Last Updated on September 6, 2022 by Jeremy
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Barcadia opened in 2022 as a second-floor concept for The Market Exchange. This bar, accessed via a separate staircase at street level, boasts 35 games (a mix of pinball and arcade games), a bar, food service from nearby Slider Vibes, and access to a backroom speakeasy with separate bar menu to name a few.
For our first visit, we had a bit of time before a dinner reservation downtown and decided to pop by to play a few games with an alcoholic beverage. While I want to tell you that we liked our brief time at Barcadia, I have to admit, there were several misses here.
Barcadia's Bar Program Simply Isn't For Us
We first made our way to the bar at Barcadia for a cocktail. While this one is predominantly a cocktail bar, they also offer cans of beer and seltzer, mocktails that can be made alcoholic with an added shot, “multi-player” cocktails in the form of a fish bowl (available in two sizes), and themed shots. To play on the barcade concept even further, most of the beverages had video game references for names, like Ralph Gets Wrecked or Flawless Victory, which we very much appreciated.
The mocktail side of the menu was nice to see as this is a family-friendly arcade during the day and only turns into 21+ at night (hours for this restriction may vary, so reconfirm before visiting). The drinks on this side of the menu amounted to flavored syrup and/or juice added to traditional sodas and read like it would be the perfect kind of sugar high for any teenager with a pocket full of quarters.
On the 21+ side of the menu, the bar featured four cocktails on draft. These read similar to the style of the mocktail menu (juices, sodas, and syrups) but with a spirit or two added- and that was about it. A few were sold out due to an upcoming menu change, so we opted for the Turtle Power which was made with gin, apple pucker sour, simple syrup, peach schnapps, and Sprite.
It was probably one of the sweetest drinks I've had in the city, and not in a good way.
Between the soda, syrup, and pucker, the drink was a bright green form of what tasted simply like liquid sugar. I, sadly, could barely taste any gin or schnapps at all, and honestly didn't really want to finish it in the slightest. Although in an effort of full disclosure I will say that I did finish this one if only because I am an adult-sized teenager who also loves sugar and had a pocket full of quarters- it just wasn't what I would've preferred for a cocktail overall.
In a way, this cocktail (and the menu at large) reminded me of the fishbowls I had more times than I cared to admit in college. If this is your kind of drink then the menu will speak to you, but it was sadly not for us. Will the cocktail menu change improve this or are the drinks in the back speakeasy better? We will find out on our next visit! (Note- the speakeasy was seemingly closed for a private event during our visit so we couldn't check it out on this stop.)
The Arcade Machines Are Hit or Miss As Well
On the games side of the spectrum, Barcadia is like any 80s or 90s kid's dream. For its modest space, Barcadia truly has a wonderful mix of games that will surely speak to any gamer who walks through the doors.
Arcade hits like Mortal Kombat I, II, and III can be found next to several iterations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Fighter, and even older games like Tron, Space Invaders, and more. The pinball collection is also solid and has a mix of classics as well as new, modern machines with more interactive elements as well.
As we visited together, apart from a round of pinball solo, we tried to play a few multiplayer games and found that several of the machines we wanted to play had at least one coin slot not functional, which limited our selection a bit. Another game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, simply reset on us as we made it to round two with what appeared to be a weird “out of memory” style console error.
While there are far more games that were available and functioning (even for two players), we thought it was rather unfortunate that several of the games we picked at random weren't in full working order. So if you have your heart set on enjoying a specific game from your childhood, you may just want to be a bit more flexible here.
- This advice is applicable at any retro arcade we've been to. Old machines are just temperamental at the best of times.
Overall, although Barcadia misses the mark for us on the drinks and some less-than-fully-functional machines, we must admit we love the idea of a Barcade in Market Square- especially one that is open late (especially on weekends) and turns into an adults-only space in the evening hours. We intend to give this one another shot, particularly for the speakeasy concept in the back room, but have to admit we also can also simply see ourselves popping in for a quick pinball game here or there when downtown as well!
Barcadia is located at 25 Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh on the 2nd floor (accessible via stairs).