Raleigh, N.C. — When I heard Level-Up Kitchen and Barcadium started lunch service, I knew I needed to take an extra-long break and check it out.
The Location: Located near the corner of Salisbury and Hargett streets, the arcade offers a pretty good menu for an arcade/bar - proving the venue isn't just defined by the classic arcade games the line the walls. At first, I wasn't even sure if the place was open. It looked dark inside, but then I noticed the arrow on the outside of the door directing visitors to the barcade and kitchen to head upstairs to the second floor.
Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Tetris, NBA Jam and House of the Dead and other classic arcade games line the walls. There are a few pinball options including AC/DC and Lord of the Rings. (Super Mario Brothers, Mortal Komat 2 and Track and Field arcade games are coming soon.)
You can either dine at the bar or at high-top tables throughout the second floor.
The Meal: There are munchies (small plates), salads, sliders and tacos. We opted for the Loaded Tater Tots, which were topped with crumbled bacon. We were given three sauces to enjoy - espresso BBQ, spicy beer mustard and ketchup. I loved the beer mustard and the espresso BBQ.
For lunch, I ordered the mix-and-match tacos ($12) because I wanted to try three different options. The fried chicken, which is topped with chipotle mayo and three-onion ceviche, was my favorite! Crunchy and spicy, the flavors were spot on. The Ahi Tuna taco was also good. I liked the pineapple serrano topping with the salsa verde.
My friend ordered the barbecue chicken sliders. (Three for $12.) The avocado really helped cool off the honey chipotle sauce. These sandwiches were so large they barely qualified as sliders.
We were working, so we didn't have time to grab a drink or dessert. The beer menu had a few local offerings - Big Boss, Mother Earth, Natty Green's, Deep River, Foothills and Lonerider. The dessert menu was small but the two items - Belgian Truffles and Three Milk Cake - sounded good.
I will have to go back to complete this review!
We used our extra time before heading back to work to play Ms. Pac-Man. (Make sure to bring quarters.)
The Final Bill: The bill was about $30. Not too bad when you consider how much food and the quality of food we received. Definitely much better quality cuisine than you would expect from a typical bar with arcade games.
The Verdict: Come for the games and beer and be surprised by the great food! Bring quarters so you can challenge me to Ms. Pac-Man and leave room for dessert!
Level-Up is open Mondays 5 p.m. - 2 a.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.