The creators of the Alamo Drafthouse weren't content to stick to their dinner-and-a-movie operation. So they came up with The Highball, a bar and diner and music venue and bowling/skee-ball alley and karaoke place.
The great thing about The Highball is that it's packed with entertainment options. The downside is that it's also packed. On weekend nights, expect a lengthy wait for tables in the lounge or bowling lanes. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Where: 1142 S. Lamar Boulevard
When: Monday-Friday 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Ages: 18+; 21+ after 10pm; private karaoke rooms are 21+
Bowling and Skee-ball
Located in a former Salvation Army thrift store, The Highball's decor channels mid-20th-century Vegas with its Sputnik chandeliers, tufted upholstery and retro ambiance (much like The Belmont on West Sixth Street). If "Mad Men's" Don Draper bowled, it would be here.
Part of the reason for the bowling area's old-school feel is because the owners purchased the contents of New Orleans' legendary Rock and Bowl when it left its original location. The manual scoring tables, pinsetters, ball returns and even the lanes themselves are 1959 originals that were restored to give them new life in a new town.
Single lanes are first come first serve all week, though The Highball does accept reservations up to 30 days in advance for no more than 4 lanes (with a maximum of 6 players per lane). Rates vary from $20 to $30 an hour, depending on the time of day and the day of the week. And unless you have your own bowling shoes, renting a pair costs $3.
Up in the front corner, The Highball set up a bank of vintage skee-ball machines. The tickets can be redeemed for prizes -- some vintage, some new -- such as candy and Highball merchandise like glasses and flasks.
Karaoke, Music and Events
The Highball's seven private rooms karaoke rooms have themes ranging from country to old school hip hop and everything in between. But don't worry if you're not into heavy metal, for example, because each room features a comprehensive selection of songs from all genres. Hourly rates (from $20 to $35) vary by the size of the room; the smallest can hold eight people and the largest has space for 24. The karaoke rooms are ideal for parties and group outings because they have a switch on the wall that allows you to call an assigned server and place orders for food and beverages, bypassing the wait you'd find in other parts of the venue.
From jazz brunch to shows by popular local entertainers -- like Dale Watson -- you'll find it at some point at The Highball, which also hosts various special events and shows. And Wednesday evenings are reserved for the Geeks Who Drink trivia contest.
Food, Drink and Happy Hours
Executive chef Trish Eichelberger created a upscale diner menu of American cuisine that includes a number of locally procured ingredients. Think of it as high-class comfort food. Some Texas-themed favorites on the menu include the Dr Pepper pork ribs with a crushed peanut crust ($12; the Texas Gulf shrimp plate with jalapeño tartar sauce ($15); and Dewberry Hills fried chicken ($15), described as a "fresh local yard bird" cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
The Highball has a full bar and a long list of specialty and seasonal cocktails, beer, liquor and wine. Bar manager Ryan Shibi has concocted a line of signature drinks -- described as either re-imagined classics or modern creations -- that don't skimp on flavor or alcohol. So what's a must-drink at a bowling-alley bar? Try the 10 Pin ($10), a blend of cucumber-infused gin, strawberry and fresh basil, with a smoked salt rim.
And, of course, the bar has nightly specials, including (but not limited to) Martini Mondays ($2 off), Tequila Tuesdays ($5 margaritas) and Texas Thursdays ($2.50 local pints).
The Highball's happy hour runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and also has a reverse happy hour from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday. During the appointed festive times, patrons get free karaoke in a private rooms or bowling for $20 an hour as well as $2 Lone Stars, $2 pints or $4 well drinks.