I remember a few years back when Lyrath, a five-star hotel in Kilkenny, opened for the first time. Joe Dolan played and the crowds swarmed into an unfinished venue. It was a disaster, with door handles coming off and cars getting beached after parking on grass. In Dublin, there’s a brand new bar currently in a Beta phase after only opening on Monday. I went along on Thursday after they opened their doors and I’m delighted to say their opening week is going a lot better than poor old Lyrath’s did.
What is Token?
It would be very easy to just brand Token as a nerd’s paradise, but it’s so much more. Token is a really happy little part of Dublin that’s thrown their arms wide open to the public. On the surface, Token is a restaurant and bar that’s stuffed with authentic arcade gaming machines and I really do mean authentic. These are proper old-school versions of Mortal Kombat and Pac-man that you can challenge for top scores on.
I was taken aback by the mix of people in the venue. Some might have feared that it would be hard-core gamers, but there were as many people who were trying out pinball for the first time as were going for top scores. Let’s dig a little deeper into how Token operates.
The service in Token
I want to start with the service because the humans are often forgotten about. Everyone in Token is incredibly friendly. From the bouncer on the door, right through to the bar staff, everyone is just happy to help you out. So, to the people of Token, you’re amazing.
The food in Token
Dublin can be an expensive place to eat and often you don’t get what you pay for. First of all, Token has an impressive range of food, all with names that will likely make you giggle:
I went for the Sneaky Juan while my better half nabbed a Quick Juan. Just because we were starving we opted for a No Juan too – honestly, I laughed too much at that option. We also threw on some fries. While the portions initially looked a little small, I was stuffed after my grub. The tacos and fries tasted gorgeous and the garlic mayo is a definite highlight.
There really is something for everyone with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too.
The beer in Token
Pardon the pun, but the beer sums up the spirit in Token. There’s a wide selection of beers from your classics to crafts and they all come at a standard enough price. The gas part is the fact they haven’t really got the proper bar license yet. With a classic ‘can-do’ attitude, they are playing a loop-hole which allows you to serve alcohol in a restaurant to people once they are served at a table. This is why you order your beer and collect it from a table in front of the bar. Genius.
Here’s my food and drinks receipt for two people. I think you’ll agree it’s very fair indeed.
The games in Token
And then we get to the important part; the games. You’re barely in the front door and you’re playing a crane-arm game to try and win some free food and drinks. On the floor, there is an amazing selection of games on show, many of which I’ve never had the chance to play before visiting Token. I love retro gaming, but I just wasn’t around the last time arcades like Token were thriving. I was a bit of a dab-hand at the G-Con gun powered Point Blank game, while the likes of Mortal Kombat left me feeling more than a little humbled (I’m used to the Sega controller, I swear). Like, just look at my face, the face of a broken man:
I took a beating from my other half on Street Fighter and after a period of sulking, I got stuck into other classics like Pac-man. The one genuine fear I had about Token was that it wouldn’t be good value. With the food and beer not being silly prices, I was delighted to see the great value gaming tokens on offer. I grabbed 50 tokens for €20 which kept four of us entertained for the night. You even get a cool little Token bag for your gaming tokens – I don’t know why, but it’s just a really nice memento to get.
Token: The verdict
As soon as I heard about Token, I knew it would be a great spot but it really is one of Dublin’s most unique and enjoyable venues. The atmosphere is great and you’ll just be in a good mood after visiting the place.