Photos by Annakate Dilks
Picture the Stranger Things arcade mixed with a more rustic version of the Prairie Village Johnny’s. This is what I thought of when my parents described the new restaurant in the Crossroads that has the same retro arcade games they had played when they were kids. So I made the 20-minute trip down to the Crossroads with four friends to see if my parents’ raving reviews were worth the drive.
My parents weren’t lying when they told me Tapcade would be fun — it took me back to my Chuck E. Cheese’s days without the scary mouse and screaming kids. My friends and I were able to turn a boring, rainy Saturday into an afternoon full of games from the past, like Donkey Kong and Tetris and good food, like their better than BRGR burgers, that were definitely worth the drive.
I knew I arrived when I stopped in front of the front wall, decorated with doodles of PAC-MAN and Mario Bros. My first impression — darkness. If I didn’t carry my phone with me at all times, I would have had no concept of time due to the lack of windows. But within the darkness were dozens of arcade games lining the walls and tables in the center of the room with the lingering scent of ketchup and fried food. A host showed us to a table covered with a checkered tablecloth — not exactly a dress and heels type of venue.
A server was quick to bring us menus, silverware and waters as well as a stamp showing we paid the reasonable $5 for unlimited game play. I was surprised to see a list of different kinds of burritos on the menu because of the apparent bar scene I saw in front of me. I decided on one of their most popular burritos according to our waitress: the California burrito — a steak, pico, avocado, jack cheese and chipotle ranch combination all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. But the most intriguing part? Stuffed with fries. For someone who usually sticks to the kids menu, this was pretty out-of-the-box for me, but I decided I’d give it a try for the sake of the server’s positive review.
When a red basket with red-checkered wax paper carrying a tinfoil-wrapped burrito arrived, I saw exactly what I didn’t want to see. I know a bad tortilla when I see one, thick and the only thing you can taste. I gave it a chance anyway, but I was right. Definitely not worthy of the “most popular” title. The insides weren’t much better — the jack cheese was overpowering and made the fries inside soggy, leaving me upset that I had put a dent into my short cash supply.
I knew I should’ve stuck to my classic order of chicken tenders and fries judging from my friends’ near-empty baskets. But they were nice enough to offer a charity chicken tender and — to my surprise — it was one of the best I’ve had. Its flaky, crumbly crust gave it the perfect crunch leading into the chicken and was nothing short of delicious. If not for my short cash supply, I would’ve ordered some for myself.
After topping off my mix-and-matched meal, I left to check out the Centipede game console that my mom had so badly wanted me to try. The goal of the game is to kill the centipede before it kills you. It seems simple but after losing a disappointing number of times, I decided to make the rounds.
My dad’s favorite, Galaga, was more my speed: a simple move around and shoot type of game. Leaning over the machine with my friends trying to get my initials on the leaderboard was a different type of thrill than passing a new level in Slices or beating a high score in 1010. I let out a squeal with each new level I was able to pass.
Post-Donkey Kong my stomach was longing for something a little more, and the deep fried Oreos sparked my curiosity. My mouth was watering when the basket carrying six deep fried balls topped with powdered sugar reached the center of our table. I was the first to pop one into my mouth and was able to give my friends the big thumbs up. The crispy outside met a fluffy inside, like a funnel cake with Oreo crumble on the inside. The perfect end to make up for the subpar burrito.
Though the burrito will not come close to my mouth again, the other menu options are perfect after a round of pinball and the variety of games gives little opportunity for boredom. My mom would be pleased to know I would definitely keep Tapcade on my list of things to do on a rainy day.