What's old is now new: As of tomorrow, Highland Park Bowl will be open for business in the former Mr. T's Bowl space, a historic bowling alley that dates back to 1927 and more recently was known as a venue for local punk bands.
After a lengthy restoration process that spanned a year and a half, the 1933 Group — the cocktail bar collective whose properties include Bigfoot Lodge, Oldfield's Liquor Room, Thirsty Crow, Sassafras, La Cuevita and Idle Hour — is debuting its most ambitious and swanky project yet, a refurbished, eight-lane bowling alley complete with multiple bars, a dining area and a side room for live music. If you're a fan of historic preservation, vintage bowling equipment or a fine craft cocktail (try the riff on a white Russian called The Dude Abides), then the attention to historic detail at Highland Park Bowl will be a sight to behold.
The saga of what is now technically Los Angeles' oldest operating bowling alley began during Prohibition, when a “pharmacy” sold medicinal whiskey to bowlers. In the 1960s, the space became Mr. T's Bowl, transforming into a music venue that eventually fell into disrepair over the ensuing decades. By the 2000s, it was better known as a grungy concert spot for up-and-coming punk bands.
But with Highland Park's revitalization/gentrification well under way, 1933 Group owners Bobby Green, Dimitri Komarov and Dmitry Liberman stepped in for a massive overhaul. Ceilings were lifted to reveal the original bow truss architecture. Paint was stripped away to reveal a large forest mural on the back wall. Vintage pin machines were installed and repaired, and old banners and other memorabilia doubled as wall decorations.
Inside an open kitchen, you'll find a large, wood-fired oven turning out Neapolitan-style pizzas from chef Richie Lopez, topped with things like burrata, shaved prosciutto and roasted eggplant, as well as simple but hearty Italian-American dishes like meatballs, Caesar salads, chicken milanesa and sausage with white beans.
The craft cocktail program includes the aforementioned Big Lebowski–inspired cocktail, The Dude Abides, made with vodka, house-made coffee liqueur, horchata cream and cinnamon tincture; a tiki-tinged coconut and pineapple cocktail called the Fuzzyland; and a bubbly punch made with honeydew gin, lime and cucumber-thyme soda called the Belle of the Bowl. You'll also find old-fashioneds and Moscow Mules on draft, along with a wide selection of local craft beers.
If you're interested in bowling, the lanes will rent for $40 to $60 per hour for a group, depending on what time of night you decide to roll.
Highland Park Bowl, 5621 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; (323) 257-2695, 1933group.com.