Punch Bowl Social – review

A disappointing bar/restaurant with bowling, karaoke, and other games.

Austin isn’t a perfect place. The three most common complaints I hear about Austin is that it’s overcrowded, pretentious, and expensive. While I’m not sure I’d agree with any of those adjectives for the city as a whole, they do describe Punch Bowl Social pretty well.

Punch Bowl Social is a full-service bar and restaurant with ping-pong tables, two karaoke rooms, shuffleboard, arcade games, Skee Ball, and eight bowling lanes. It’s a massive establishment spanning 21,000 square feet in the Domain.(If you were thinking “Hey, that sounds familiar!”– yes, it’s basically a larger, worse version of the Highball/Goodnight.)

Punch Bowl Social
Let’s get to some specific grievances. First, the food isn’t very good. The first time we went to Punch Bowl Social, we tried the chipotle turkey burger and the mac n’ cheese. Both were mediocre. The macaroni contained both peas and kale, which made me feel like I was seven years old and my mom was trying to trick me into eating vegetables.

Here’s Punch Bowl Social’s food mission statement:

Punch Bowl Social
Umm… what? I’ve read it several times and I have absolutely no idea what that’s supposed to mean. They’re bringing meaning back to the basic concept of food consumption? Was it lost? Have we all been eating food wrong THIS WHOLE TIME?

Calm down, Punch Bowl Social. You sell chicken wings to drunk people. You aren’t starting a culinary revolution.

Punch Bowl Social
The second time I went to Punch Bowl Social was for a work happy hour. I ordered the cauliflower nachos because I was curious how they’d taste. After 30 minutes, I asked the waitress if she had put in the order. She assured me she had. After 30 more agonizing minutes, I had to leave empty-stomached.

You do NOT promise a person nachos and then not deliver! That’s just about the cruelest thing I can imagine. I might need therapy for my newfound trust issues.

The main problem with Punch Bowl Social is that it’s too big and poorly organized. I felt so sorry for the waitstaff, who were constantly sprinting around looking stressed out.

If I had to describe it in one word, it would be “contrived”. It’s trying way too hard. It’s like someone made a list of all the things that hip 20-somethings like and tried to shove them into one huge building.

Punch Bowl Social

Don’t bother with Punch Bowl Social. If you want bowling, go to Dart Bowl. If you want arcade games, go to Pinballz. If you want ping-pong, go to the Austin Table Tennis Club. If you want to play pool, go to Slick Willie’s or The Grand. If you want karaoke, go to Austin Karaoke.

Punch Bowl Social Website