Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Silver Ballroom

I am a huge fan of pinball.  I spent some of my formative years in the Bel-Air bowling alley in Belleville, Illinois and Aladdin's Castle in the St. Clair Square mall in Fairview Heights, Illinois pumping many quarters into pinball machines.  My favorites were Elvira, Whirlwind, Funhouse and Bride of Pinbot.
 But where can you go to play pinball in St. Louis?  Our vintage bowling alleys have been destroyed to make way for Walgreens (Red Bird Lanes and Carriage Bowl).  There aren't any arcades that I'm aware of in the city (please correct me if I'm wrong).  And, there are just a few places that have pinball (Cecil Whittaker's on Grand comes to mind).

Well all that has recently changed thanks to the Silver Ballroom at 4801 Morgan Ford, right at Itaska in the heart of the Bevo neighborhood.
I was lucky enough to have some time sans kids and my wife is cool, so you know she enjoys playing pinball and drinking a few beers and listening to some music. 

All our needs were met at this righteous joint.  First of all, the owner is really cool and friendly.  The bar is covered in various punk band flyers from shows in St. Louis.  Sonic Youth, Minutemen, the Replacements, Husker Du, etc.

The place is divided into two rooms, the first with the bar, some small tables and a kick ass jukebox with the Clash, X, Supersuckers, Pixies, Black Flag, MC5 and Lou Reed among others.  I dropped in a buck to spin Gigantic by the Pixies, Delta 88 by X and Six Pack by Black Flag.  That got the juices pumping.

The next room is the money room.  This is where the pinball action occurs.  There is a small stage set up for bands, several tables, a change dispenser and 9 pinball machines.

I was pleased to see the Machine Bride of Pinbot as one, Elvis (by Stern), No Good Golfers (by Williams), Dr. Dude (by Bally), Apollo 13 (by Sega), The Champion Pub (by Bally) and 3 old time classics that were being restored and repaired for play:  Toledo (by Williams), Lucky Lady (by Williams) and Zip-A-Doo (by Bally).

The drinks were great and the beer selection is good, I called a Czechvar.  The lights that hang from the ceiling are crafted from Jack Daniels bottles.

There is a small menu that includes several items all under $5.50:
  • The Beefeater (1/4 lb chopped beef with sharp cheddar and horseradish cream)
  • The All American (1/4 lb all-beef frank onions, relish, mustard)
  • The Bavarian (1/4 lb knackwurst, mashed potatoes, kraut)
  • The Sicilian (1/4 lb salsiccia braised with peppers and onions)
  • and Billy Goat Chips made fresh in Princeton Heights.
Some of the sausages come from the dynamite G and W Bavarian sausage at Parker and Kingshighway.

I highly recommend this south city bar.  Pinball, punk rock, non-pretentious, good food, beer and booze.


  1. I like pinball too. Good to know! Jaelyn: http://bit.ly/8YFKwZ

  2. Here in saint louis it looks like we have a ton of pinball fans. I havent been here yet but this place looks great. http://www.cppinball.com/ No we just need places like these that have retro arcade games. Do you know of any? I'll check back later to see if you respond. great blog btw

  3. CP Pinball is bad ass. There must be over 80 machines in the place. Plus it is 10 bucks for all you can play from 6p.m.-12 a.m. And you can bring your own booze! Definetly worth the drive.

  4. Jschu, I've gotta check this place out, thanks for the reminder. I likes me some South Roxana, it's a lot like Carondelet only tougher.

  5. This is awesome! And yes, Chuck's place at www.cppinball.com is awesome too!

  6. StL is a great place to be if you love pinball. The silver ballroom kicks ass for a city venue, you can't ask for a better hangout. It is great to be able to play and not have to blast the headphones to drown out poppy nastiness found elsewhere. Pretty smokey at night is the only criticism for a non/ex-smoker. They are hosting their first tournament soon as well, embracing, promoting, and extending the local culture. Really an incredible place and thanks to the great crew there. If you are looking to play some insane pinball, head to CP (open 4 nights a month, cppinball.com). I don't think you will find a better collection anywhere. Each game is in superb condition, oh yeah, and there are about 80 machines. They also have a few multicade systems with pretty much every old school arcade game you may have forgotten about. A recent addition, Dragon's Lair! Yeah, remember that one!!!

  7. that's my Zip-a-Doo game! sold it to em in may. tony erba in Cleveland OH

  8. Yep STL is definitely a Pinball town. After going to CP pinball we got our own pinball for our basement from: www.STLpinball.com they were awesome to deal with!