Movie theaters, bowling alleys and Walmart drew hot crowds due to their cool environments over the heat wave last weekend. But it’s Dave & Buster’s at the Capital City Mall that continues to pack in plenty of sweaty guests seeking air-conditioned shelter in this all-ages arcade/restaurant.
The Texas-based chain is the brainchild of Dave Corriveau and James “Buster” Corley, who merged their sports bar and entertainment complex under one massive roof to create the first Dave & Buster’s back in 1982.
Consider this place a more family-friendly version of Hollywood Casino, only you win prizes instead of cash. A family of four can could expect to drop a few hundred dollars to keep kiddos happy and well-fed. Power cards begin at $12 for 60 chips, plus $3 to activate each card and 15 bonus chips. Player packs are $25 for 170 chips plus $3 to activate and 15 bonus chips each.
There is a head-spinning book of menu choices, which range from the good to mediocre to disappointing. If greasy carbs are your go-to faves, you’ll love the massive “fill ‘er up” portions. Be aware the food stylist did an excellent job on the menu photos, which look superior to the plate presentations.
For starters, sticky, nondescript barbecue sauce hides the flimsy buffalo wings (eight for $10.99). The smashed bar burger sliders (100 percent Angus blend made with caramelized onions smashed into the patties for $11.79) take their size and shape right from the air hockey game in the arcade. The patties unfortunately didn’t score many points with us. There is no rare to them, which are so skinny it would be impossible to retain red centers on the grill.
Instead, try the flame-grilled blend of chuck, sirloin and round that is the triple bacon burger ($13.99), or the impossible burger ($13.99). Sink your teeth through applewood smoked bacon, peppered bacon pork belly, rich bacon and smoked Gouda sauce, topped with nutty Manchego and cheddar cheeses, lettuce and a swipe of aioli. Never mind the 1,560 calories you’ll have to burn off standing at one of the arcade games.
The impossible burger ($13.99) is a new plant-based “meat” phenomenon that is sweeping the country. This “fake” burger looks and tastes like a beef patty. The flavor of the vegan burger is surprisingly similar to meat. But if you are vegan, don’t eat the bun. It’s made with eggs.
The chicken and waffle sliders ($12.49) are dusted in powdered sugar. But why are the Belgian waffles flecked with rock candy crunchy bits of sugar? The waffle batter is already too sweet and there is some cloying maple syrup for dipping. The pairing of breaded chicken tenders with fat waffles is a carb overload comparable to eating white bread wrapped around French fries.
Garlic Parmesan cheese curds ($9.49) and tempura breaded green beans (found on the dynamite fried shrimp platter, $14.99 with garlic-ginger mashed potatoes) can be added to the same starchy, bland category where the main ingredient is grease. The dynamite elongated fried shrimp drizzled with spicy Bang Bang sauce and Chile honey soy glaze are quite good on their own without the beans and potatoes.
Absolutely skip the Thai chicken superfood chopped salad garnish with greasy won ton chips and flattened, grill-marked and dry chicken pieces. The superfood salad is a glorified bagged lettuce combo of Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and shaved vegetables.
Sweets, however, don’t get any sweeter than the brookie sundae tower ($8.89). Give everyone at the table a spoon to tackle this teetering 1,550 calorie chocolate brownie and chocolate chip cookie sundae. About all you can do after eating this humungous dessert is go play “Zombie Snatcher.”
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 25 years or older and everyone under 21 must leave by 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Those are just some of the rules, go to the website to learn about the dress code and other dos and don’ts.
On top of the games, overpriced food items, and neon-colored specialty drinks, the long island iced teas and craft beers can jack up the bill. But after having fun playing arcade games with family and friends, it’s easy to overlook the mediocre food. Everyone leaves as cooled-off winners slapping high fives with staff en route out the door.
Dave & Busters is located in the Capital City Mall, 3503 Capital City Mall Dr., Camp Hill, 717-934-4400, Daveandbusters.com