This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on July 27, 2019.
From vintage arcades and bowling to karaoke and virtual reality, Punch Bowl Social is the Domain’s best place for some ’80s flashback with a millennial twist and a really rad time.
Punch Bowl Social has an eclectic approach to the concept of eat-entertainment. With a growing number of sites across the country, including Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth, they pride themselves on being the place for people to come and be themselves; and on making it possible for the inner child in all of us to come out and play.
Each restaurant is catered to and designed specifically for that local market. Austin’s Domain location has all-out Texas decor they call ‘dirty modern,’ complete with deer mounts on the walls (one’s name is Daniel), antler chandeliers, a Holiday Lounge with a mantle and fireplace, and a replica of one of the city’s favorite landmarks, the “I love you so much” graffiti wall.
My daughter and I popped in on a Monday afternoon and were immediately impressed with the 20,000 square feet of oversized entertainment. We were given the grand tour of the different karaoke rooms and awesome arcades that the ’80s generation had enjoyed. You’ll find Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, Galaga, Candyland and Sorry board games, shuffleboard, a life-size Scrabble game, and skeeball. There’s virtual reality, foosball, ping pong and bowling lanes. Everything an adult kid can ever want!
With a place this impressive and entertaining, you might expect the quality of food to take a backseat, right? Nope! The food is just as excellent as the atmosphere.
We couldn’t wait to try the food, which changes by the season, we were told. First up: the new shareable Umami Bomb Chips and Dip made with charred onion, sour cream, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, anchovy, celery sticks and sea salt kettle chips that tasted a little like heaven. For our entrees, we split the Shrimp Burger and Falafel Burger that oozed with hummus, tomato confit, pickled cabbage and tzatziki. Plus, there’s rosemary fries. Need we say more?
After stuffing our bellies, we headed off to the selfie station to have a mother/daughter moment. I could hear the AC/DC pinball machine blazing their classic tunes while we cheesily smiled into the selfie cam.
I tried Punch Bowl Social’s Fresh Strawberry Daiquiri made with Cruzan aged rum, strawberry syrup and fresh lime juice, although I only had a few sips since I was driving. But they were very tasty sips. Punch Bowl Social has an extensive bar menu including the Edith and Ricky, made with vodka steeped with bergamot and hibiscus tea, creme de violette, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling water. For larger groups, the ‘punch’ that Punch Bowl Social prides itself on features beverages we loved as kids, but here they’re all made for adults. The Watermelon Punch Bowl is filled with sauza blue reposado tequila, Teakoe’s watermelon spearmint tea, McClary Bro’s watermelon shrub, house-made strawberry syrup and fresh lime juice. These cocktails are delightfully refreshing and perfect complements to the menu items.
Punch Bowl Social is a fun place to hang out with your kids but an even better place to go with a group of friends. Gaming the night away at Punch Bowl Social is not complete until a pitstop is made to one of the karaoke rooms for a concert performance. Don’t worry, it’s soundproof, so you won’t draw attention to yourself by annoying the other patrons.
I found Punch Bowl Social to be an authentic, out-of-the-ordinary dining and entertainment experience where adults have permission to be kids again while surrounded by a delectable collection of music, food, beverages and games and where we can recapture our childhoods, however briefly.