Location: 15201 S. IH 35 Frontage Rd., Buda, TX 78610, USA
Prior to the 2015 Texas Pinball Festival we took a road trip to southern Texas to visit the Lone Star Pinball Museum and the new second location for the people behind the Pinballz Arcade is Austin - Pinballz Kingdom in Buda, Texas.
The quiet feeder road for the I-35 highway might be a natural place to fill up the car's tank or find a place to rest for the night, but it's also home to a great combination of quality pinball, arcade games, craft beers and snack food.
When we visited, Pinballz Kingdom had only recently opened at the former truck stop site. There was some construction work still going on but the main building was complete and open to the public.
The main entrance was through a stone arch with an impressive dragon topper.
As you enter the main building on the left, you come straight into the arcade games section with the big set-piece games up front.
Curiously, two of those main video game attractions had pinball connections.
To the right is Mikki's Tavern, while to the left are more arcade games and the pinball section.
All arcade game genres are catered for here, with drivers, air hockey, skee-ball, dance machines, and classic videos.
But 'pinball' in both the name of the game and the name of the place, so naturally there is an impressive range of flipper games, starting with the largest production pinball, Hercules.
Behind Hercules are four rows of top-quality games.
The pinballs were in very good condition and the whole area was brightly lit to really show off the nice clean playfields.
You may have noticed how each machine features either a PinGulp cup holder on one of the legs, or a separate adjacent cup holder on a stand to make sure you're never far from refreshments.
Nearly all the games also feature a swipe card reader next to the coin door. Pinballz Kingdom operates a cashless policy for their games, so you can buy a play card and add more credits at a card machine.
However, many machines also (or only) take tokens as payment, so you can change cash and card credits for tokens if you prefer.
No family entertainment centre would be complete without the opportunity to win (physical or virtual) armfuls of tickets which can be exchanged for either top brand merchandise or cheap junk at the redemption centre.
If you turn right at the entrance rather than head towards the arcade games, you come to Mikki's Tavern.
Mikki's Tavern is largely taken up by diner-style tables and seating, but also has a full bar with additional seating.
The food is mostly short-order fare, such as sandwiches, burgers and pizzas, with some salads and appetisers for good measure.
The beer selection is a strong point, with twenty draught beers or ciders available. They have put together a nice balance of the bland international brands some customers prefer and more interesting craft brews.
Southern Texas is usually guaranteed plenty of warm weather and bright sunshine, so there is a large beer garden outside where you can enjoy your food and/or beverages al fresco.
Not surprisingly there are also some games you can play while enjoying the fresh air.
It is outside where all the redevelopment work was taking place. During our visit they were constructing a go-kart track and enhancing the live music stage. By the time you read this they should have completed that work.
Pinballz Kingdom is open all year round with the arcade and bar open until midnight every night, and until 1am on Saturday nights. If things get too much there's an America's Best Value Inn right next door.
They have regular party and promotional nights, so check their website for details of these events and more information about the business.
© Pinball News 2015