Bowlero is not your dad's bowling alley. It's like a Dave & Buster's remodeled by Tim League's (of Alamo Drafthouse fame) apprentice, a warehouse with massive television sets, a ropes course and spiked milkshakes. More on those shakes in a minute.
Although Bowlero lays claim to 48 lanes, the place is more nightclub than bowling alley. When I stepped through the doors my senses were attacked by a blaring Top 40 playlist and brazenly retro interior design scheme. Don't get me wrong: you can definitely get your bowling fix here and their prices are reasonable. At $3-$8 a person (depending on what day of the week and what time of day you choose to hit the lanes) Bowlero is priced competitively with other bowling destinations in the San Antonio area—just be ready for a soundtrack dominated by the likes of Drake and One Direction.
Regardless of Bowlero's nightclub vibe and insistence on Top 40 hits, their patrons were diverse and included middle-aged dudes donning Hawaiian shirts, young couples and little kids utilizing the bumper lanes. It's weird seeing a child walk up to the bar at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday, by the way. I overheard the bartender say they began kicking the children out after 10 p.m. and I wish I'd been present to witness that practice.
It's not hard to see why children enjoy Bowlero—the nightclub-meets-bowling alley has a smorgasbord of games to choose from. I purchased a $10 card and went straight for their claw crane game. As I stared the incarcerated stuffed animals down and deliberated where to place my claw, I noticed a small child hovering 15 feet in the air above me. I looked to my left and saw a father with his neck bent toward the ceiling, watching his child's every step, waiting to catch her if something went awry. He looked as if he had made a grave mistake. She was walking Bowlero's ropes course and was safely secured to a bungee system. Call me old school—but, damn, I have never seen such a thing. A bowling alley/nightclub with a ropes course?
About those milkshakes: Should I regret passing on the Naughty By Berry, a milkshake with Stoli vodka, vanilla ice cream, raspberry syrup and whipped cream? Maybe I'm a party-pooper (Editor's Note: or maybe our writer doesn't have much of a sweet tooth?), but a bar that serves boozy milkshakes is asking for trouble and I want none of it. I assure you a naughty shake was the last thing I needed after two strong Whiskey Businesses, Bowlero's take on an Old Fashioned, with Rebecca Creek whiskey, Grand Marnier and Angostura bitters.
Next time I'll bring four of my closest friends and we'll split the Dunk Tank. Priced at a whopping $29 a pop, Bowlero requires you split this beast with your buds. I imagine very bad things will happen if you tried to take it on solo, so listen to them—please. The drink is made with rum, amaretto, pomegranate syrup, orange and pineapple juices, and bedazzled with crazy straws, which left me with an uncontrollable urge to conquer it.
By the way, I applaud the bartenders at Bowlero. Service was fast and friendly, and the drinks were strong and delicious. If I was only reviewing the service at Bowlero, the place would get a perfect score.
After the whiskey entered my blood stream I opted for something fried. You might need a translator to decipher their menu options. The Holla-Peños and Frickles (Bowlero-speak for fried pickles and jalapeños) did the trick. The snack is simple bar food, but that's all fried pickles and jalapeños need to be. I don't need anything special—just give me hot pickles fried like chips and I'll be all right.
I ordered the Electric Sliders next. These mini bacon cheeseburgers had a cutesy name and a precious size, but the flavor was nonexistent. At a $6.99 price tag, two mini burgers with no flavor won't cut it.
There are circumstances in which Bowlero could be very fun, and very dangerous (in a good way), and I recommend you try it. Just keep the drunks away from the spiked milkshakes and your kiddos safely harnessed.
Bowlero, 13307 San Pedro, (210) 496-3811, bowlero.com