Ready to relive those childhood memories of shopping mall arcades and Chuck E. Cheese’s birthday parties? Head to The Racket Bar & Pinball Lounge in Downtown Bellingham, where you’ll find dozens of pinball machines waiting to test your skills and eat your quarters. The best part is, you can first grab a beer, a cider or a cocktail at the bar to sharpen your reflexes (not a scientific fact; you’ll have to trust me on this).
The Racket is located adjacent to the Shakedown, and a door between gives you access to both spaces. This proves to be very convenient when your friends are enjoying the music at the Shakedown, but you’re ready for a break—and some pinball (or coloring, as the case may be).
Our group stopped in right after work Friday to kick off our weekend. Before heading upstairs to the pinball machines, we hydrated with some beers and ciders. Pint glasses were filled with a variety from the on-tap selections, including Kulshan Bastard Kat IPA, Chuckanut Pilsner, Anthem Cider and a delicious B-Side Organic Peach IPA, a collaboration brew from New Belgium and Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB). The Racket always has three ciders on tap, including a rotating selection. And they offer rotating IPA, wheat and nitro brews, too.
We did order one cocktail: a Slappucino, which is a caffeinated concoction made with house-infused coffee whiskey, coffee liqueur and coconut milk, served over ice. It was lovely. The cocktail menu features plenty of house-infused liquor-based drinks with a warming theme of pumpkin spice, chai, ginger and tamarind. House infusions include beet, orange and smoked salmon vodka; peanut and spiced apple bourbon; grapefruit/celery and yerba mate gin; and pineapple, cinnamon and habanero tequila. The Racket also offers a nice assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, from ginger beer to kombucha and N.A. beer.
Of course, the beer needed some food for balance, so we ordered from The Racket’s menu: cheesesteaks on one side, falafels on the other. Plus some fried items, because it was Friday. Everything was yum.
Then we headed upstairs to play. There’s a handy change machine that ate our bills and gave us quarters. I remember when one was enough for a game, but obviously those days are gone, and most of the machines took two or three. Still a small price to play for what could be several minutes of fun, if you’re good. (I was not.)
We all had a great time and will be back. The bar has a relaxed vibe that would make for a nice outing whether or not you’re in the mood to play pinball. Go hang out at The Racket and see if your inner Pinball Wizard lives. Also, eat the onion rings and Tater Tots.
The Racket Bar & Pinball Lounge, 1220 N. State St., Bellingham WA 98225
The Racket on Facebook