In Dublin, we are lucky to have so many different bars, clubs and restaurants to keep us entertained. One of my favourite spots in the city is P Macs which has an amazing selection of board games to keep me and my pals entertained. However, I adore playing video games – my sister knows how competitive I can be at Mario Kart. So when I heard that Dublin was getting it’s first retro arcade bar, I had to find out more.
I sat down with Token’s Senior Community Development Officer Brandon a few weeks ago to find out more for Dublin City FM’s Good Morning Dublin (listen back here.) My co-host Megan and I both agreed that it sounded like the ultimate date spot and were excited to check it out. So when Brandon invited me to be one of the first people to check it out, I couldn’t say no.
Token is just a stone’s throw away from the Smithfield LUAS stop on Queen Street. And don’t worry, you won’t miss it. The outside is sleek and elegant but the lit up sign saying TOKEN is hard to miss. It fits in perfectly with a few of the older pubs around the area because of it’s simple look but it certainly stands out.
When you first enter Token you’re greeted by Big George, and he’s a bit of a dude. He’s got a beaming smile but like his name suggests, he’s BIG – I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. For every person that comes to Token, you’re given a small silver Token to pop into their ball machine. There are five different colour balls and each has a reward – from a free drink, another go at the machine and one ball even gives you a free meal, free game token AND a free drink. I think that’s such a nice touch – instantly you’re playing a game and you don’t even realise it!
Of course, as you would in a bar, the first thing to do was grab a drink. The prices for pints is fantastic. Pints of Guinness and Heineken are just a fiver and Orchard Thieves a tasty €6. You can also enjoy some gorgeous craft beers served on tap but also in bottles and cans. There is something for everyone’s taste. When I first checked it out, there was no cocktail bar open yet, but as I’m a sucker for a gin and tonic you can bet I’ll be the first one there when it does open.
I was lucky enough to bring a plus one on the night, and thank God I did. I was mostly excited to try the food at Token, and with my friend Andy in tow, we tried as much food as we possibly could. First off, the names are gas – Basic Bitch, Side Chick, Haute Damn, Quick Juan, you need to just check it out for yourselves. We tackled the Side Chick chicken burger, the Chihuahua hot dog, the short rib fries AND fries with herb aioli. And let me just say one thing – you DON’T need that much food, our eyes were bigger than out stomach.
With every burger and hot dog, you are served two mini versions along with a handful of chips. I’m a big eater, I could easily win a hot dog eating contest, but I couldn’t finish my food they were so generous. The hot dog was wonderfully spicy and loaded with pulled pork chilli, as was the short rib fries. Delicious! However, the clear winner has to be the Side Chick burgers – they were so succulent with just a hint of spice and the veg was so fresh. I was too full that I wasn’t able try their dessert. It made me kind of sad because the churros looked (and smelt) divine! Fortunately, I’m heading back later this month and you can bet I’ll be devouring all the churros they have.
But it was a good thing we were so full of food because when we finally waddled over to the games, we went hardcore. What I loved the most was that each section was dedicated to certain games – Mario Kart had its own wall, the retro games were bundled together in front of the main bar, the fight games were in an ACTUAL wrestling ring and the pin ball machines were downstairs where conveniently there was a second bar (though it was still being built when I was there.) But the best touch? There were DRINK holders and tables beside every game. Another nice touch was that there were hand sanitizers dotted around the place.
Speaking of games, I have to talk about the tokens themselves. In the middle of the ground floor you can rock up and buy your tokens – and each token purchase comes with an adorable canvas bag! Just look how cute they are? And the tokens, oh lads, the tokens at Token. The front have the bar’s logo but the back has a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien – Token, Tolkien, I think that’s pretty funny.
It’s these little touches that I love the most when I visit places and Token is full of them. In some of the long tables, you can see action figures in one with comics in another. At the bar, a huge sign below the taps has the most suitable quote from Zelda and there’s a little scrap robot on one of the bar shelves looking down on us – like a little tin ninja. There are far more little details that I loved but I encourage you to go and see what you can find yourself.
And last but not least, the staff. I use the term “dude” a lot to describe people that I think are chill and lovely, but the Token staff are the dudiest of dudes. They’re all so helpful and smiley, they checked up on their customers and made sure everything was going smoothly. Some were throwing coasters under pints left, right and centre, which I, as someone who worked in a bar before, really appreciates.
If you haven’t checked out Token yet, I seriously recommend you do. Dublin is such a diverse and exciting city that it’s hard to find something that really stands out – but Token is exactly that. Token is a bar that is a great spot for a first date, a cool hang out joint for you and friends or even a place you can kill time in. But be sure to book in because this places is going to be jammers all summer long.
I nicked all the photos from Token’s Facebook page, which were shot by the talented Hazel Coonagh – check out her website here.