I can’t remember the last time I broke a sweat while at a bar. Unlike other Texas cities from Austin to Ft. Worth, which have embraced the concept of “arcade bars,” which marries boozin’ with classic arcade games, SA has been slower to take. Until now that is.
Slackers, the brainchild of partners Mike Salinas and Wallace Harding, takes the efficiency of a speed bar, the laidback vibe of a sports bar and the playfulness of video games and somehow makes it work. My first visit was on a Tuesday, a slow night for the bar, which allowed me to take in the layout.
Slackers makes excellent use of its space, which previously housed Blu nightclub.
The first room lays on the sports bar pretty thick with close to a dozen large LCD screens and several dozen paintings and posters of current Spurs (retired jerseys hang above the bar), Cowboys and Oilers, but games are featured throughout. There’s the new electronic shuffleboard, a pinball machine and darts along with two tables of beer pong. The tables are free to use, and use water instead of beer, which makes sense considering the ping-pong balls roll along most of the bar floor during every match. Ew.
The entertainment finds its way onto the walls as one projector blows up Spurs games along one bare wall, while another projects a Wii menu. Patrons can borrow Wii-motes from the bar as long as they leave their IDs as collateral.
The backroom holds more games–an obligatory pool table, a set of giant Jack Daniel’s Jenga, an air hockey table and a couple Shoot to Win basketball games. Oh, and the impossibly difficult Bimini Ring game—my group and I spent almost 20 minutes trying to get the ring on the hook. It’s almost too easy to lose yourself in the allure of the boops and the beeps—but you power through to get to the loft level where Slackers keeps most of its classic arcade games including, but not limited to, Mortal Kombat II, The Simpsons, Tekken Tag, Megaman, Ms. Pac-Man, skee-ball, or in this case “beer ball,” and NFL Blitz. Short end tables are sprinkled throughout the bar to keep your drink of choice safe.
My only quibble with game play (which is free all day on Sundays, by the way) is that there isn’t any semblance of a code of conduct anywhere at Slackers. This means some douche asshole with a grill can just barge into Area 51 while you’re waiting for your friend to get more change. Rude. The second floor bar opens on weekends and busy nights and features a couple dozen varieties of bottled beers including Bud Light, Miller Lite, Shiner Bock, Dos Equis, Lindemans Framboise, Sam Adams and Corona.
Back at the main bar you’ll find a collection of drafts including Bud Light, Dos Equis and Lone Star. Get there early and enjoy happy hour pricing: $3 wells and $2.50 domestic bottles from 3-9 p.m. I’m a sucker for ICEEs and Slackers sealed the deal as my latest go-to bar with frozen adult beverages like Jack and Coke and hard lemonade, sipped out of Ball mason jars. (I suppose they’re trying to bring in Pinterest-addicted female customers?) At $6 a pop, they’re a bit on the high-end of the spectrum, but they usually last several games of air hockey (which, lets face it, can often require some thirst quenching).
It’s Salinas’ and Harding’s attention to detail that really makes this place work. What could come off as crowded and tacky is instead a curated space that houses both their goals seamlessly, creating a way-less-sucky version of Dave & Busters.
While it does resemble a man cave, Slackers isn’t just for dudes. There were plenty of chicas there on a recent Saturday night, but don’t blame me if you stumble into the bar and find a total bro party. If anything, it might be a great spot for first dates where you can gauge any would-be lover’s sore loser tendencies. As the wall above the beer pong tables clearly points out, “Winners don’t wait for chances, they take them.”
126 W Rector, Ste 136