Fierce Bowling Competition at Punch Bowl Social
One recent Saturday morning, I met up with my good friends Hallie and Jamie for a quiet time of contemplation and clothes folding at a retro laundromat in Chicago's West Loop district.
What looks like a colorful wall of dryers is actually a clever façade at Punch Bowl Social, the hottest bowling alley / arcade / karaoke / pool hall / bar and restaurant in the city.
Well, I don't actually know if it's the most popular, but this place sure impressed us when we were looking for a way to kill time before our high tea appointment at the Palm Court Tea Room.
What better (and weirder?) way to spend the early morning hours when the weather is cold and rainy? That's right, bowling!
It's true, bowlers typically play at night in a dark, smoke-filled alley that caters to children's' birthday parties and sells florescent nachos. But Punch Bowl Social takes the experience up a notch at their expansive second-floor establishment.
The huge facility serves gourmet appetizers and a spicy Bloody Mary bar, just a few of their elevated offerings to change the way people think about this unusual sport.
Plus, their easy to put on shoes are Velcro instead of lace-up, which is like, duh! Why didn't we think of that sooner?
My brunchtime bowling buddies, Hallie and Jamie.
Would you rather bowl in the standard format with the goal of reaching a perfect 300 score, or play silly games that resemble Instagram filters? We chose the latter.
The record-keeping computer offered several mini-game options like this, and because none of us were feeling particularly competitive that day, striving for the best wig and glasses combo seemed like a better goal.
How's my bowling stance? Got any tips for me?
When it came to good form, Jamie beat us all!
Bam, right down the center.
And here's the lovely Hallie with red highlights in her hair from the neon red chandelier. We had fun taking these impromptu headshots with the interesting lighting.
I'm pretty sure Hallie was the only one to get a strike the whole game. Nice going Hallie!
How's my stance now, any better??
When we all bowled a round backwards granny-style like this, we actually scored much better, less gutter balls. We also tried rolling with our less-dominant hands, but I quickly gave up that strategy when my ball errantly flew into the neighbor's lane with a loud crash. Oops.
Punch Bowl Social is located in the Fulton Market area, a hip entertainment and restaurant hub that used to be a warehouse district.
After bowling, we walked across this plaza to The Publican for ricotta toast with vinaigrette radicchio on top.
I can't get over how cool this round bar is. Warehouse vibes meet speakeasy.
All the funky chandeliers added extra retro flare to the decor.
Lots of comfortable seating to relax and play Jenga in front of the fireplace.
The retro furniture everywhere gave this place such a cool vibe.
A giant Scrabble board, in case you want to get word nerdy.
Here's that make-your-own Bloody Mary bar I mentioned! Every detail is thoughtful here, including the vintage books and suitcases behind the condiments.
Have you ever played this Hook and Ring game before, also known as Ring the Bull? It's super simple, but not easy. Swing the ring on the string toward the hook on the wall and every time it catches the hook and stays, you get a point.
Remember to charge your phone before you leave on this bicycle charging station. The more you pedal, the greater the charge!
So, what do you think? Are we crazy for bowling at 10am on a Saturday or would you do the same? If you're craving more Chicagoland adventure, read about some other fun things we've done recently: