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Erik Holzherr's Atlas Arcade Opens on H Street

Retro games, good beer and fun snacks
Erik Holzherr's Atlas Arcade Opens on H Street

While there are plenty of fun and unique concepts on H street, there’s something that has been missing — an ‘80s-themed arcade bar. Erik Holzherr is on it. D.C.’s resident Gintender — who is also behind cocktail bars Wisdom in SE and H street’s Church & State — is making a marked turn from his mixology roots in opening this new beer- and game-focused new venture.

Atlas Arcade is located below Church & State in the space where FruitBat once was, and it’s an exciting revamp. Like many H street locales, it’s an intimate space, but the size makes it feel even more like a classic arcade, circa 1983. Games on offer include a pool table, foosball, darts, Sega and Atari consuls on the bar, one of those giant claw/stuffed animal machines and most importantly, several vintage video games including Erik’s personal favorite; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

As far as liquor goes, the basics are covered, and just over 20 beers make the list, including DC Brau, Abita Purple Haze and Lost Rhino Pale Ale ($5-$7). For snacks while you play, choose from Pop-Tarts (two for $3) or a small box of deliciously sugary cereal ($1.50).

A soundtrack of “mostly ‘80s” music keeps things in the mood — Holzherr’s rule is “1994 or before,” the year music died with the death of Kurt Cobain, he says.

We had to ask Holzherr — who is, in his own words, “a cocktail aficionado” and a “creative chef for drinkers” — what made him change gears and open an arcade?

“There’s a huge nostalgia for the ‘80s and that’s what I wanted to tap into. Everybody seems to have a soft spot for that time period, yet I don't think it has been exploited in D.C. I felt the arcade concept was niche yet would have wide appeal, be fun and perfect for H Street. I came up with the idea the same way as I come up with all my concepts... drinking good gin.”

We certainly feel he pulled it off. He claims it may be “the nerdiest bar in the history of DC,” but these days, it’s hip to be square. Atlas Arcade is open 6 PM–midnight, Monday–Friday and 6 PM–2 AM, Saturday–Sunday. Sunday features a noon–4 PM neighborhood appreciation happy hour with free Pop-Tarts for all.

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