The distinction between dinner and entertainment is blurred. Long gone are the days of nachos in the bad bowling alley and stale popcorn in the movie theater as only edible options when you’re in town. Now, you can grab a full meal between frames and dive into a pizza or salad as the opening credits roll.
Entertainment-focused bars and restaurants have a long history in D-FW. Dave & Buster’s opened its first Dallas location in 1982. Topgolf, a high-tech car group, restaurant and bar, was founded in the UK but settled in Dallas in 2007 and now operates additional locations in Fort Worth, Allen and the Colony.
Pinstack, which combines a full-service restaurant and bar with a bowling alley, laser tag arena, rock climbing wall and ropes course, opened its first venue in Plano in 2015 and now operates other venues in Las Colinas and Allen. Punch Bowl Social—a concept that combines a bar and restaurant with bowling, karaoke rooms, table tennis, darts, and arcade games—started in Denver, and opened in Deep Ellum in 2019 and now has more than a dozen locations across the country.
With a track record of success, Dallas now welcomes a large number of other “dining and entertainment” destinations into the city, with concepts including shuffleboard, pickleball, football, golf and video games.
“From day one, we knew Dallas was where we wanted to launch the brand before expanding further into the US,” says Jane Paul, CEO of Electric Shuffle US, a high-tech Shuffleboard concept from London that features custom-designed tables. Intended for group play. He describes Dallas as the incubator of social entertainment in the country.
“For Deep Elum, there is so much history, character, and a rich soul; it’s the perfect place to call home,” he says of the site, which opened in late 2021.
TOCA Social is another London export that is betting big on Dallas. It retrofits the Design District warehouse into a 56,000-square-foot, three-story space with a full-service restaurant, multiple bars, and 34 soccer boxes featuring artificial turf and interactive screens. The company is on track to open in 2023.
“There is no better place for TOCA Social,” says Zach Shore, senior vice president of TOCA Social US. The brand is a believer in Dallas, he says, noting that the city has become an important entertainment and technology hub and has a great demographic, with people who like to get out and try new things.
Originally from Kansas City, Chicken N Pickle takes advantage of pickle ball – America’s fastest growing sport – with a 4-acre complex in Grand Prairie and another soon-to-open location in Grapevine. The Grand Prairie’s outpost includes 11 pickle courts, several bars, a restaurant, and other games like corn pit and table tennis. General Manager Chris Boone says that the game of basketball attracts a diverse audience, with players ranging in age from 9 to 90. New players can take part in ‘Beginner’s Nights’ or take lessons with professional baseball players.
Sponsors who want to pair food and drinks with video games now have more options, in addition to Barcadia and Bishop Cidercade. Farm + Feed opened in early 2022, bringing the latest video game consoles, PCs, and board games to The Shops at Legacy in Plano. There’s also FlashBack RetroPub, an old arcade bar that started in Oklahoma City in 2015 and expanded to Davis Street outside the Bishop Arts District in January.
Max Seel, owner of Farm + Feed, says he was inspired to create a space where gamers and geeks can enjoy themselves in an inclusive environment. “I grew up playing video games and scaling and developing late at night, and I always had a lot of food and drinks. It was a great way to meet people and make friends, but as everything became virtual this ability to socialize in person has faded.”
It was important to him to give players a place to gather and socialize. “We think games are more fun when you enjoy them together,” he says.
These are six new or upcoming gaming and entertainment destinations to check out in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The century-old Deep Ellum building houses the Electric Shuffle, with two good-looking bars, 17 shuffleboard tables, and private event spaces. These tables were custom designed and feature interactive gameplay that can seat up to 24 people at once, keeping score so you don’t have to. Menu items include pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and bowls. 2615 Flag Street, Dallas.
Chicken and pickles
The 4-acre complex includes six indoor buggy courts and five outdoor ones, plus a full restaurant, four bars, patio games like a corn pit, and rooftop space. Beer, wine, and cocktails are served alongside fried chicken, roast chicken, salads, scrambled eggs, and chorizo fondue. 2965 S. State Highway 161, Grand Prairie; 4600 Merlot Ave., Grapevine (coming soon).
This high-end mini golf course at The Colony has been open since summer 2021 and features four nine-hole courses, each with a different theme and auto-scoring. The restaurant puts out charcuterie boards, crock pots, sliders and several pizzas. Another round follows is The Puttery, a miniature golf concept that opened in West Dallas in 2020. 5762 Grand Scape Street, Suite 105, The Colony.
farm + fodder
Designed with a post-apocalyptic theme, Farm + Feed has furnished an 8,000 square foot interior with dedicated sections for game consoles, computer games, and analog board games. Sofas and big TVs are scattered all over the place, and there is a patio. The menu offers beers, themed cocktails, and game-friendly food, such as pizza rolls, sliders, and grilled lettuce wraps. 7401 Lone Star Drive, B120, Plano.
Flashback retro pub
Go back in time with over 60 arcade games from the ’80s and ’90s, as well as old school consoles like the NES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64. The bar serves dozens of craft beers, and while there’s no food, you can bring them eat out from Neony Pizza Works Neighboring. 821 W Davis Street
Scheduled to open in 2023, Toca Social’s first US location will house a three-story building in the design district with skyline views. Participants can play various soccer games in boxes covered with grass, and kick the ball on an interactive screen to score points. Food and drinks inspired from around the world are served across a full kitchen and four bars, including a dessert bar. Coming in 2023 to the design area.