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Nestled between two other Emerald City icons in Admiral (Bartell Drugs and Met Market), Vidiot welcomes you in through the backdoor, then through a short hallway and BOOM. You're right into chaos. (Image: Vidiot Facebook Page)

Gaming & drinking unite at two of the most unique bars in Seattle

Everything was fine until your golf ball hit the hubcap.

Or maybe it was when a Russian MiG shot you out the sky?

No. The laser. When the laser hit you and the klaxon blared - that’s when you knew it was over.

In the fever dream that is Seattle nightlife, these exact moments seem to only happen here.

Well, two places: Smashputt and Vidiot.

They're two of the most unique bars in Seattle, and the top of their class for the glorious mashup of cheap booze, zany games, and the pinch of nostalgia that brings it all together.

Take Vidiot in West Seattle.
Nestled between two other Emerald City icons in Admiral (Bartell Drugs and Met Market), Vidiot welcomes you in through the backdoor, then through a short hallway and BOOM. You're right into chaos. With over two dozen old-school arcade cabinets, pinball machines and seating for boardgames, Vidiot meets the needs of a gamer from any era. With multiplayer Daytona racing, to the Sonics/Blazers rivalry in NBA Jam, the thirst for competition can be quenched.

Oh, and about thirst:

Vidiot has the traditional Seattle bar staples, but has an unexpected (and welcomed) diversity of beer and cider on tap, from Oskar Blues rotations out of Denver, to experimentations of ciders that flirt with pear and peach instead of apples. But you’re here for games, and Vidiot provides hundreds of them thanks to homebrew cabinets that feature new flat-panel screens and rebuilt controllers. Stuffed inside are dozens and dozens of them from stalwarts like Galaga to newer fare like 3D brawlers. Scrolling menus let you easily comb the lists to find yesterday’s favorites, or try a game you could previously find only in Japan.

The night we went, Vidiot was offering a small virtual reality suite to bring in the cutting edge tech being developed right here in Seattle.

And nearly all of it is free.

Unlike other videogame bars, Vidiot only charges for pinball games a few quarters at a time. Unlimited Star Wars Racer, NFL Blitz, or Marvel vs. Capcom and so many more. If the digital world isn’t quite your speed, maybe take a stroll on the links on the absurd playground of Smashputt near the Waterfront and downtown.

Smashputt has been a seasonal favorite of Seattle Refined for years, but this is the final hole. Four more weeks until the experimental mini-golf palace is closed for good. The concept is a bar within a putt-putt course that goes beyond windmills and loop-de-loops. Smashputt creates interactive art with a zest for anarchy.

Take the Mission Impossi-”ball” hole, which features a darkened room filled with occasional blasts of fog. It’s the only way you can see the laser beams - duh.

The course requires you to clamber ever-so-gently over and under the beams in order to hit your ball and steal a “diamond” in the cup. Think of that, uh, one scene from “Entrapment” with Catherine Zeta-Jones. And if you do slip up and hit one of the beams, the jig is up and the alarm bell sounds. It’s awesome.

There’s also an hilarious basement rumpus room themed room with bad shag carpeting, an Atari console, wood paneling, and a faux kitty litter box for the hole.

All the feels.

One of the most underrated “holes” is a programmable sound machine with golf balls. A record-sized container holds the balls, but depending on their location, a motion sensor triggers a snare or bass drum, or plucks a string. Each ball could create a new rhythm of sound, encouraging players to (for once) put down a drink and simply play.

That’s always been Smashputt’s goal: to make drinkers and gamers rekindle their creative and expressive side. The hope is meld some mental energy with its kinetic cousin. It’s rare that a bar can make you think.

Unless you just want to hit a golf ball up a giant foosball table. You can do that too.

Because it’s all just a game after all.

  • Vidiot is located at 4210 SW Admiral Way in West Seattle. Admission is free.
  • Smashputt is located at 1122 Post Ave in downtown. Tickets range from $10-$24, with special VIP rooms available.