After attending the Arcade Expo show in Banning, California, we spent a night in downtown Los Angeles before flying over to Dallas for the Texas Pinball Festival.
We picked an affordable hotel on Sunset Boulevard and after checking in, went out to explore the area. As we walked up Sunset, we stumbled across a brightly-lit business called Button Mash.
The name rang a few bells, and sure enough we could see some pinball machines through the front window, as you can see below.
It was time to investigate.
At first, Button Mash was a confusing proposition. In the windows facing the street we could see people eating at tables, so was this a restaurant?
We tried to get in to find out, but the entrance seemed to be through a store next door called Pwnshop.
There is another entrance on the opposite side, but from the street it’s not clearly marked. Anyway, we eventually got in and found a mix between a bar/arcade (colloquially known as a ‘barcade’, even though the people who own the Barcade trademark get upset when we use that generic term) and a restaurant.
Most ‘barcades’ focus on the games and the beer, with food almost an afterthought. Button Mash dedicates roughly the same space to dining tables as it does to games, with most of the gaming space given to videos.
To the left of the video area is the bar. This isn’t the typical sports bar design, and only has a few seats available if you’re taking a break between games.
They have a reasonable craft beer selection, with twelve taps featuring an eclectic mix of styles, including one cider.
On the other side of the bar is the pinball area. This contains eleven games, ranging from 1987’s Arena to 2019’s The Munsters.
The pinballs are split into two banks of seven and four with the newest, most popular titles nearest the window.
The full list of machines available on this visit was:
- Arena (Premier, 1987)
- Banzai Run (Williams, 1988)
- Deadpool (Stern, 2018)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Stern, 2017)
- Indiana Jones (Williams, 1993)
- Iron Maiden (Stern, 2018)
- The Munsters (Stern, 2019)
- Star Trek – The Next Generation (Williams, 1993)
- Star Wars (Stern, 2017)
- Total Nuclear Annihilation (Spooky, 2018)
- Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)
All the pinballs and video games use 25c tokens which are available from a token machine in the video game area, or in $5 packs from the bar. If you have a tab running at the bar they can add the cost of the token packs to your tab to avoid having to use any cash at all.
On a busy Sunday night we only got to play two games – Total Nuclear Annihilation and Banzai Run – and both were in good condition, at least until we experienced an issue with TNA which the game couldn’t resolve by itself and which prevented any further play. A power cycle seemed to make the game operable again.
Button Mash seemed like a friendly, fun location to visit. There were quite a few young kids running around in the video game area, but everyone in the pinball section was well-behaved. It was also encouraging to see the number of women playing the games – something we saw quite a lot in California.
One final nice touch; when it came time to pay for our drinks, rather than using some generic plastic wallet, the bill was presented in a paperback book which served as a reminded how book cover art has improved since the ’80s.
Button Mash is open six days a week – closed on Mondays – from 4pm (weekends) or 5pm, until midnight or 2am (Friday & Saturday). Their website contains details of the games available, as well as the food and drinks menus.