The resurrection of Screenland Crossroads isn’t a comeback of the old movie theater on the West Side. It’s a full-on remake in the east Crossroads.
The theater is no longer the star. It’s the “Tapcade,” a mix of about 30 retro arcade games and a bar featuring 48 craft beers (Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale!) on tap and Dark Horse Distillery cocktails inspired by movies (The Dude: white whiskey, Kahlua, half and half). The bar, dining room and patio seat more than 100.
It opened last weekend in The Star’s former circulation building, and it’s a little bit industrial with concrete floors, brick walls and exposed pipes. But it’s 100 percent geek chic. This is for my movie buffs, my comic book fanatics, my all-night gamers. Someone like me, who rocks Luigi T-shirts and Sailor Moon buttons, fits right in here. After all, Super Mario’s Boo and a Harry Potter Platform 93/4 poster grace the walls, and images of gamer favorites are plastered on the bar alongside the arcade.
Through March 6, the games are free (they will cost you a quarter or two after). They have all of the classics: Centipede and Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, plus NBA Jam and pretty much all versions of Pac-Man. So I glued myself to Ms. Pac-Man and tried my best to eat every last pellet and ghost. For 15 minutes, anyway.
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The theater is tucked away through double doors to the right of the bar. It’s one-screen, dine-in, with super cushy office chairs for 60 (seriously, it’s plush enough for a film critic’s class or maybe “Inside the Actor’s Studio”). Shout out to the picture of Sloth from “The Goonies” for making me smile as I walked up the theater stairs. It’s one of many custom pieces made by Atomic Cotton’s Erica Kauffman.
Right now the theater is showing Australian zombie flick “Wyrmwood,” plus “Blade Runner” this weekend. Tickets are $10. But I’ve been twice already and I’m obsessed with the Tapcade. This is a coven of Comicon goers and grown-up gamers.
Menus are wrapped in comics like “Punisher vs. Bullseye.” Everything is inviting to gamer culture. And can we talk about the food? Look, they have grilled Asian tofu and a veggie burrito, but let me be honest: This is junk-food heaven in all of the very best ways. As a ’90s teen who spent many Friday nights glued to Super Nintendo and eating copious amounts of fried rice and Doritos while drinking down a Slurpee, I love my sweet and salty.
I am almost willing to forgive operators Adam Roberts and Brent Miller for not bringing along the fried green beans from the amazing menu at their Screenland Armour in the Northland. Instead, we get things like Buffalo chicken rangoon ($8) and a plate of chocolate chip cookies ($3). Listen, you want these cookies. They are baked fresh to order, you get five and if you factor in something like an Odell Lugene Nitro Chocolate Milk Stout, you are winning.
This place has an entire menu of burritos — with french fries inside. The KC ($10), an early crowd favorite, is stuffed with Slap’s BBQ brisket, garlic coleslaw, pickles, white cheddar cheese and fries. It’s the kind of thing I would normally stay away from, because it sounds like a mess. But after a few customers raved about it, I had to give it a go: Delicious. It is so entirely delectable and surprisingly easy to eat, but it’s still not as great as the KC Poutine ($9). Fries loaded with melted Shatto cheese curds and pulled pork slathered in Slap’s BBQ sauce? Thank you. I didn’t want to share it.
Another great thing about the dining room is you can catch TV favorites like “Mad Men” and “Better Call Saul” on the two 9-foot screens above the bar.
On Sunday night I joined the crowd for the newest episode of “The Walking Dead.” It’s so much more exciting to cheer on Rick, Michonne and the gang (a toast to newbies Eric and Aaron) when you’re in a bar full of fellow fans. Once they got the lighting right, it was a whole lot of fun. Fangirls and guys, Screenland Crossroads loves you, baby.
Screenland Crossroads, 1701 McGee St., is currently open 4 to 10 p.m. daily. Starting March 6, it will serve lunch and be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to Screenland.com/Crossroads.