This small town of about 1,700, is an hour west of Austin. There's a town square with an impressive courthouse. (Even though it's no longer the county seat) There are a few antique shops, a brewery and this mighty fine place on 4th Street!
Blanco Bowling Club
This curious old building houses the Blanco Bowling Club Café. It has been the home of 9-Pin Bowling since 1948... and a place to get a bite to eat!
Hints of the Past
The flashing Open sign lured my eyes to the window, with curtains that I think I've seen in an I Love Lucy episode. Just inside the door, I found a pair of impressive wooden benches, worn smooth over the years. Most likely, these were the benches where bowlers used to sit while awaiting their turn.
It was Saturday at 1 pm when we spotted the Club. Luckily my husband and son were equally curious about this place, so we decided to go for a meal.
There were some open stools at the counter where we could have kept an eye on the kitchen through the window, but we sat at a table under a grand piece of Budweiser art instead. While waiting for menus, we amused ourselves watching a nearby baby learning to walk and reading a few advertisements on our Formica table.
The menu arrived with colorful bowling pins and more ads. I decided to go for the daily special because it included so many options. I got to make a choice between 2 entrees and then I was allowed to pick 3 sides! And best of all there were 3 plate sizes to choose from! Where in the world do they let you order the small, medium or large plate? I love that.
Burger and Chili Dog
Don and Scott probably made the best choice. I didn't have a taste, but it looked good.
Okay, this may not look all that appetizing, but it's just crazy that I could order all this, on the small plate for $5.54. There was roast beef and gravy, salad, mashed potatoes, cabbage, iced tea, bread and butter and lemon jello! This just amused me. With each bite, memories began to stir. I'm not going to say this was the best meal in my life...or blog, but it did bring me back to school lunches...or was it hospital food? I'm not being funny. This was an odd sensation. I honestly enjoyed the nostalgia.
I was giddy to take a little time exploring the back room, where smoking is allowed and the sounds of crashing bowling pins fills the space...at least in the evening.
The Back Room
At breakfast and lunch it's all about the food, since bowling doesn't start up till evening. The folks dining and smoking in this area all appeared to be locals. At least none seemed to be eyeing all the bowling treasures with any interest. I didn't hide the fact that I was impressed!
Cool Bowling Stuff
I haven't been to a bowling alley for maybe 15 years, so I'm not sure what kind of "bowling score projector tables" they have now. I'm guessing the Blanco Club probably acquired these babies, with their built in ashtrays and pencil holders, sometime in the 1970's. The red cup sitting on top had a message reminding guest to tip your pin setter! There was also a wall of old wooden bowling lockers, which have been in use since the place opened in the '40's. I wonder how many of coats of paint are underneath the most recent flesh tone layer.
And... Behind the Curtain!
The rear of the back room was covered in a wall to wall curtain, as ominous as the one in the Wizard of Oz. I asked a nearby server and she said it was fine to have a peek. What I found was a line-up of six sleek alleys with some retro ball returns. How I wish it had been a little later we could have watched the pin setters, (local youth) who manually reset the pins and place the balls on the ball return.
On the right side of the room there were shelves of bowling balls and a wall covered with award plaques. The names on these awards belong to some of the 200 or so members who own the club and play this unusual German form of 9-pin bowling. In the US, you'll only find this kind of bowling in a few Texas towns of German heritage.
Will I return? Oh yes! Not so much for the food, but to experience the 9-pin bowling vibe. I could pay to become a member, or just watch for fun. And then again, there are a few sweets to sample. We heard they have amazing pies and an unforgettable cinnamon bun at breakfast!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.