Walking into Punch Bowl Social for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. The unique combination of a trendy gastropub, retro arcade, Ping-Pong lounge, karaoke bar and bowling alley all under one roof was one previously exclusive to Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas. Until December 10, when Detroit became the fourth location in the country to house one of these entertainment meccas. And after taking one look, I was blown away!
Punch Bowl Social captures a unique niche that was previously missing in Detroit. It bridges the gap between a sporting event and a Coney dog, and a night at the theater and a fancy dinner. It will act as a neighborhood hangout for Detroiters and a downtown destination for suburbanites. People of all ages may come to Detroit for “this event” or “that restaurant,” but they’ll stay in Detroit for Punch Bowl Social. After all, where in Detroit can you dine in a trendy atmosphere with quality food that won’t break the bank, lace up your bowling shoes and bust out your karaoke voice, or enjoy drinks with friends at a bar that is neither too upscale nor a rundown hole-in-the-wall? Punch Bowl Social fills this need downtown, making it the ideal spot for pre- or post- sporting event hang-outs, birthday parties and office gatherings, or a fun night out.
The traditional “wood cabin” feel of a Punch Bowl Social gets a slight urban twist with multiple sections, levels, bars and seating areas in which to be entertained, eat and drink.
I was fortunate enough to visit four times in the restaurant’s first week — attending a media preview, the official grand opening, a holiday party, and drinks with friends. During the media preview, I toured the entire space, which can hold up to 1,020 people. I learned about the subtle details and nuances that make Punch Bowl Social truly special, like the antler chandelier, the “Kiss Me” bench, and the retro refrigerator. I marveled at resident mixologist Patrick Williams’ cocktail crafting skills, and was impressed by the highly sophisticated drink menu, something you don’t often see at bars with pinball machines. Punch Bowl Social also prides itself on its culinary chops and extensive menu with everything from customizable cast-iron-cooked burgers to chicken and waffles. They also have great vegan and gluten-free options, and even a full breakfast menu (another rarity for a bar).
The grand opening party was a wild success, the line to get in was wrapped around the block. Party-goers enjoyed live music, sampled some menu highlights, and sipped signature drinks out of mason jars. Two nights later, I was back again for a holiday party – proof that Punch Bowl Social is the ultimate venue for any type of event. The following night, after dinner with some friends downtown, instead of heading back the suburbs, we stayed and played games and enjoyed a bowl of punch. My Detroit tourists soaked in the high-energy atmosphere and couldn’t get over how lively the city was on a random Saturday night in mid-December.
According to the website, Punch Bowl Social is not just a “bar that happens to have incredible food,” or “a bowling alley that happens to have great drinks,” or “an arcade and ping-pong lounge that happens to whip up a mean breakfast,” it is a true hybrid of “’old school’ entertainment, culinary refinement and a modern beverage program.” Punch Bowl Social will change the way people socialize in Detroit and thus be a part of its revitalization. Try it; you’ll be bowled over, too!
Punch Bowl Social is located at 1331 Broadway in downtown Detroit. Parking is conveniently located nearby on the street and in the Z garage. Hours are Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. For more information, go to PunchBowlSocial.com or call (313) 749-9738.