I celebrated my 13th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.
A lot of folks ridiculed me and my fellow adolescents for partying with babies (and possibly snakes) in a ball pit, but I had a great time.
Memories of that day came flooding back when I visited the new Shorty’s Pins x Pints on the North Shore.
Although there were no anthropomorphic rodents on site (just wait until the Furries arrive this summer!), the place was packed with adults enjoying 10,000 square feet of “retro-tainment.”
After checking our grownup responsibilities at the door, my friends and I entered a wonderland of classic arcade games, foosball, duckpin bowling, pinball and shuffleboard.
We had our picture snapped in a vintage photo booth that’s been modernized to upload images directly to Instagram.
The outdoor area boasts fire pits, bocce courts, corn hole boards and a giant Jenga game. It’s basically a corporate team-building paradise.
Just because you’re a middle-aged office worker doesn’t mean you have to give up your childhood pastimes. Shorty’s encourages customers to act their shoe size, not their age. (They do serve booze though, so try to be mature when imbibing.)
There are two full-service bars with a rotating selection of 32 draft beers (I hope to see more local liquids on tap), along with cocktails and non-alcoholic concoctions dubbed Free Spirits. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
Since I was already riding the nostalgia train, I ordered an Old German, one of my go-to college budget brews. Lagers are making a comeback and Pittsburgh Brewing Company is opening a massive production facility, so a new generation of drinkers is discovering this beverage and its adorable mascot, Herman.
Of course, when you’re sipping an Old German you need some Mexican eats to accompany it. The riverfront restaurant has a shipping container-turned-old-school concession stand. I ordered Cola Pork Carnitas Tacos made with braised cocoa- and spice-rubbed pork shoulder, cilantro, pickled red onion, cotija and adobo crema.
My pals, Jen and Ben, ordered A Pizza Boxa Nachos, a pizza box stuffed with house-fried tortilla chips, queso blanco, pico de gallo, pickled red onion, tomatillo salsa, borracho beans and creama. It’s the perfect container for this type of grub because the toppings are evenly distributed across all the nachos, not piled high on a chosen few that everybody at the table fights over.
Unlike the arcades and birthday centers of my youth, Shorty’s is a cashless operation, so you don’t have to walk around with pockets full of change.
Retro-tainment is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Head to the cage at the front of the facility to see what’s available. There’s also a kiosk that allows you to load money onto a Shorty’s card via a credit or debit card.
Sadly, there’s no prize counter, so bring your own plastic spider rings and jelly bracelets if you want to accessorize your stroll down memory lane.
If you aren’t a fan of the North Shore (which can get a little crazy when there’s an event at Heinz Field or PNC Park), Shorty’s Tap x Taco is opening at The Waterfront in June. Same vibe as Pins x Pints, but with a more expansive menu and different activities, such as darts and a karaoke room.
Maybe I can convince HiLife Hospitality Group to hire a house band led by an animatronic rat.
The NEXT Beer is a column highlighting different brews, breweries and events in and around Pittsburgh. If you have a beer-related news tip, send me an email. Cheers!