Dinner Plan: Highland Park Bowl

Why Highland Park is L.A.’s best new adult playground

May 10, 2016 9:00 am

From the driving, to the parking, to the not knowing where to drive or park, dinner in L.A. is harder than it should be. That’s why we created Dinner Plan — your itinerary to a damn good time.

“Man, east of the 405? Shit, I never go east of Lincoln.”

So quoth one Venice amigo of mine some time ago.

I’ve got nothing but pity for that fool, and any other fool who limits their experience to one hood: to stay put in L.A. is to miss many killer to-dos.

Case in point: Highland Park Bowl, a new bowling alley in an old bowling alley (our city’s first, actually) from the guys who made Big Foot Lounge, Harlowe and The Thirsty Crow.

There’ s a lot to see and do over there, so we made it a Dinner Plan that includes where to shop for Mad Men-esque furniture and some rare vinyl finds.

You’re Gonna Need More Wax!

There are four top-notch vinyl merchants in Highland Park:

  • Mount Analog: The U.S. outpost of British label Finders Keepers Records and a stockist of rare European recordings
  • Permanent Records: Wide array of deep cuts, rare finds and emerging local artists
  • Gimme Gimme Records: Smaller, well-edited selection of vinyl in great condition
  • Wombleton Records: Smallest of the bunch, but where you go for the classics

Home Improvement

The purveyors at Shop Class scour all 50 states for garage sales, estate sales and eBay sales, hunting for those underappreciated post-war contemporary pieces they restore in house.

F*** It, Let’s Go Bowl

Enter Highland Park Bowl, L.A.’s first bowling alley, which has been masterfully reupholstered by the 1933 Group (Oldfields, Big Foot Lounge, Harlowe). We reported on its restoration a few months ago, and the completed product is worth the hype.

Here’s how it works:

Reservations are first-come, first-serve, so go early unless you’re with a massive party.

The bar on the right is called Mr. T’s Music Room. It was a music store and speakeasy during the days of Prohibition. Now bands play in there. There’s a bar and plenty of seating. Cocktails come with names that are nods to The Big Lebowski (a white russian called The Dude Abides) and Kingpin (Handsome Not Handless).

Next down the hall is a pizza kitchen, where Chef Richie Lopez and Master Pizzaiolo Chef Marco Aromatario cook Neapolitan pies in massive Italian ovens. These are doughy, a little burnt and loaded with fresh ingredients. On the left of this massive hallway is a still-in-vitro brewery, which should open next year.

Now you’re in the bowling hall. Two horseshoe bars flank the walls and a catwalk spans the left wall above the lanes, with banquettes so diners can watch the action. The eight lanes come with long rustic leather couches and swanky shoes.

Nota bene: the 1933 Group found a supply of vintage bottles of booze while renovating, and they intend to host some drinking parties with them. Follow them on social to hear those details.


La Cuevita, another 1933 bar, is just down the street. It’s a divey Mexican bar with solid cocktails. Or try our previous Dinner Plan, for York Blvd.

Photos courtesy of Frank Lee and the 1933 Group.


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