the interior at parlor photo by david kovaluk

Review: Parlor in The Grove

With respectable cocktails, an edgy hipster vibe and more than a dozen arcade games, Parlor in The Grove is the place to go if you want a night out that involves more than staring at your friends across a table.

The large space is ringed by all the nostalgia-inducing arcade games you could want – including pinball, racing games, Pac-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tapper, a hilariously retro 1980s Budweiser-branded game that has players service a busy bar. To keep things fresh, Parlor occasionally changes up what’s offered. A coin machine is conveniently located on-site, making it easy to acquire quarters. You’ll need a lot – it doesn’t take long to burn through $10.

order the parlor daiquiri // photo by david kovaluk

Parlor’s decor tones down the loud neon of the arcade games with the help of exposed brick and a black, gray and white color palette. Taxidermied animals add to the eclectic air. The space was clearly designed for mingling with limited seating and communal tables. The result is a loud, fun bar that’s also sophisticated and cool. On weekends (and occasionally during the week) the party atmosphere is pumped up with a DJ spinning tunes.

The games are the point at Parlor, but the booze is far from an afterthought. Heavily tattooed bartenders serve drinks, including a small list of New Orleans-inspired specialty concoctions dreamed up by Casey Colgan, who previously tended bar at Atomic Cowboy and Handlebar.

the gin bucket, made with lime vess, vanilla, sweet vermouth, bitters and gin, is meant for sharing // photo by david kovaluk

The daiquiri is a straight-up classic made with rum, lime juice and simple syrup. No sugary slush here. La Louisiane is another classic done well – a boozy mixture of High West Double Rye, Benedictine herbal liqueur, sweet vermouth and bitters. For groups of four, Parlor offers a Gin Bucket served in a large silver trophy. With lime Vess, vanilla, sweet vermouth, bitters and, of course, gin, it’s sweet and sour with an herbal undertone. A few of the cocktails were a touch too sweet, but otherwise solid. Eight beers are on draft with more available in cans. Canned wine is also available.

Out back is a large patio with picnic tables, bold hand-painted murals and string lights. Can you even call it a bar these days without string lights? It’s also the permanent parking spot of the Nug Shack, a food truck run by Byrd & Barrel. The truck serves up a handful of chicken sandwiches (cauliflower is available as a swap on one item), as well as Byrd & Barrel’s much-loved Nugz. On one visit, the Nug Shack was already out of a few items by 9 p.m., so late-night noshers may have limited options.

from top, nugz and the garlic naan taco // photo by david kovaluk

As with many food trucks, service was a little slow but worth the wait. The garlic naan taco, which folds chicken tikka masala, pickled red cabbage, bean sprouts, herbs and basil creme into a soft naan, isn’t shy with the curry. Dripping with tikka masala sauce, it’s messy to eat but perfect for a late-night Indian craving. Also notable was the Ole’ Smokey, which sandwiches smoked barbecue chicken, cheese, ranch slaw and Flamin’ Hot Funyuns on a pretzel bun.

Parlor calls itself a neighborhood bar and – games aside – that’s exactly what it is, given the mix of hipster millennials, young professionals, couples on dates and groups of friends you’ll find there. The best part: Each game has a wire drink rack, so you never have to choose between enjoying a cocktail and showing off your skee-ball chops.

Stephanie Zeilenga is a critic for Sauce Magazine.