The Highland Park Bowl – In Truth

Highland Park’s refurbished bowling alley is open, but will it break the bank?

Yes, you have all heard of this place. Everyone has a friend or two that has mentioned the refurbished bowling alley opening in Highland Park. How, it’s supposed to look cool on the inside, and it’s going to have a full bar, and did I mention how cool it’s going to look on the inside? But once The Highland Park Bowl opened on North Figueroa St., a new rumor swept across Highland Park like a shockwave: did you hear how expensive it was?

Highland Park Bowl 5
Photo Credit: LA Eater

I visited the alley to find out whether a middle-class girl on a budget, like me, stood a chance in such a swanky looking establishment. Or better yet, was the visit even worth the price?

Everyone knows the saying, “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about go read a book or watch a movie because that’s quoted in basically everything. So with that little lesson in mind, let’s talk about what’s in their kitchen. I walked into Highland Park Bowl and immediately noticed they had a wood-fired oven. This guarantees you two things: there is pizza, and the pizza is really good. This is how they have decided to make their pizza. For all you pizza-newbs that don’t know, using a wood-fired oven is the best way to make a pizza. Thus the perfect way to showcase the philosophy behind Highland Park Bowl: Highland Park Bowl doesn’t meet expectations, they exceed them.

To accompany my drool worthy pizza I ordered a Modern Washout; which is described by them as ‘A Mexican twist on the French martini.’  Talk about a multi-cultural meal: Italian, Mexican, and French.  Shut up and take my money!

Walking into Highland Park Bowl felt like you were walking into the bat cave. Or rather the start menu of a BioShock game. This place makes it look like James Bond secretly loved bowling more than women. Everything from the glowing hues of amber to the deep-seated leather couches to the haunting mirror hanging above the staircase made me instantly feel cool. Cool for being there. Cool for knowing about it. And cool to just be able to associate myself with it.


The ironic thing is, I think bowling is the least appealing activity to do EVER.  And now I feel like HPB has made it “hip”.  Watching people bowl inside Highland Park Bowl is equivalent to watching the hot girl at a party suddenly become attracted to a geek: under normal circumstances it would never happen, but now you think the geek is kind of hot too.


Alright, let’s get to the part you’re all dying to hear. The prices, what about the prices?! This is where it might feel like Highland Park Bowl doesn’t take too kindly to broke strangers. For 25 dollars, I was only able to afford one drink and a small pepperoni pizza. I admit I could have ordered a beer that was several bucks cheaper, but I wanted to feel fancy. Because that’s what you do when you walk into a joint that has more leather couches than a cigar lounge. You’ve got to buy into the experience a little.   And despite the fact that I had already capped my budget for the night so early on, I didn’t care. Highland Park Bowl hits it so hard on the head with their ambiance; it serves as the spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down. In the most delightful way.

The truth is, yes this place looks incredible and yes the target audience is directed at hipsters that can afford to drop a casual hundred bucks.  As unique of a bowling alley as this is (and the oldest in Los Angeles), its location leaves me wondering whether they took their locals into consideration.  I think the reason why many people are a bit put off by HPB is because it wasn’t tailored to the poverty stricken community it’s currently occupying.  Perplexed Highland Parkers – I hear you.  But doesn’t our hometown deserve nice things too?  Just  because Highland Park isn’t on the map for any attractions like Melrose or the Santa Monica Pier, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the best.  And I think Highland Park Bowl is trying to give us the best.

Before you rule out Highland Park Bowl because of its prices, I urge you to experience it for yourself. Whether you’re that one friend that hates bowling (like me) or you’re on a budget, there is still a place for you here.

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