Imagine if you had the sort of work day that big cocktails and grease bomb comfort food cannot erase. TILT Pinball Bar has both, plus pinball.
Game bars have been opening up across the Twin Cities, from an artist-designed mini golf course with adult cereal milkshakes to a full service scratch kitchen with a vintage arcade.
An increasing number have put the games front and center. But very few of them have done it the way TILT does.
TILT is pinball first, a bar second, and if you do not care to play, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
But here’s the thing: You do want to play! You really do.
This arcade for adults (kids are welcome too, if accompanied by an adult before 9 p.m.) opens up into an ultra-cacophony the moment you step inside. Your eyes must adjust to the dim nightclub level lighting, with most of the illumination emanating from the machines. You already know what a pinball machine sounds like. But do you know what 22 of them sound like in all their simultaneous glory? Awesome, that’s what. It sounds awesome.
While it’s possible to use this place as a typical bar — with the affordable prices on beer, wine, and cocktails ($6 to $8), plus snacks and dogs in the $5 to $8 range — you’d be missing the point. It’s only when you acquiesce to the power of the game that the true value of TILT becomes clear.
There’s a zen satisfaction to sliding a shiny quarter into a little slot and sending that silver ball sailing up its habit trail. For five minutes (or longer if you don’t completely suck) you’re the master of your own 29-by-55-inch universe.
The owners of Nightingale, Jasha Johnston and Carrie Mccabe Johnston, are in charge of the food and the drinks. Their third partner, John Galvin, is the pinball curator. His role is important to the aesthetic of the place. He’s also the owner of D&G Pinball, a family business he grew up in, where he deals, maintains, and essentially lives and breathes pinball.
Galvin has hand-selected 22 machines, which will rotate periodically. Does the Adams Family by Bally mean anything to you? They got that. What about a Gottlieb Dancing Dolls produced in 1960, with only 1,150 produced in total? They have that too.
They also have all beef hot dogs from family farm Peterson Craft Meats, vegan dogs from the Herbivorous Butcher, family recipe potato salad that’s as good as a church potluck’s, and a bunch of chips and dips.
There’s a handful of well-selected beers on tap, including Sisyphus Double Danger Pale Ale brewed only for Tilt, plus many more beers in cans, actually drinkable wine priced affordably, and cocktails.
Also: shots. Because you need two hands to play pinball. All the games thoughtfully have drinks stands.
On Sunday mornings they plan to host a kid’s league.
This is the most sure-thing family outing in town, where everyone can be happy, with the games taking the pressure out of too much conversation with mom, or forcing kids to sit still. Plus a hot dog menu that takes the pressure out of dinner.
113 East 26th St., Minneapolis