Growing up, you always had your friends’ houses pegged. Kevin’s was where you played Nintendo 64 and ate undercooked DiGiorno pizza in his room, Patrick’s was where you watched Cruel Intentions in his basement with pillows over your laps and listened to his dad lose his mind to the Bears game upstairs, and Drew had the hot older sister you always tried to catch walking in a towel from the bathroom to her bedroom. Kids are weird, but they always know what you’re good for.
We thought we knew what Button Mash was good for.
We knew the arcade bar in Echo Park was cashing in hard on the 80’s/90’s nostalgia that makes 30-year-olds feel alive again. It’s a smart move - you eat some cheap bar food, get a handful of tokens, and play Indiana Jones pinball until your joints flare and you’re reminded you’re an adult again. Everybody wins.
But Button Mash is so much more than that. Yes, their game stock is impressive. If you’re an arcade junkie, you’re going to have your hands full for hours. The space is gigantic and its hyper-modern design is cool in contrast to the old-school machines that occupy it. And despite the fact that Button Mash is extremely popular and the crowds are intense, the well-designed layout keeps you from ever feeling like you want to die. All of this is important. But it all pales in comparison to what makes Button Mash truly great: the food.
The menu was designed by the people behind the Chinatown cult favorite Starry Kitchen, so we expected the food at Button Mash would be good. Just not this good. This is the kind of elevated drunk food most bars in the continental United States have tried to achieve for years and always failed. The tofu balls, the ginger wings, the jackfruit sandwich, the Dan Dan noodles, the burger. It’s all tremendous, both accessible and weird at the same time.
And that’s why you could just as easily go to Button Mash for an off-color date night as you could with a big group friends for a night of NBA Jam mayhem. There’s something for everyone at Button Mash, whether you’ve ever played an arcade game in your life or not.
And that’s something no one had pegged.
The hype is real. These weird, little green balls are fantastic and that housemade sriracha sauce on the side isn’t a terrible thing either.
When a waiter warns us that something is spicy after we order it, IT BETTER BE SPICY. And these babies definitely were. But above just being spicy, they were flat-out delicious and perfect to share with a table of beer drinkers.
Soooooo, is this the best burger no one is talking about? Absolutely. This thing works because there’s frankly not much to it. Just a patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and the bun. And it is EXCELLENT.
All of the yes. You’re going to want to order the spicy pork belly sandwich, but order this instead. The mexican coke gives the whole thing a serious pop. And that pun was intended.
Anything with Sichuan peppercorns is a choice. And we’re telling you to choose yes.
Probably the only real miss on the menu for us. We frankly weren’t blown away by any of the desserts at Button Mash, so no need to save room. Besides, Mortal Combat is calling your name.