A Huge Boardwalk-Themed Bar Is Opening at the Wharf With Games and Beach-Style Fare

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade is slated to open by the end of the year.

Boardwalk Bar & Arcade offers daily happy hour. Photograph by Anna Meyer

The Boardwalk, a beach-y bar in Penn Quarter with arcade games and carnival-inspired fare, is expanding to a fitting location by the water. Better Hospitality Group (BHG), which also operates Shaw rooftop bars Takoda and Cortez, has signed a lease for a huge 10,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor space at the Wharf (it’s taking over a former yoga studio and boat supply shop). Boardwalk Bar & Arcade is slated to open by the end of this year.

BHG founder and CEO Ryan Seelbach says the theme was designed with an inclusive audience in mind.

“When you think about a boardwalk in Rehoboth or Coney Island there are different games, drinks, something for everyone—a 25-year-old who wants a bar scene, or a younger family who wants to take their kids to play arcade games, or someone older who just wants a hot dog at the waterfront.”

The young and young-at-heart can play arcade games—both vintage and modern—plus basketball games, pinball, table football, Skee-ball, and more. BHG executive chef Julio Estrada has designed a nostalgic beachfront menu with options like homemade corn dogs and hot dogs, popcorn, thin-crust pizzas, fish tacos, and club sandwiches. The bar will get playful with drinks like a cotton-candy collins (vodka, lemon, spun sugar) or a bourbon-based butter-corn Old Fashioned, plus frozen cocktails, sangria, and a lengthy list of beers.

The coastal space will be designed with the return of groups and events in mind. Similar to BHG’s other locations, spaces for large parties will be available with no fees or minimums. A retractable glass window system will open the indoors to a large patio in nice weather, and give an indoor/outdoor feel year-round.

Currently, the original Boardwalk in Penn Quarter is still closed due to the pandemic, but Seelbach says he plans to reopen the basement bar soon. In the meantime, he says he’s not nervous about plotting a major expansion.

“Hospitality operators across the country have different beliefs in what the future will look like,” Seelbach says. “My prediction is starting in 2022, we’ll enter the roaring ’20s 2.0. Maybe it won’t happen right away. But people will be celebratory when we’re on the other side of this horrible pandemic.”

The Boardwalk Bar & Arcade. 715 Wharf St., SW

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.