Pros: Decent food, fun games, lots of prizes.
Cons: Bathrooms could be cleaner.
About ten years ago, friends of ours from Westchester County, New York organized an impromptu get together at a place called Dave & Buster's, which I had never heard of before. We found D&B (as it is often referred to) to be a lot of fun, so we have been back on numerous occasions.
The location we visit is in the Palisades Park Mall in West Nyack, New York, which is about an hour and a half from our home in Staten Island. The mall is huge, housing a Target, Staples and Best Buy along with the standard department and small mall stores. Our most recent visit was in conjunction with our stay at the Doral Arrowwood hotel, which is about twenty minutes away.
Dave & Busters is a restaurant, bar and arcade, but an arcade that both children and adults can enjoy. The location in the Palisades Mall has a very large dining area with an adjacent bar, a pool table and shuffleboard area, a private dining room for parties (and we often see bachelor or bachelorette parties there) and a bar in the middle of the midway arcade area. This bar is surrounded by two-dozen bar stools, with about a dozen tables and another dozen booths, where waitress service is available. Numerous televisions showing a variety of sporting events hang over the bar, and since the bar is centrally located, they can be seen while playing some of the games as well.
Many times we will eat lunch or dinner here before playing games, especially since they often offer specials where you get a card for playing the games with a purchase of selected meals. These "Eat & Play Combos" are currently priced at $15.99 and with that you get a choice of about ten entrees including Fried Shrimp, Sirloin Steak, Chicken & Ribs and Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Pasta, which happens to be the menu item I usually order. For that price you also get a game card with $10 worth of game chips loaded onto it, but if you want to upgrade, for $23.99 you can get a $20 game card. This special is usually available all day Sundays through Thursdays, but only until 5:00 pm Fridays and Saturdays.
In addition to the specials, Dave & Busters offers appetizers such as Chicken Wings, Cheese Fries and Mozzarella Sticks ($6.49) as well as entrees including seafood, chicken, ribs, burgers and salads. One of my son's favorite meals is the Bar Burgers and Wings Platter ($13.69) which consists of four mini cheeseburgers, chicken wings and french fries.
The dessert offers a variety of treats, generally in the five to six dollar range, including Key Lime Pie, New York Cheesecake, Hot Sugared Donut Holes and a Frosty Mug Cookie Sundae (ice cream sundae served in an Irish Coffee mug). We usually skip dessert as the appetizers followed by the large entree portions are usually enough to fill us, but on one occasion we did splurge on the Chocolate Fondue ($8.29). A small bowl of chocolate was served with graham crackers, marshmallows, brownie bites, strawberries and bananas, but the melted chocolate was not very impressive, and a melted Hershey bar would have been better.
Depending on how crowded it is and time of day of our visit will determine if we request a seat in the large main dining area, or one in the bar area. At peak hours, with all of the video games making noise, and with many people walking around from game to game, the bar area is a good place for a drink or if we are just going to order an appetizer or two. It is not the place to have a quiet or relaxed lunch or dinner, so if we see it is busy we eat in the regular dining room. On a recent summer weekday afternoon, there would have been no problem eating near the bar as it was not that crowded, but when we returned on a Friday evening there was a wait for those tables, plus it was extremely noisy there.
When we visit, we usually eat first, especially if we will be getting a game card with our meals, and then start playing the games. There are attendants and machines available to purchase a game card, add money to your card or just check the balance on the card. You need to swipe the card through each machine in order to play, and they cost a variety of points, from about 1.8 to 10 points, and an assortment of values in between.
The Palisades Mall D&B currently has video games including Mario Kart, Star Wars, horse-racing, car racing, trivia games, Deal or No Deal, crane games, skee-ball, basketball, and "pusher" games where you strategically drop tokens into a machine in the hopes that tokens will be pushed over the edge, giving you tickets. Not all games reward you with tickets, but the more tickets you have the better the prizes you can redeem for in the Winner's Circle.
At the Winner's Circle, give your tickets and game card to the attendant and the card will be returned to you with a prize value on it. These points will remain on your card until you redeem them so as long as you do not lose your card, you can visit over and over again to save up for the bigger prizes. Recently, we saved up a few trips' worth of tickets and garnered over 6,000 points, which was about enough to trade in for a video game, if we had wanted to do that. Instead, we redeemed for a variety of items including a disco ball, an air-blaster game, a few stuffed animals, and some candy. Barware, clothing and electronics are also available.
To avoid problems, there is a stated six minors to one adult ratio. When we visit with our children we usually do so in the afternoon or evening hours, and on the rare occasion we visit with adults only, it can get very crowded and unruly late on a Friday or Saturday night.
Dave and Busters is a favorite place for my family to visit both for a meal and for the games that they offer. Dinner for four usually costs about $100, including some cards loaded with money to play the games. It is very easy to keep reaching into your pocket for tens or twenty dollar bills to add to the game cards, so if you are not careful you can go through a lot of money here.
We have always had good service, whether we eat in the dining room or the bar area, and if there is ever a problem with a game, such as it running out of tickets, the attendants who walk around the midway floor have always been helpful. My only real complaint about this particular Dave & Busters is the bathroom. The ladies room is large, with I believe twelve stalls and five or six sinks, and is decorated nicely with plants and foliage, but it is not kept very neat. Early in the day, it starts out clean, but by the evening hours, there are often empty paper-towel holders and overflowing trash cans.
I have probably been to the Dave & Busters in the Palisades Mall about ten times, sometimes with my children, sometimes with just adults, and sometimes for an entire meal and other times just for snacks and drinks, and each time I have had a good overall experience. I am glad that we live ninety minutes away, so that we can go there for the day once in a while, yet are not tempted to go on a regular basis and spend all of our money in the hopes of winning hundreds of tickets.