Tilt is a barcade in Toronto that wants to outdo all others. Located in the Annex next to the Tranzac Club, it’s owned and operated by Nathan Hunter (who used to run music venues such as Junction City Music Hall and always put pinball machines in his clubs) along with Dan Beeson, Mark Bartolo and Evan Oswald.
He has a leg up in the business due to being passionate about their repair and maintenance. The location that he's now moved into with venture has been home to a musical chairs of different businesses, most recently Poutineville.
The large space serve this concept well. Upon entry you’re greeted by a sort of host at a podium with a sign that encourages you to check your coat for $2 and warns “You will move around in here. You will want to check your coat. Trust us.”
Just beyond there’s a couch that emulates every adolescent basement facing a TV where you can play old school two player games.
In the back corner of the bar a full on skee ball game is hidden away, past other non-pinball offerings like tabletop hockey, foos ball, and another couch area with a big screen TV where you can play slightly newer games like Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo.
Two staggering rows of arcade games and pinball machines line either side of the bar with long standing height tables in the middle of the room. Pinball games are organized chronologically, starting with a precursor to pinball called Pennant Fever and a game called Chicago from 1976. On the left sits simple Atari classic Asteroids.
This brings me to one of the most interesting things about Tilt, which is that the most fascinating games you’ll find yourself playing probably won’t be pinball machines at all.
One of the oldest is S.A.M.I. from 1969, which has no real screen but operates by projecting images and the “missiles” you fire onto a tilted backdrop
The food here is simple but cheap and crushable, with fun classics like hot dogs and chili cheese fries, many of which can be made vegetarian. You order food at a small window and they bring it out to wherever you find yourself. The dog is classic Chicago style ($5.25), made with the same meat and buns the best Toronto street vendors use.
Chili cheese fries ($5.75) are satisfying, made with house chihuahua queso and house chili, offering more Mexican than Western flavours with Guajillo peppers and cilantro.
The booze menu is primarily oriented toward craft beer rather than cocktails, which keeps the drink experience less pretentious and more affordable. Their house Tilt Brau by Amber goes for six bucks a pint.