Bowling alley food in general has a bit of a reputation. For me, it usually falls into that sweet spot where awesome meets disgusting. It’s salty burgers, fries that are somehow over-crisped and soggy at the same time and light beer in bowling-pin-shaped bottles. You can’t help but love it and hate it all at once. But one chain of bowling alleys is redefining the bowling culinary experience — or maybe it’s more accurate to say they’ve created a bowling culinary experience where previously we had none.
Bowlmor, which has locations around the U.S., was founded in 1938 in New York, did brisk business through the bowling boom of the ’70s and ’80s and barely made it through the ’90s, when Tom Shannon, an entrepreneur with a vision, took over and implemented game-changing ideas that made the business take off again, eventually merging with some of the industry’s biggest names, like AMF and Brunswick.
One of the big changes, as mentioned, was the idea that the food and drink selection at a bowling alley doesn’t necessarily have to be all about microwaved tater tots and overdone corn dogs (though, again, I have a soft spot in my stomach for the sorts of foods that grease up your fingers just right when you’re trying to make a comeback in the eighth frame). Bowlmor’s menus include all kinds of amazing-sounding gourmet foodie options that don’t feel too ostentatious for the bowling alley setting. Let’s have a look at a few of their selections that we are dying to try:
Just look at that thing. One of Bowlmor’s great ideas was to improve upon some of our favorite foods with giant, gourmet, shareable portions. More to come below, but this pizza cake definitely has what it takes.
And if you’re more of a cupcake fan, they’ve got you covered there as well. I, for one, am in favor of a pizza version of every dessert.
Bowlmor’s selection of wings is nothing short of comprehensive, with something for everyone: classic buffalo, garlic parmesan, cajun, sweet chili, lemon pepper, honey BBQ and mango chipotle.
There are many things in the running to be declared the modern equivalent of breaking bread, but my vote’s on sharing a burger, and what better way to do it than with this monster, which you can share with several friends without sacrificing a full serving. And hey, if you’re feeling especially ambitious and hungry, take it on solo — we’re not here to judge.
2-Foot Hot Dogs
Ditto for Bowlmor’s monster dogs, which take the classic footlong and double it. These come in two flavors: The Coney Mega Dog, which comes topped with mustard, Coney sauce, and onions and is beautiful in its simplicity. They also serve up the Chi-Town Mega Dog (pictured above) topped with peppers, onions, pickles, tomatoes, neon relish, and mustard.
The Breakfast for Dinner Burger
Putting a fried egg on a burger is a delicious move, but it’s nothing new. Bowlmor’s version, however, has sausage, bacon, hashbrowns, and maple ketchup on it. They’re not messing around. Breakfast for dinner never sounded so good.
And last but certainly not least, Bowlmor’s gourmet selections include a range of house cocktails that sound like a dangerously good time. A couple highlights: The Madhattan is described as a cross between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan that’s made with whiskey, Cointreau, sweet vermouth, and bitters and is served in a cocktail glass. The Liquid Courage is gin, lemonade, club soda, and elderflower liqueur. Who knows? It might just help you land that strike.
Overall, Bowlmor sounds like a place I’d stop for dinner that happens to have great bowling and games. Go for the food or the fun, but stay for both.