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Bowling lanes at Highland Park Bowl in Highland Park, California.
Highland Park Bowl
Wonho Frank Lee

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Highland Park Bowl Is a Stunning Masterwork of Preservation

Opening this week, bowling balls and all

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Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Los Angeles does not always have the best track record when it comes to revitalizing its own historical spaces, which makes the return of Highland Park Bowl all the more amazing. The longtime bowling alley on Figueroa actually dates to 1927 during Prohibition, but like many other recreational structures at the time carried a secret history of partying. Over the years, the building moved on to became more of a music venue and punk rock hang than anything else, eventually taking on the name Mr. T’s Bowl and abandoning its own history altogether. That's where the 1933 Group comes in.

Thankfully, the ambitious nightlife group arrived on the scene in time to return the place to its old glory. It’s something they've become wonderfully adept at, particularly with iconic spaces like Idle Hour in North Hollywood. The plan for Highland Park Bowl has always been to preserve, preserve, persevere, right down to the original wooden arches and eight-lane playable bowling alley.

There was lots of source material on site to pull from — from the original pin machines to the wooden finishes that line the entire facility. Almost anything of worth that couldn’t be put back into its original use has been repurposed here, from old bowling league pennants to sawed-off pins that double as bar lamps. The result, when combined with the long leather couches, horseshoe bar, and bottles of whiskey stuck in chicken wire cages, is a thorough throwback to a different era, where a night of fun meant a few glasses of whiskey and a frame or two.

A thorough throwback to a different era

You’ll find plenty to discover for yourself inside Highland Park Bowl, as the 1933 Group continues to roll out mini-concepts within the larger structure. There will be a listening area called Mr. T’s Room in the former record store space and a planned microbrewery to arrive by next year, not to mention the existing drink and food programs. Chef Richie Lopez is overseeing the menu (seen below), which includes true Neapolitan-style pizzas and other casual Italian fare, while the bar — the true bread and butter of any 1933 Group establishment — will throw back to classic cocktails done with a modern twist. There will also be old fashioneds and moscow mules on tap for anyone who likes to keep things truly classic.

Highland Park Bowl opens this Friday, keeping hours from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday (the kitchen closes at midnight), and from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends. Bowling prices vary depending on the day, but start at $40 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the week, and rise to $60 from 8 p.m. to close on Saturday nights. Lane prices are good for one hour, and each lane holds six bowlers.

Highland Park Bowl, 5621 N. Figueroa, Highland Park.

Wonho Frank Lee

The view from above

Beyond the lanes

Wonho Frank Lee

The bar

The dining area

Pizza oven

Highland Park Bowl- Menu

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