Open from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and till 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch menu Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Step at front door makes wheelchair access difficult. Credit cards accepted. Reservations for backroom birthday parties advised. Parking difficult.

We went to Gunchers one evening recently to look it over as a potential site for out 11-year-old's birthday party. Since Gunchers is located on Georgetown's night life strip, we weren't sure that the atmosphere would be suitable for children, but its pin ball machines and penny arcade games presented party possibilities.

We arrived at 6:30 and found the place almost empty. The only other customers we saw were two families with toddler. Our children were off and running to the machines and games before we chose a table.

The big pinball and video play machines, at 25 cents a piece, are in the back of Gunchers while along the sides and down the middle are old fashioned penny and nickel games and a mechanical fortune-telling grandmoter. The old-time flavor is enchanced by red-checked tablecloths, flowers on every table and bentwood chairs.

We chose a table near the big front window and enjoyed the view of Rosslyn and a quiet drink, at $1.15 for wine and $1.15 for a stein of draft beer. Our children were so busy feeding nickels and pennies into the Kicker and Catcher, Personality Tester and Strength Tester that when their dinners arrived, our daughter announced that she really like Gunchers "because you don't have to wait a long time for your food."

Our son had ordered a cheeseburger, $2.80, and small salad, 75 cents; our daughter, spaghetti and meatballs at $3.50; my husband, eggs benedict at $3.50, and I had the hamburger with cheese and bacon at $3.10, and a spinach and mushroom salad. The salad was listed on the menu at $1.50, but our waiter suggested smaller version at $1 (unlisted) since I was having a sandwich at well. It was good advice.

We all liked what we ordered. The spaghetti was served piping hot and came with a salad and half a loaf of hot buttered Italian bread. The hamburgers had been ordered rare and were prepared that way. They were accompanied by French fries, tomato, picle and lettuce.

No one was hungry for desert, which was limited to apple pie at 95 cents and cheesecake at $1.25, but our children went off to try their hand at the Wizzard and Crane games while we had our coffee, 30 cents. Our total bill for four, including drinks and tax, came to $21.90. Our children spent $1 each on the games.

While our children used up their last pennies we talked to the woman at the next table who turned out to be the owner's mother. She told us that birthday parties of 20 or more could have the back room to themselves, that Gunchers would change dollars bills to the necessary quarters and dimes, and that Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the most popular family times. The Guncher menu from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday features Belgian and other waffles at $2.75 to $3.95.

With so many penny machines to keep children busy and with pizza ($3.95 for a large plain), we though it wouldn't be too expensive to come back for an early evening birthday party. The owner's mother assured us that families would feel comfortable at Gunchers until about 9 p.m., when more of a drinking crowd showed up.

Gunchers, 3403 M Street NW; 965-5065. Open from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and till 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch menu Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Step at front door makes wheelchair access difficult. Credit cards accepted. Reservations for backroom birthday parties advised. Parking difficult.