Up-Down Arcade and Bar – Des Moines, IA

0 Up Down

Back in July, I had the chance to visit the Up-Down arcade and bar located in the East Village section of downtown Des Moines. Unforunately, I forgot to charge my phone before going and was only able to get 2 pictures before it died completely. I vowed to return and fully document the arcade and bar for the millions of readers of this blog. My recent visit to the 8 Bit Beercade in Peoria, IL got me in the mood to play more “classic” arcade games and I knew this place had them. I grabbed a few tokens left over from my previous visit and headed to 500 E Locust yesterday afternoon.

Up-Down is below ground and on my first visit in July, I probably walked by it 3 times before discovering the entrance. It has a more traditional arcade feel to it than the 8 Bit Beercade as it is essentially two rooms. The main room has the bar and a long wall with a bunch of games on it. There are a few more games scattered around this room. The second room is behind the bar and is what I refer to as the pinball room. It has a nice selection of pinball machines in the center of the room and more games along the walls. There are two large TV’s (probably 65″), one in the main room and another in the pinball room. The TV in the main room had a Nintendo 64 attached and Mario Kart seemed to be a popular choice for players. I didn’t look closely to what was attached in the pinball room but noticed that classic NES games were being played so I assume it had a NES attached to it.

Now, let’s talk about the bar. Up-Down has an amazing selection of craft beers with over 20 on tap. I tried to take note of the selections without looking like a freak so I may have forgotten one or two: Ace Pineapple Cider, Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm, Bell’s Expedition Stout 2016, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Blue Moon Belgian Style Wheat, Boone Valley Roxie Irish Red, Boulevard Tank 7, Confluence Des Moines, Exile Hannah, Exile Peach Berry Bohemain, Firetrucker Burnout Brown, Founders Rubaeus Nitro, Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, Lion Bridge Workman’s Compensation, Madhouse Honey Pilsner, New Belgium Citradelic, Odell Hand Picked IPA, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, Peace Tree Blonde Fatale, Rasberry Lemonade (half Rubaeus Nitro, half Stiegl Radler), Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, Stiegl Radler Grapefruit, Stone Enjoy Tangerine, Surly Furious Black, Surly Todd The Axe Man, Sutliff Cider and Twisted Vine Tsunami Porter. Yes, those are all ON TAP! There are another 30 or so selections available in can or bottle form including traditional beers like Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light and a number of craft beers and ciders. On this visit I stuck with the hip Miller Lite but on my previous visit in July, I had a couple of pints of Sutliff Cider which was quite tasty! There is a nice LCD showing all the draft beer selections with a description of each one. You can get a list of all the beer selections on Up-Down’s website. I cheated and forgot more than one or two. The list above is straight from their website 🙂

What makes a bar that also functions as an arcade successful in my opinion is the games. There has to be a balance of classic games from the early 80’s and a nice selection of games from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Up-Down has balanced their game selection perfectly. Unlike the 8 Bit Beercade, the games here are not set on free play. It will cost you a token to play each game. Fortunately, everything only costs one token, including the modern pinball machines. As a bonus, between 2 pm and 9 pm on Saturday’s you get 2 tokens for the price of 1. So instead of 4 tokens for a buck, I got 8! Here’s a shot of the entrance and the classic games on the long wall in the bar room:

A great selection of games including: Marios Brothers, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Fix-It Felix Jr., Centipede, Defender, Tron, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man, Frogger, Track & Field, Strikers 1945, Rampage, Burgertime, Dig Dug and Galaga. There is a post in the main room which they have tastefully surrounded with games that allow 2 to 4 players:

NBA Jam Tournament Edition, NFL Blitz, 4 player Pac-Man Battle Royale, The Simpsons, Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battletoads. Rounding out the main room is an Altered Beast machine, 3 skeeball machines and a giant version of Connect 4. You can count Galaxian too if the shell of a cabinet used for ordering by the bartender counts:

The pinball room has a nice selection of games including a Neo-Geo machine (not sure what cartridge it had), Killer Instinct, Ultimate Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom, Champion Street Fighter II, Crazy Taxi, Lucky & Wild, Ivan Stewart’s Off Road, Zombie Raid, Revolution, The Maze of the Kings, The House of the Dead, Play Choice 10 and X-Men.

Obviously, the highlight of the pinball room has to be the pinball machines. Up-Down has a nice selection of 8 machines and must rotate them fairly often. I can’t say they are all different, but most of the pinball machines were different from my visit in July. The selection this time included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, No Good Gofers, Spider-Man, The Walking Dead, Iron Man, Addam’s Family and Whirlwind. If I were wealthy, I would go out and purchase a Ghostbusters pinball today. It was awesome!

Also pictured above is the front and back side of an Up-Down token. I’ve got a few left and am already planning my next visit. My daughter will be visiting over her fall break and since the rest of the kids are too young to go with me (21 and over only) she’s going whether she wants to or not. I had a blast and highly recommend that when you visit Des Moines (because who wouldn’t want to visit Des Moines) you hit up the Up-Down bar and arcade. A great selection of games and a great selection of beers! As a bonus, when you’re done, stop next door at Tacopocalypse and get some bacon chorizo tacos!

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