with the best value is the unlimited one-hour pass. You may also purchase packages online.
Places Like Dave And Buster’s – Chuck E. Cheese
If you have searched for places like Dave And Buster’s, you must have heard of Chuck E. Cheese. With 612 corporate and franchise stores, this brand is currently Dave And Buster’s biggest competitor. They have a huge advantage: You might not have a D&B nearby, but you will find a Chuck E. Cheese in your area.
Although you won’t find as many arcade games as a D&B has, there is still a vast choice of entertainment for your family. In addition, there are live performances for visitors to enjoy every weekend.
Before your visit, it is recommended to check out their website since you can find some juicy deals there. What’s more, Chuck E. Cheese is known as the best place to host an event or a birthday party. They put out various packages for you can choose from so you don’t have to worry about the budget.
Family Arcade LA
- Address: 876 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
- Phone: (323) 660-8180
Shout out to LA residents! Family Arcade LA is the best alternative to D&B in California. If you want to forget about the world for a day and just have fun, this place is a must-see. They keep their establishment in excellent condition, and you will find it hygienic, with multiple sanitizer dispensers.
You can park your car at the parking lot behind the building, completely free of charge. There are numerous games and pinball machines, and the game selection is top-notch. The only problem is that they only accept cash payments, but they have installed a site ATM, which is unusual. They will give you a wristband with unlimited play, except for the claw machine, for $25 for all-day fun.
Eat, Drink, Play!
Come to think of it, the reason people get sucked to places like Dave & Buster’s is simple: Whenever you get an awful day or are just buried under workloads, D&B offers an escape. You play games, you drink, you meet people – it’s all that matters. For a few hours, you get to forget about the world outside and immerse yourself in an environment that naturally brings people together. The games and the drinks help bring us closer, whether it’s you and the girl you took out on a date or some guy you just met who almost got on Shark Tank.
And sometimes, you even get to walk out a winner.
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