Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 16, 2022.
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We always wondered what would go into the old movie theater space in South Side Works, and we have to admit an entertainment complex was not the first thing on our radar.
But when Columbus-based Pins Mechanical Co. announced they were opening a two-floor, 30,000-square-foot bar and gaming facility, complete with duckpin bowling, pinball, vintage arcade games, and more, we were intrigued.
We were fortunate enough to check this one out shortly after opening for a media event, and have to admit this one packs a punch (and then some)!
Two Floors of Fun at Pins Mechanical in South Side
The first thing you'll notice when you enter Pins Mechanical is that it does not feel like a traditional entertainment complex or barcade. That is to say, the games are not packed into every available square foot of the space.
Instead, Pins Mechanical utilizes the former movie theater space well in that games are available in various themed nooks within the facility. The duckpin bowling lanes are spread out in several sections, the arcade games are primarily found in a separate area on the main level, and the pinball machines are tastefully arranged throughout- with a beautiful presentation on the 2nd floor outright.
As such, you can have different kinds of experiences when visiting here simply based on what section(s) of the facility you want to hang out in. We found ourselves drawn to their 2nd-floor patio, particularly for the outdoor fire pit with bar, which was just a few steps away from the previously mentioned pinball arrangement. Later on, we made our way to the duckpin bowling section of the venue for a round where we felt completely removed from all of the other fun as well.
To us, this is a good thing as the ambiance here was meticulously thought out for guests of all interests. Had we turned around and saw an entire floor of pinball and arcade machines behind us when bowling, for example, the experience just would not have felt the same.
Perhaps the best part about Pins Mechanical is that they have two prominent slides right in the heart of the facility for those who want to make a dramatic exit from the 2nd floor. If you are leaning into being kids again, you can truly do it in style here!
Finally, while it is worth noting that Pins Mechanical is family-friendly during the day, they turn into a 21+ venue exclusively after 8 pm nightly. This is common amongst barcades in Pittsburgh and should be noted for all those visiting with kids.
A Large Bar Program Rounds Out the Experience
Outside of the games, Pins Mechanical Company has not one, not two, but three bars in their two-floor space. One bar is on the first floor, one bar is on the second, and a third is a hybrid indoor/outdoor bar on their 2nd-floor patio (you can order on both sides!).
The bar menu here is a healthy mix of approximately a dozen cocktails, 36 draft beers, mocktails, and more. While most of the bars carry the same menu, it is worth noting that the tap list may vary as some bars, like the 2nd-floor patio bar, are slightly smaller than the main bars outright.
So, what are the drinks like?
On the cocktail side of things, many of the beverages are game themed like the Pinball Wizard (blueberry vodka with elderflower, ginger ale, and blueberries) or contain a unique food element as well like the Hulk Hogan (blueberry vodka with lemonade and an entire Bomb Pop) or the Ginger Spice (bourbon with ginger beer, lime, cinnamon bitters, and a caramel apple sucker) to name a few. These drinks trend on the sweeter side, as is often typical at barcade concepts, but are well-balanced all-around for the ingredients in each drink.
Yes, having a whole Bomb Pop or caramel apple sucker to enjoy after a libation is as fun as the drinks themselves, and we appreciate the novelty of these even if they're not our preferred cocktail style outright. (Although for purists, we should note the bars offer higher-end spirits too!)
On the beer side of things, the draft list at Pins Mechanical runs the spectrum from large domestic producers and international favorites to local and regional craft brews. Weihenstephaner from Germany was found next to Dancing Gnome's Lustra, Penn Brewery's Dark, Cincinnati-based Urban Artifact's Spyglass, Yuengling, and Miller Lite to name a few. Suffice it to say, the draft list here has a little something for all interests which we appreciate.
Despite the large bar program at Pins Mechanical Co., it is worth noting that this one does not serve food- only libations. But while this one could likely do well with a food menu, there is one tangential benefit worth highlighting as a result- they're dog friendly.
Yes, this bar and entertainment complex allows you to bring your furry friend out for the fun and is a nice little side perk for those who have a pup. (As a bonus, the South Side Works dog park is just out front of the facility, too!)
Overall, Pins Mechanical in South Side did a rather spectacular job renovating the former movie theater space into a monster entertainment complex for those who like arcade games, pinball, duckpin bowling, and so much more. If you are looking for a little fun outside of South Side's normal bar scene (and perhaps still want a libation to go along with it), this one offers a welcomed change of scenery and we look forward to visiting more in the future!
Pins Mechanical is located at 407 Cinema Drive in South Side Works. Please note they are 21+ only after 8 pm and operate cashless bars. We were guests of Pins Mechanical for a media night. As always, all opinions are our own.
Looking for more great places for pinball and arcade games in Pittsburgh? Click the previous link to check out some of our favorites!
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