So, you think you know Portland? If you consider yourself an insider when it comes to all the cool places to eat, explore and play, you’ll want to add Punch Bowl Social to your hidden gem list (if you haven’t already). With vintage arcade games to bowling lanes to private karaoke rooms, this destination offers fun for everyone in your family. Never heard of it? Read on for our insider’s take on this must-visit indoor gem.
photo: Marianne Walters
This isn’t your typical bowling alley. Tucked throughout the venue are bowling lanes in groups of four that are separated from the bar and restaurant areas so you don’t feel like you’re in one massive room with bowlers of all ages and abilities. With comfy couches for lounging between turns and high tables for snacks and drinks, the whole gang could easily spend the entire afternoon in one spot.
Insider tip: Rent all four lanes and it will feel like a private bowling party.
Shoe rentals are always $3.50 per person but bowling prices vary depending on the day of the week and time of day. Games are charged per person, per hour and range from $2 to $7, so call ahead to reserve your lanes and check prices for your visit.
Insider tip: Bumpers are available and so are ramps for the youngest bowlers, so just make the request when you arrive.
The treat is in the name: the punch bowls can’t be beat. There are a variety of adult punch bowls on the menu (serving 1, 4 or 8 people) but the staff can easily serve up a delicious punch bowl for kids with fruit juices and a bit of sparkling soda that will be a definite crowd pleaser. Sodas are made in-house, as is virtually everything else on the menu, and the options will suit everyone from your pickiest toddler to your budding Portland foodie.
Kids looking for familiar foods will love the children’s menu items like fresh fruit skewers and grilled cheese (mozzarella on ciabatta, delish). The likely favorite for most, though, will be the chocolate chip malted waffle, complete with maple syrup and bacon. Breakfast foods are served all day. Parents will want to try the Hipster Chicken, Cubano Sandwich and the Farmer’s Board for the vegetarians. Most items can be made gluten-free, too.
Let’s Play & Sing
Parents longing to teach their offspring the joys of the original arcade games will love the selection here. Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger and Return of the Jedi are just a few in the line-up, and the 4-player Pac-Man table will spark an intense tournament once you get started. With skee-ball, foosball and ping pong on hand, it will be hard to choose what to play next. All arcade games are coin-operated, but an ATM and change machine are available if you need them. Ping pong tables can be rented for $10/hour.
If your group is musically-minded, private karaoke rooms are the way to go. There are plenty of song choices for all ages, from the Disney and Pixar crowd to the Beatles and the 80s hair bands in between. Karaoke rooms can fit a maximum of 10 people and, like bowling, the rental fees vary according to the weekday and time of day, so call ahead for the rates if you’re planning your visit.
photo: Marianne Walters
With plenty to do, Punch Bowl Social is an obvious choice for an indoor birthday party. Although it seems large, most of the activities are right next to each other so it would be remarkably easy to keep the kiddos contained to just a few areas.
Insider tip: we recommend birthday parties here for the older crowd, aged 10 and up, so they can be free to roam from one activity to another without a need for constant parental supervision.
Rather than offering pricey birthday party packages, the folks at Punch Bowl Social welcome you to create your own experience. Get in touch with their events staff, let them know what you would like to include and they’ll walk you through the reservation process. Most events will include a food and drink minimum in order to reserve a space, but they do not include a reservation fee, so you can expect to pay just for the food, drinks and your chosen activities.
Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Fri., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sat., 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
Sun., 10 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
All ages welcome before 10 p.m. each day (21 and older from 10 p.m.-close)
340 SW Morrison St. (Pioneer Place, 3rd level)
Have you taken your crew to Punch Bowl Social? Let us know in the comments below!
— Marianne Walters