Best Place to Play Pinball - 2005
Eat Rite Diner
With just two pinball machines, the Eat Rite might not have the best selection in town, but those two babies are classics. Eight Ball, based on the television show Happy Days, was the first digital pinball machine to include ball-to-ball memory and went on to become one of the best-selling games ever. Roller Derby, one of the few "bingo" pinball games to be found in St. Louis, is completely devoid of flippers. Instead gamers punch colored buttons and hope to land balls in winning configurations that pay off behind the bar (it's a precursor to push-button slot machines). Eat Rite's management wants to make clear that today the game is simply for amusement purposes and does not pay out. That pinball's popularity peaked decades ago makes the throwback Eat Rite -- hardly altered in its 60-plus years of operation -- an even better venue for the sport. With the beehived madams slinging hash behind the counter and the jukebox tuned to Patsy Cline, the pinball players at the Eat Rite might imagine themselves transported back to the halcyon 1970s when pinball was king and the Fonz -- illuminated on Eight Ball's scoreboard -- ruled the airwaves. Honorable mention to Beatnik Bob's in the City Museum (701 N. 15th Street, St Louis; 314-231-2489), which features plenty of old-school pinball machines; but to play "em you must first pay the museum's admission fee of $8 to $12.