At MLK’s newest lounge, the TVs mounted behind the bar aren’t playing Blazers games — they’re playing video games. Retro Game Bar, the vintage-video-game cocktail bar in Northeast Portland, is finally opening its doors to the public May 16, with a limited menu of hot dogs, drinks named for ‘80s and ‘90s references, and upwards of 1,000 different games.
The bar isn’t kidding with its theme — the space is littered with various Toads, Yoshis, and consoles, from old-school SEGAs and Nintendo 64s to a borderline antique version of a virtual reality game. The bar itself is lined with controllers — hooked up to the TVs above the bartenders pouring Von Ebert beer and mixing cocktails with names like Ocarina of Thyme. Beyond the various couch-and-tv setups for gamers looking to relax over a game of Pac Man, tables along the windows come with green-and-orange chairs straight out of a 1985 middle school.
Co-owners Shira Yovu and Jason Yovu stocked the bar with games from their personal collection, which customers can play at various stations hooked up to vintage-looking tvs with better image quality. How the actual gaming will work is still under development — when the bar isn’t busy, it may be that customers can go up to the bar and order a game, the way someone would order a drink. When it gets busy, however, a sort of “game sommelier” will choose the games on the floor, where people can play. “Cartridges are akin to records — we want to protect them,” Shira Yovu says. Someone particularly attached to a game, however, may be able to buy it — the bar will sell games, and there may also be trading nights in the future. The bar will also have various themed nights, whether it’s Zelda-themed or Mario specific.
As for sustenance, the bar is staying nostalgic — the food menu sticks to a number of different hot dogs, with options of beef or vegan dogs and buns. From there, toppings range from a Reuben Dog with sauerkraut, Thousand Island, and Swiss, to hot dogs topped with spicy macaroni and cheese or pizza toppings. The restaurant also has a nod to our Northern neighbor, with a traditional Seattle Dog topped with cream cheese and caramelized onions.
The cocktails get creative with the names — the bar’s version of a Suffering Bastard is called the Combo Breaker, made with ginger beer, bourbon, gin, and lime. The previously mentioned Ocarina of Thyme pairs lemon thyme with lime juice and gin.
Retro Game Bar will be 21+ most of the time, though the restaurant will let in kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings for “Saturday Morning Cartoons” — for a small cover fee, guests can play and eat from an unlimited cereal bar, sticking to sugary favorites like Froot Loops. The bar will start welcoming those guests from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 25. Retro Game Bar is located at 6720 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Take a look at the food and drink menus below.
• Retro Game Bar [Official]
• Retro Game Bar [Facebook]
• Nostalgia-Happy Retro Game Bar Will Open This Spring on MLK [EPDX]
• Previous Retro Game Bar coverage [EPDX]