We pushed into Punch Bowl Social, on the edge of Deep Ellum, and were met with a loud whoop of celebration. A blond woman had just defeated her shorts-clad guy friend in a foosball match. She strode triumphantly off into the winding maze of entertainment options, and my friend and I slid into seats at the bar. We reviewed the options: plenty of cocktails and alcoholic punches. And then, suddenly, my face was wet.
The bartender had begun to mix the “featured punch” for two women with Kansas driver’s licenses, when the equipment somehow spritzed the nearby patrons, including us. Quick to make amends, he offered us complimentary drinks. Things were off to a good start.
Drinks in hand, we began our journey through the 24,000-square-foot space. Past the bar, we discovered bowling lanes and an arcade alcove. Beyond that: more bowling lanes and a downstairs karaoke area. We lingered beneath lettering that assured us “Someone in Texas Loves You” and watched as a guy with a man bun rushed around a Ping-Pong table, nearly tripping over his useless teammate. Behind that, we found giant Jenga in a room with a fireplace.
“Have you been upstairs?” a waiter asked, gesturing to a flight of stairs. “It’s all a big circle.”
We ascended and found more arcade games—including the longest foosball table ever, which demanded our attention. After that, we descended a different staircase and wound up in a dinerlike restaurant. It smelled like pickles and had a model train chugging along the ceiling.
A glass case of desserts beckoned, though, so we escaped through a hallway and, at long last, found ourselves where our adventure had begun. The women sipped their glasses of the featured punch. A waiter delivered cocktails to a group gathered near a foosball table. The guy with the man bun had found a better Ping-Pong partner.
With our journey complete, I was looking forward to some good old-fashioned sitting at the bar.