Arena Bar and Grill

very good

26 Reviews
Arena Bar and GrillArena Bar and Grill

Type: Bar, Eatery

380 Coal St
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 18702-6623
United States

(570) 970-8829 | map

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Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-11-2005

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 36
Photo of CharlesK
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Have been here well over 25 times, mostly for their 5-7 happy hour. I am a big fan of this place. Well above average draft list as well as a great bottle list. Food is always great as well. It is just a great place to come for a few beers and dinner after work. Chill atmosphere, sometimes a little busy. No complaints from me!

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.78/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Found this place on BA while in Wilkes-Barre. The parking lot was jam packed, but once I got in I realized it was pretty spacious. It looks somewhat of a chain restaurant mixed with a sports bar. They had about 40 beers on draft as well as about 200 bottles or so. The draft list was categorized into styles and the bottle list was categorized by country of origin. Each beer had all the pertinent information i.e. brewery, name, style, abv etc. All the usual suspects from Germany, Belgium,. and a boatload from the US. Virtually every major style available and a few more uncommon. The servers were very attentive and no one left you waiting with an empty glass. The people at the bar were very friendly and the food was pretty tasty too. Check this place out. One of the better beer bars outside of a city.

I forgot to mention they have crazy happy hour specials somewhere int he range of 5-7 and also 10-12. I was informed every beer on the draft list was $2 during those hours. That's hard to beat.

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Photo of Awscjr
1/5  rDev -73.5%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 1 | food: 1

I frequent Arena weekly and have never ran into a problem until tonight. There was a Memorial Day special that clear stated in multiple advertisements that mixed drinks were $2. Having been to restaurant numerous times and being familiar with the menu my girlfriend and friend ordered drinks under the section labeled "Mixed Drinks" thinking they would be $2 as posted near everywhere, except the incoherent server-in-training who mentioned some sort of list but never bothered to bring us said list or inform us that the drinks beig ordered were in fact the full $5, until both were at least 2 drinks in a piece. We requested to speak to the manager from a snippy waitress that was overseeing the trainee. Five minutes later we were informed by the trainee that the manager was not willing to see us because it was busy. We said we would wait. When the manager did arrive nearly 40 minutes later, she waived our calm explanations of a mix up off, refusing to admit any error on her part or the trainees stating the ads were clear, even though they were not. After trying to explain further she walked away mid-sentence of my friend and refused to even come back near our table. The snippy waitress cooled off and tried to get the manager back to the table but we sat there for an hour and a half longer before finally deciding Arena Bar & Grill is not worth any more of our time, nor should it be worth a second of anyone else's. so much for putting the customer first. $5 cover for the worst experience I, and my party, have ever had.

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Photo of ssznyter
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

The Arena Bar and Grill in Wilkes Barre has a great selection both bottles and draft beers. The draft beer line up is especially impressive as they have about 50 beers on tap, most of which constantly rotate. Normal pricing is alright. Pretty much exactly where it should be for what the particular beer you want to try is. Where this place especially shines for a beer taster is the happy hours they do throughout the week. Most draft beers including many very nice craft beer choices are only $2 a draft during happy hours. This is a great way to try many very good beers whether you are new to beer tasting or a seasoned veteran. When they are very busy however it is difficult to get a seat at the bar and service can take awhile. If you don't mind leaving the table and standing by the bar for a drink though you can still get served pretty quickly. The staff seems fairly knowledgeable about beer but the menu gives such detailed descriptions of each beer that its rare you would even need to ask too much. The menu is really good but nothing is over-the-top amazing that I would go there specifically for. I usually order sweet potato fries and/or the tuna wrap (both definitely worth a try if you are already there). Overall, its a great bar and their Sunday night happy hour (9pm-11pm) is definitely the best thing you could do if you're looking to kill some time on a Sunday night. Wish they didn't take out the pool tables though as there isn't much to do besides sit, talk, and drink.

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Photo of muletrane
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

At "The Arena" you'll find a nice tap selection. Lots to choose from here. From local offerings like Breaker Brewing, Bullfrog, Fegley's to nice Belgian offerings like St. Bernardus, Chimay, Duchess and Delirium plus lots more. Always rotating. Nice bottle selection here too. Flower Power, Jolly Pumpkin, Hoppin Frog, Founders just to name a few.

The food at the arena is pretty good. Alot better than it used to be. I love their cheesesteak wrap with a side of onion straws. Delicious! During happy hour they have $2 apps and $2 drafts.

Only downside to the arena is the borderline terrible service when it's busy. Very disorganized and slooow. No jukebox. And the radio they play is all pop bullsh!t.

Other than that I enjoy coming here for some good beer. Can't until The Companion gets tapped!

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Photo of kirchnak
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

If I lived in Wilkes-Barre I'm sure I'd be a regular. Great selection of brews, the only downfall is that they don't offer flights. At least 50 on tap and hundreds more in bottles.

The food wasn't impressive; the cheez-whiz on my "Irish Fries" made them almost unedible, but I don't know how the rest of the menu is. I felt like I was channeling my inner Gordon Ramsay while talking about them with my friend. I'm just glad I didn't drink so much I had to taste those fries again.

However, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the prices very reasonable. I would definitely recommend a stop if you are in the area. Don't be fooled, it does look like a dive from the outside, but it is much nicer inside.

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Photo of cooch69
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Arena Bar and Grill was the bar that got me hooked onto craft beer. It was the first bar that I had a full bottle of craft at. It was always a good place to grab a drink. Especially on the week nights when It's not to crowded. The service there is always pretty good. The food is quality as well, thhough I havent eaten there that much lately. There beer selection is pretty big(especially there drafts). There's always something good on, but rarely anything that's crazy. This is a great place to bring a party and drink drink drink.

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Photo of BeerIsland
4.01/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

It was the Friday night after Thanksgiving so way more crowded than usual, as I was told. I so enjoy being the oldest guy in the bar, particularly when there's 150 people in there! Not too much geekery in evidence, either. Hadn't set foot in the building since it was Black Rock and was curious to see what it was like. They had a very decent tap selection including a few I'd never sampled. I didn't have time to take a tasting cruise but will raincheck that one. I did enjoy the Hooker 'fest; one of a few holdovers from the fall.

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Photo of bbeane
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

My girlfriend wanted to go up to Wilkes to see some friends and told me she wanted to take me to a bar with a lot of great beer on tap. She said she knew I'd enjoy it... she was right. There was a great variety of bottled and draught beer ( I believe they had 7 permanent taps and 33 rotating that were categorized as either "here and gone", "seasonal", and "super premium". We sat at the bar, and the bartender seemed pretty knowledgeable and very willing to give samples of all the beers... some without even asking. Can't comment to much on food... all we had was a popcorn chicken app, which was good. Price was very reasonable. We had a New Holland Zoomer Wit, Founders Breakfast Stout, a Chimay Tripel (white), and an order of popcorn chicken... $17 and change.

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Photo of psulovesbeer
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

A frequent of mine.
The atmosphere on a busy happy hour is very busy but other times its relaxed and mellow as its a large place with a few people only.
Service has always been helpfull and if you have a question they find out the answer. They also for the most part either know the beer or ask someone who does.
Selection is good with 50 drafts and multiple bottles mostly craft but with enough regular macros to satisfy anyone you take their to get your own drink on.
Food is typicaly good...nothing amazing though some of the things are great...ive yet to be let down but never been wowed.
Prices especially during happy hour are great for 2$ drafts of some very nice beers.(2$ golden monkeys for a while can hurt so have a driver)
Perhaps one of the best places for beer geeks is that non-beer geeks see the good in the place and will gladly go here.

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Photo of VegasBill
3.93/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

First the good. The tap beer selection is outstanding, so so many unusual beers that I do not have often. Lucky for me I was staying in a hotel only a few minutes away as I had a few more pints than normal.
The food was also very good. I tried two appetizers that were different, they were the Crab Stuffed Pretzel and the Onion Petals.
Now the bad, the parking has been mentioned on every previous review and it is that bad. The smoke smell in the bar is overwhelming, it does not go with food, or beer for that matter. The service staff has bad attitudes, they dont seem to care, and with this said the place is packed, so I will leave it up to you to figure that out.

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Photo of johnnyirishman
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Went for a nice dinner and drinks with some friends and family. Firsts things first...the parking lot sucks, but the waitresses are smokin' hot, that got my attention right off the bat. The Restraunt is well put together with lots of different seating arrangements( Tables from 2 on up, booths and bar seating) The most impressive thing about this establishment is of course "Their Beer Selection".. Over 30 beers on tap at any given time, (And except for the major BMC stuff most taps are Dedicated to Micro's only!) And what a selection!!. Their bottle selection is good too, lots of hard to find stuff from America and around the world. I probably had 8 beers there that I've been looking for and couldent find near my home, so its safe to say that i was pleased. The food was also good, not great but good. I opted for the Magic #9 Chicken (Grilled chicken with a Magic Hat #9 BBQ glaze.) Unfortunately the wait staff although good looking wernt very attentive. So take this as you will.

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Photo of McLovinmybeer
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The parking lot is atrocious, many people ruin even the narrow spacing by parking over two of the limited amount of spots.
The inside atmosphere is that of a sports bar, as the Wachovia Arena is nearby. If you're not a smoker, this place tends to be on the smokey side.
The selection is pretty good, but the prices are high, the super premium taps are just as everyone has described, and the waitstaff is not knowledgable or very attentive on the whole. Their happy hour is the best time to go, $2 drafts (about 50 in total) between 5-7.

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Photo of mymrnngjckt
2.48/5  rDev -34.4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 1.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

Let us start with the parking lot. Where did they get the measurments for the lines for cars? Did you use a dirt bike? I drive a small sized SUV and the wheelwells hang out over the lines. Not a good start to my visit.

The beers I had were served in small glasses. I don't know how often they clean their lines but guessing from the three draft beers I had, never. Regardless of the beer style I had, ll ofthe beers had a stale taste.

The service, while visually appealing, sucked. I have no other words to describe it. Waited for over 10 minutes to have my beer refilled each time and it wasn't even crowded. The wait staff spent more time conversing with the bartenders that dealing with the customers.

The one part I cannot knock is the selection. Pretty impressive. 50 drafts, only about 15 I would call filler. The rest was a a nice, diverse selection. The bottle list of about 100 also had a lot of unique beers to the area.

The food was bland and uninspired. I would not eat there again. I would rather go to the Sheetz down the street and eat there.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

First off, I love the accompanying picture! The snowpack in the foreground bespeaks NE PA and I mean that in a loving, native way. It's the old joke of the Welsh who looked around and said, "Boys, this business of mining coal under cold, hazardous conditions in Wales is for the birds! Let's move to Pennsylvania, in the U. S. and mine coal under cold, hazardous conditions there!" If you are looking for snow, ice, and cold, then NE PA might be the place for you.

That said, this was the former home of Black Rock BC and it was just a short way from the Wachovia Arena, home of the W-B/Scranton Penguins. The central doorway still opened onto a slightly angled vestibule, which was now lined with a display of available bottles, followed by frosted double glass doors. Inside, the m.d.s. was to the immediate right. Continuing left past the m.d.s., was a semi-private party area with leather couches and chairs as well as a big screen television. Across from the m.d.s. was a cigar humidor and the washrooms were down a passageway to the left of the humidor. A short wall topped by a flat shelf fronted the bar. The bar was a "U"/horseshoe shape with an island in the center for the waitstaff. The open end of the U faced the extensive bank of taps, flanked by doors that opened onto the cooler. The restaurant area began along the right wall and wrapped around almost the entire perimeter of the building, with the exception of a small game room in the center of the rear wall, flanked by electronic games.

The minuses: The parking lot was wee small, plus the spaces did not seem to conform to standards and were narrower than usual, making it tough to debark/embark the vehicle. Smoking is still allowed in PA and this place seemed to encourage it. Having developed asthma in my 40's, it made it tough to deal with. My non-drinking friend was unimpressed with our waitress, but she simply had nowhere to put us, nor could she begin turning people away. It was a jam-packed Friday evening, following a Penguins AHL game overtime win.

The beers: They had a separate menu for the ninety-plus bottled beers that they offered. The drafts numbered fifty, with twenty-nine being quality micros, nine being high-end imports, and twelve BMC standards. They were also set up for cask, although nothing was offered on this particular evening.

Mom Test: No! If my non-drinking, non-smoking buddy can't hang, my mom is a write-off.

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Photo of kaskanak
3.25/5  rDev -14%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

My friends and I were in town for the Split Rock beer festival so we decided to stay the weekend and check out the WIlkes-Barre / Scranton bar scene.

We hit the Arena for some beers and food. RIght off the bat we were blown away by their list of beers in bottle and on draught. Lots of good selections and a large quantity of pretty standard (but good bottles).

Unfortunately this bar seems to be a perfect example of a place that puts in a ton of tap handles, puts a ton of beers on draught, fills the cooler with bottles---but then can't keep the quality up. Very sad to say but this place has quantity but no quality. I'd rather see them do 10 beers very well than the 30 or 40 they are now doing poorly.

Between 7 of us we had 4 or 5 beers each, and we each had at least one or two "funny tasting beers." Not sure if they aren't cleaning the tap lines, not clearing the lines when they actually pour, or they simply aren't selling enough of these beers to move the kegs quickly enough...but somthing tasted odd....and these are beers we know and drink all the time.

I'll admit it's picky on my part, but I was hoping they'd at least get the glassware close. They had a few glassware choices but most were wrong....again picky on my part.

It's an odd atmosphere at the Arena, very much like a sports bar. The bar staff seem nice, but more than a little disinterested and distant. They don't seem to know much about beer and they don't seem to have even tasted most of the beers. They seem to be afraid to pour even one sample. I'm not sure if they are told to not pour samples or if they have so much abuse they simple won't do it. By the end of the evening we actually joked at the face the bartenders made each time when we asked. I'm not sure why a good bartender can't separate a good beer loving customer from someone abusing the sample but they don't or aren't allowed to. More concerning is that this seems to come from the top and not necessarily the front line staff. There's really seems to be something bigger going on behind the scenes here because they all seem to be afraid or something. Perhaps the locals know more about the reputation of this place's management.

Outside the beers...the food was pretty good with a decent overall choice. We ate in the bar table area and boy was it full of smoke. Stinky. They crossed up our tabs too but it was fairly busy that night.

Overall the Arena is sort of a smoky sports bar. The food was acceptable, but the beer was not. What a shame to see so many beers in such an odd place. Thankfully we live 2 hours away, but I wouldn't cross the street to return to the Arena, especially given the new beer bars starting to show up in the WIlkes-Barre Scranton area. What a shame.

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Photo of kibbins
2.48/5  rDev -34.4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 2 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I drove about an hour and visited the Arena last Friday. After all the reviews on here I wanted to see for myself if they were exaggerated or not. With this many beers available who could go wrong??....well apparently me! Lets start with the non-beer stuff. Parking: If you like your car, be afraid--be VERY afraid. I parked 3 times before I could even get out of my car. Who painted these lines! Smoking: This place just plain smells. There appears to be a smoking room. None of the smokers use it and none of the staff ennforce it. Most of my group refused to eat because of the smoke and smell. On to the beers: They have a lot of beers. That's about the only positive thing I can say. I ordered a Super Premium beer (one that I've had many times). Either the lines were dirty, the bar tender didn't clear the lines (see below) or the keg was off--it was bad. I mentioned this to the bartender--some guy came out of the back, tasted the beer, nodded and walked away. The bartender never did a thing. Eventually I flagged him down and asked him to dump my $7 beer and I'd order a different Super Premium beer. This one was better. They have a good selectiuon of bottles and taps but the staff seems either lost or confused about beer. I asked to taste a super premium beer and despite paying for two (with one bad one) they said NO. I asked to taste a regular beer (local Stegmeier Brewhouse Bock) and after making a funny face they gave me a gulp. The bar staff seems to be so terrified of the owner that they don't give samples. I also noted that they were afraid to spill or otherwise waste any beer. I watched many times as beer lines weren't cleared and beers were under poured. What a messed up place. I'll confirm the reviews below. This place is NOT a beer bar. They do NOT encourage beer lovers or help cultivate new beer lovers. If you like Miller Lite then this is your pace. If you expect this to be a real beer bar expect to be dissapointed. After two hours of torture and fighting to get bad service we gave up. Thankfully there are a few other choices now in that area so we spent our money elsewhere and you should too. Beer lovers----run away form the Arena.

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Photo of coalcracker
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Located minutes off of Route 81 in Wilkes-Barre, PA. This place should be a mecca for those looking for great foreign and micro brews that would be difficult to find elsewhere in this area. This establishment was previously known as Black Rock Grill (a microbrewery and restaurant) a few years back, but a change in ownership ensued. It is a clean, classy place with a nice bar and MANY great brews on tap. There is also a large seating area. The only knocks on 'atmosphere' would be the persistent clouds of cigarette smoke that waft from the bar to the tables. Parking is also a bit of a problem- the lot is small. Service is good, even when we arrived on a 'hockey night' (the local AHL team, the Penguins, are immensely popular!). The beer selection is incredible (perhaps hundreds, with a separate menu for the brews and brew specials daily. I have had my first tastes of obscure brews while here- not a common occurence in this region. The food was better-than-average. Bottom-line: If you a beer freak, get here! You won't find many places in NEPA with this kind of selection.

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Photo of Phatz
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

What a terrific place. I wish Lancaster had one of these! =) But my marriage is very happy that the Arena Bar And Grill is 2.5 hours from home. I met ClockworkOrange here last week (sorry it took so long for the review). My wife and I were in the area with kids and all in toe and we decided to stop anyway. I was extremely impressed with our server's kind attention to my 15 month old. She played and joked and even brought the kids there food in just minutes. At a bar and grill I have come to expect the condescension when you arrive for beer with babies. That was a big plus. Parking ... not such a plus. But beer is what we were there for and I'll tell you what, they do a damn good job. There is *lots* of selection. My only complaint is that the huge selection they have in not blow you away "how the hell did you get that" type of things, but there is enough selection to make it the destination in Wilkes Barre (until Elmer Suds re-opens ;-) The place is happening too. There is a lot of people and there are pool tables and there is a cigar lounge =) that is a big plus! If I lived closer... The food was decent. The menu has two price ranges. The sandwiches are reasonable and the entrée' are a bit more, but that is to be expected. the desert. Peanut butter pie, sensational. I highly recommend stopping by when you are in the area.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.13/5  rDev -17.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

The Arena Bar and Grill is one of my local beer bars. It is as much a sports bar as it is a beer bar. Lots of TV's visible from just about every seat. There is a nice cigar lounge off to the side complete with an in wall humidor, leather couches and projection TV. I can't recall ever getting an "off" beer here. Draft selection's change frequently with the seasons. I've only ever gotten snacks and appetizers at the new location, but used to eat dinner at the old location a few times a year. The food is above average for the area. Whether sitting at the bar or at a table our glasses were never empty for long. The big draw to this place is the selection of 50 taps and the bottle list in the 100's. Weekday happy hour is an absolutely great deal. Most of the drafts are $2. It's a great way to try something new as well as re-visit an old favorite at a good price. Hope this review was helpful. Cheers.

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Photo of number1bum
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Visited Arena Bar & Grill on a Sunday evening with my wife. It wasn't very busy, but it's a nice looking place with a pretty big bar area and lots of booths and high tables. Lots of menu choices with really good looking appetizers, some soups and salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, pizza and pasta and entrees (some fish, steak, chicken etc). I had a philly cheese steak wrap and my wife had an oriental chicken salad. The wrap was ok, nothing fantastic but the fries were hand cut and quite good. The salad was also a cut above the typical. We also shared a slice of peanut butter pie for dessert which was also better than expected (even lousy peanut butter pie is usually pretty good but this one was actually very good). Service was solid and the waitress even applied a buy one entree get one free coupon even though we didn't have one. Enough about the food though, the reason we really went there was for the beer. There were about 50 tap selections (I think it is 50 exactly according to their website), including a good variety of "basics" and then a nice variety of winter brews, some big beers and other various things. Pretty much whatever style you like there is something for you on the draft menu. In addition to the drafts there were probably 100ish bottle selections, including 20ish belgians. Drafts were mostly $4 and bottles started at $4 and went up from there. Pretty reasonable overall. They advertise their happy hour as having $2 drafts and appetizers (even $2 house wines for non-beer drinkers like my wife), which seems almost too good to be true. I will definitely come back for a happy hour sometime.

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Photo of beerpyr
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

My wife and I went to the Arena Bar and Grill on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre (close to WB Township) as a kickoff to summer. This establishment is just a mile or so off I-81 and close to the twelve-thousand seat sports arena hence it's name, The Arena. The original location (Scott Street) was a smaller space and had less parking spots. The new location on Coal Street was previously the Black Rock Brew Pub/Beer Bar.

Inside there is a definite corporate feel to the place. The ambience is slick and track lit. Seating is at the bar or at high-top tables. There are booths as well. Ten plus televisions will keep the monkey off any sports junkie's back. A cigar lounge is available away from the main dining area. And then there is the music which is blaring and raucous. Maybe I am just getting old.

Service is a bit above average especially if "Carl" is there to politely offer his favorites. Carl says the tap system is cleaned on a weekly basis. Service staff does not linger after cash has been tendered. They are a busy bunch!

I started the night with a dratf of Smuttynose Old Brown Dog. After having some good food, I finished with a draft of Sly Fox Ichor Quad (10%) and a Troublette (5.5%). And so, in total, there are Fifty (50) beers on draft including a cask conditioned selection. The aforementioned fifty break down as follows: Nine (9) are considered the "Basics", there are eleven "Super Premium" drafts, eight (8) of which are Belgians. The remainder of the fifty beers on draft are listed as "rotations". There are 122 bottles listed on the beer menu. The break down is as follows: 13 are "Big Beer Bottles" (as in size), 17 are the "New Arrivals", 26 are Belgian brews, 12 are from England, 8 are from Germany, and 6 are from various other countries. Add 39 bottles of micro brews and the total is 122, yes?

I should mention my wife had a Lindemans Pomme, a Houblon Chouffe and a La Rulles.

It was a good night out except for the crap music. I will go back especially for their happy hour specials. The Arena Bar and Grill is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. (P.S. I should mention that my other favorite place was flooded out and is closed, at least temporarily. The rain god has put the smack down on my beer drinking.)

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Photo of metman499
4.5/5  rDev +19%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I happen to really like going to the Arena Bar. It has a nice atmosphere. You can talk to the people next to you without having to shout over a band that is really just getting in the way. The waitstaff is very pleasant and they check in quite a bit just to make sure you never run out of beer. The appatizers are top quality and more than enough for two or three people. You can't beat their selection or their happy hour prices. Numerous small tv screens show whatever sports happen to be going on that night. All in all a great place to check out.

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Photo of cro250klr
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I used to frequent the old location of the Arena Bar and Grill. A lot. It was smaller and had more of an atmosphere like the places we visited while in Belgium. Dark wood, tight quarters, dimly lit. The bar was long, and two bartenders had a hard time passing each other while working behind it. To me, it reminded me of something built in the thirties or forties. My buddy Smith would play guitar on Sunday nights, and work on Mondays usually didn't happen. The place would be packed and it would get rather smokey. But, the entertainment and beer would negate that little quirk. At the time, I believe they had 28 beers on tap and a bit over a hundred in bottles. While the advertised total was 150, the usual BMC and such cut into that amount.

Times change. A local brew pub a few miles away went under leaving a vacant building and, I guess, the owners of the Arena thought it was time for a change also. They relocated to Coal St., and since then I've only been there once. The first two trys yeilded no parking. Yeah, I could have parked a few hundred yards away, in the Odessey gym lot or the bank lot. Most people do, since parking at the new location is at a premium. I would like to at least park in the lot, and on the third attempt that happened. In I go.

Whoa! Where's the dark wood? What's with the atmosphere? Too open and too light for me. The bar is now three sided. One side faces the taps. The other two, each other. This really isn't what I expected. The former 28 taps have grown to 50. Again, though, a lot of those 50 are the MBC offerings and the like. The beer selection is rotated quite often and the total remains at about 150. Prices are still reasonable, and you really don't need much more than the appetizers to sate your hunger. Alas it's not the same.

Bigger is not always better. Case in point, the new Arena location. The new Coal St. location, with Sam's Club, Odessey, Wegman's and the Wachovia Arena nearby, can be difficult to navigate. Couple that with the fact that you have a few beers in you, and a minor fender bender could turn into something worse. The new place is not as smokey as the old but that was a small price to pay. Less traffic, a more 'bar like' atmosphere and the 28 beers on tap were just fine for me.

If you were never to the old Arena you'd most likely take a liking to the new place. NEPA doesn't have many watering holes with as many offerings as the Arena. The River St. Ale House, Cooper's and Elmer Sudds are about it. And while it may seem that I'm being a bit critical, I just have fond memories of the 'old' Arena. Never the less, it is worth stopping in. Good beer, good food, at prices that won't break your wallet.

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Photo of dkepner
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I moved to the Northeast PA area about 6 months ago and discovered the Arena Bar shortly after I got here. In fact, I believe that it was shortly after they relocated to their current location.

As mentioned in the previous reviews, they have about 50 taps and an extensive bottle collection. They are not open Monday or Tuesday and don't open until 4pm Wednesday - Friday. They have happy hour Wed - Fri from 5 to 7 with most of the taps being $2! Most of these $2 taps are great micros with an occasional import. The macros mentioned in the previous review are only a handful of taps (less than 10). They have another handful of "premium" taps (5 or 6) that are not included in the happy hour price. Happy hour on Fridays gets very crowded, but Wednesday and Thursday seem to be less crowded. I haven't been there yet on a weekend, so I can't comment on weekend crowds or happy hours.

They have about 15 standard taps that have the same beer all year long. All the remaining taps rotate to whatever they have at the moment, so there is always something new to try. Currently they have about 10 to 15 winter warmers and barleywines on.

Most of the taps are served in pint glasses that they keep in a freezer (shame on them). I always make sure to order mine in a non-chilled glass and they are happy to comply. A few of the beers are served in specialty glasses, mostly the Belgian styles. These specialty glasses are never chilled.

The only food that I've ever tried there was their happy hour appetizers (also $2 each). Standard pub grub for the most part.

If you're in Wilkes Barre (or even passing by on Interstate 81) during their business hours, I recommend you stop in and check them out. Especially if it's during happy hour. $2 drafts of excellect micros and imports is unheard of around here.

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Arena Bar and Grill in Wilkes-Barre, PA
3.78 out of 5 based on 36 ratings.
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