The Six Best Twin Cities Bowling Alleys for Foodies

A handy guide to MSP's best bowling alleys for eating and drinking, and generally not going completely crazy during the polar vortex.

Beer bowling pins at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo: Bryant Lake Bowl
Okay, who’s going crazy? I’m going crazy. All polar vortexes and no play make Minnesota a dull place. And do the schools ever open? Our kids are getting all uneducated and wall-climby, and that's not good. What is good, though, is that Minneapolis-St. Paul is the undisputed world champion of having really good food/drink and sexy usually-vintage bowling alleys all in the same building.

And thanks to this nifty list, you can go to a new destination food/bowling spot every weekend until spring . . .  at which time you'll be complaining about floods. So, as the polar vortex rages on, refrain from killing your roomates, putting their severed heads on a pike, and charging with frothing mouth through the streets and go bowling instead.


6. Pinstripes
3849 Gallagher Dr., Edina, 952-835-6440, pinstripes.com

This Edina megaplex puts on a splashy $20 all-you-can-eat buffet on Sundays replete with chocolate fountain, waffle bar, roast beef carving station, and peel-and-eat shrimp, so if you like eating on cruiseships you'll like eating at Pinstripes. Kids eat for $12. And there’s bowling, which is kind of pricey, but has all these video screens everywhere, which leaves you feeling like you just spent the afternoon on a Carnival Cruise, which is better than going crazy in your house, I promise you. 


5. Elsie’s Restaurant, Bar & Bowling Center
729 NE Marshall St., Mpls., 612-378-9701, elsies.com

The only bowling alley with old school supperclub specialties such as beer battered walleye and a 23 ounce prime rib. Now that's perfect bowling food. I mean nobody eats 23 ounces of prime rib, drinks a brandy old fashioned, and then plays basketball. Plus they charge you a very fair $1.99 for a kid plate of buttered noodles. That’s the old school Nordeast hospitality I love.


4. Park Tavern
3401 Louisiana Ave. S., St. Louis Park, 952-929-6810, parktavern.net

I love the Park Tavern for its 1960s chic d├ęcor and the solid BBQ and wings. When you go it feels like you’ve dropped into a friendly neighborhood from 40 years ago, and that’s a good thing.


3. Bryant-Lake Bowl
810 W. Lake St., Mpls. 612-825-3737, bryantlakebowl.com

The best Belgian import beer selection in the state, a truly excellent wine list, scruptious locally-sourced meat and produce, and a 1930s Bowling Alley, in all its burnished wood glory. I consider the Bryant-Lake Bowl one of the great local monuments. So step back in time to the glorious past when all the food was from a local farmer and the bowling alley glowed maple gold.


2. Town Hall Lanes
5019 S. 34th St., Mpls., 612-767-3354, thlanes.com

The newest spot on this list has gorgeous early Art Moderne everything, with some extra tasteful chandeliers, a phenomenal tap list of both beers they brew themselves via their brewery, Town Hall, as well as guest taps, and some solidly good wings and bar food. But back to the aesthetics, it feels special to be there, and even more especially special with a pint of Masala Mama at your side. 


1. Ran-Ham Bowling at The Nook
490 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-698-0252

A bowling alley that's home to some of the best burgers in the state? Considering Ran-Ham is directly below The Nook, YES.   And, while I can’t say any more about The Nook’s legendary burgers than I have before (they’re meaty, beefy, cheesy, a little grill-charred in just the right way -- basically American perfection), I can say that Ran-Ham's alley is similary awesome. The underground, vestpocket lanes have a certain Sputnik-meets-the-glory-day-of-American-unions-and-cars-with-fins vibe to them. And, because you're probably saying, "I can't get into the Nook", trust me, you can. You just have to go at like 2 P.M. on a Thursday. But that'll be easy since school's always canceled these days anyhow.

Photos: Pinstripes, Elsie's, Park Tavern, Bryant-Lake Bowl, and Ran-Ham Facebook pages. Town Hall Lanes photo via Drew Wood/ Thrillist MSP.