Fishtown is fun. It’s drinking-a-local-beer-while-watching-a-local-band fun. It’s ping-pong-in-a-beer-garden fun. It’s 25-cent-video-games fun.
So it makes perfect sense that Barcade would open in the neighborhood. This outpost of the Brooklyn-based bar offers a combination—vintage 1980s arcade games, plus American craft beer—that’s like free weed and doughnuts to a certain segment of the 20-and-30-something populace. The lure is basically undeniable.
Going after the same crowd, Loco Pez has morphed a sad corner bar into a vibrant hangout that’s turning out authentic Mexican tacos and a surprisingly robust cocktails list. Chill out and absorb the eclectic Mexican-themed decor and Pez dispenser collection, or head to the back corner for some Family Guy pinball.
All of this almost makes a place like Interstate Drafthouse seem dull by comparison. Opening a Fishtown joint that’s only known for good food and a 16-tap craft beer selection? Where are the mimes, retro board games, Star Wars figure collages and lucha libre masks?
Still, it isn’t like Fishtown is completely without a solid history on which this hipster boom-splosion has been building. Johnny Brenda’s has been hosting live music for more than five years, and it’s still the place to see local bands. Plus, the chalkboard menu always features spot-on bar snacks and entrées. And Kraftwork is making bank on the whole let’s-be-a-gastropub-without-calling-ourselves-a-gastropub thing, luring in ‘hoodees and interlopers alike with promises of craft beers, then surprising them with an addictive beer-can chicken sandwich that snags in the memory like a burr.
The future of Fishtown restaurants: More growth and, tragically, legitimacy. It’s hard to keep the whole DIY, up-from-the-waterfront act going when a dude like Stephen Starr double-jumps the fad-wagon by not just opening smack in the middle of the Fishtown boom, but opening a beer garden, which was just the apex of cool last summer. Neighbors were rightly worried over what Frankford Hall would mean for the area, but at least for the moment—with its ping-pong tables and liter mugs of Teutonic barley pop—it seems to be fitting in just fine.