For years Montrealers have complained about a distinct lack of arcade bars in the city. And while there isn't exactly an official "barcade" where you can play arcade games for free while drinking pints, that doesn't mean there aren't some very legit options for a night out gaming in Montreal.
Using a little creativity, Montreal bar owners have been able to incorporate video games into their establishments, despite the city's rather unsupportive stance on the fusion of gaming and drinking.
Good thing they have, too, because a city like Montreal, with a thriving video game industry, needs to have video game bars. And below, you can find some of the best, with a few events in the mix for good measure.
323 Ontario E
Described as a "smart bar," Nexus is one part gaming space, one part cafe, and all parts bar. Meant to be a meeting space for all those who enjoy video games, from casual players to industry professionals, Nexus has legit cocktails and always has more than a few games prepped on the bar's many screens. Be sure to check out some of the many events the bar hosts, too.
Montreal Forum’s Game Centre
2313 Sainte-Catherine W
Right at the top of the Montreal Forum (so the fourth floor) lies an underappreciated gaming gem, in my opinion. Equipped with a wide variety of arcade games (from fighters to skeeball) and attached to a fully equipped resto-bar, the Montreal Forum's Game Centre is pretty legit. Unfortunately, it's also a tad pricy and the electronic card readers they use for the games can be a little hit-and-miss, but every time I've gone has been a solid night of gaming.
Laid back and super chill, Foonzo is what it would be like if your basement gaming den turned into a bar. The fact that the bar is actually below ground adds to that ambiance, as does the general dive-bar feel of the place. With a mix of old school consoles attached to small screens by tables, along with a hot mix of board games, Foonzo provides you with plenty to play, and even more to game. Hats off to the staff for creating cartoon-inspired cocktails too, like their Jem and The Holograms drink, which, as a not-quite-secret Jem fan, instantly made me giddy.
Amusement 2000 Plus
1381 Sainte Catherine W
The only straight-up arcade to grace this list, Amusement 2000 Plus still warrants a place on this list simply because it provides you with tons of gaming options well into the night. Later than most bars, actually, as the arcade is open 'til 4:30am on weekends. And there's nothing stopping you from having a few drinks then heading to Amusement 2000 Plus for some late night arcade'ing.
913 Beaubien E
What's better than retro console gaming and Mexican food? Honestly, almost nothing. You'll get both at Nacho Libre, as the bar is fully equipped to meet your video game and taco needs. The only downside to Nacho Libre is that the designated gaming space is kind of small, so you're not guaranteed a round or two, but the bar's energy and ambiance is energetic enough to keep you entertained anyway.
North Star Pinball
3908 Saint Laurent
Okay, so pinball machines aren't exactly video games, but they were the closest thing the world had back in the day, and North Star is all about celebrating the arcade games of yore. Heralded as one of the best places in the world to play old school pinball machines (the bar uses refurbished models from the 40s to 80s), North Star has been a welcome new addition to the Saint Laurent scene since it opened this past January. Add in their legit food menu and you have a recipe for fun.
Not quite a bar, ArcadeMTL is more of a community that hosts events where video games and drinking are at the forefront. Focusing on a particular game or genre per event, ArcadeMTL then lets everyone know where the whole thing is going down, with attendees needing to pay a cover charge and bring their own drank. All in all, every ArcadeMTL event is equal parts fun and chill, and entirely designed for gamers.
1450 Saint Catherine E (Play Montreal)
Now, if you happen to be a gaymer like myself (so you're gay and love video games) then Gaymer Zone is pretty much tailored to you. Currently hosted at Play in the Village, Gaymer Zone centers each event around one particular title, with a few regulars (like DDR) always in the mix. The community is incredibly welcoming, too, so even if you don't identify as gay, feel free to take part.
3643 Saint Laurent
Better known for its DJs and long-as-hell lines, Apt. 200 is also something of an arcade bar, since it does have legit arcade games like Time Crisis and whatever you call that one where you shoot the basketball in the hoop over and over again. Not exactly conducive for gaming on a Friday night, Apt. 200 is actually a pretty great place to burn a few quarters on an arcade title during off-hours or after work.
3550 Saint Jacques
Since all of these real-world escape the room games are based on video/internet games, I feel entirely justified with including A/Maze on this list. No, it isn't really a video game bar, but's it's essentially a real life video game you get to play out with your friends. Of course, there are more than a few escape the room games to hit up in Montreal, but A/Maze is celebrated as the best, but you can check out some of the rest here.