If there’s anything we should have been able to predict based on ’90s movies like The Big Lebowski, Swingers and Kingpin, it’s that the ironic retro-cool of the bowling alley would one day be transformed into pricey Brooklyn trend palaces, with three-hour waits, packed bars that serve craft beers, not White Russians, hefty price tags and skinny jean-centric dress codes. There are plenty of bowling alleys in and around Brooklyn however, that are still straightforward spots where you can count your boards and roll your strikes without spending a fortune. Here are a few of our favorites where The Dude would feel right at home.
Melody Lanes, Sunset Park
461 37th St., 718-832-2695
Melody Lanes has everything–Ladies Day Tuesdays with free bowling for women, glow bowling at night and a snack bar with hot dogs, burgers, cheese fries and mozzarella sticks. On Friday and Saturday their weekend special offers all you can bowl for three hours for just $22 per person.
Rates: You can either pay per person, per game, which ranges from $7 to $9 depending on the day and time, or rent a lane for two hours, which ranges from $45 to $75, depending on the day and time. Shoe rental is $4.
Getting there: Take the N train to 36th St. or the B35 to 39th St. and 5th Ave.
Shell Lanes, Brighton Beach/Gravesend
1 Bouck Court, 718-336-6700
With 32 lanes, a snack counter, bar, and cosmic bowling (think black lights and disco balls) on Friday and Saturday nights, Shell Lanes has an almost romantically run-down cinematic look. The alley celebrates 54 years in business this year, and to top it off, the vintage bubble signage outside looks a lot like the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski.
Rates: Open bowling prices range from $3.50-$6 per game depending on the day and time, and on weekends between 9am and noon Shell Lanes offers three hours of unlimited bowling for $18 per person. Shoe rental is $3.75.
Getting there: By train, F to Ave. X station, walk one block to Bouck Court; by bus, B1 or B4 to Ave. X then walk toward Coney Island.
Strike 10 Lanes, Mill Island
6161 Strickland Ave., 718-763-3333
Strike Ten may be way off the beaten path, but it entices with slightly run-down, laid back, South Brooklyn flare. Family-owned and operated, this alley has 34 lanes, a small snack bar with frozen soft pretzels and fountain soda, and in the evenings, drinks from The Sports Bar. Grab a bucket of domestic ($9) or imported ($12) beers, and watch the league games. Strike Ten also offers glow bowling Friday and Saturday nights, karaoke night the last Friday of the month, a DJ on Saturdays and a $3 photo booth.
Rates: Monday through Friday until 5pm $4.50 per game; Friday 5pm to 9pm, $6 per game; Friday after 9pm, $8 per game; Saturday $6 per game until 9pm, $8 per game until close; Sunday $6 per game all day; shoes $4.25.
Getting there: This is not an easy spot to get to without a car, but you can take the B47 to Mill Ave./Ave. U, or take the Q train to Kings Highway and then transfer to the B100 to E 66th St. and Strickland Ave. If you drive, there’s plenty of parking.
The Gutter, Williamsburg
200 North 14th St., 718-387-3585
Yes, The Gutter is in Williamsburg, serves craft beers and has a back-room performance space for bands. But it’s still a dive, complete with a run-down bar and a limited number of lanes–eight to be exact, each made of recycled wood. On the weekend be prepared for a bit of a wait, but you can order food to be delivered. Bowling is two-for-one during happy hours which start after 1am Sunday through Thursday, and Fridays from 2pm-6pm. It’s also 21 and over at all times, so there are never children underfoot, and it’s worth noting that everything is cash only.
Rates: $7 per game, or $40 per hour Monday through Thursday; $45 Friday-Sunday. Shoe rental is $3.
Getting there: L to Bedford Ave.
AMF 34th Avenue Lanes Woodside, Queens
69-10 34th Ave., 718-651-0440
This spot offers 35 lanes and a separate retro-looking enclosed bar. There’s also a pool table and waitress service for lane-side eats like fried pickles ($5.29) and boneless wings ($7.99). Every Monday through Thursday and Sunday after 5pm, AMF offers groups of three or more unlimited pizza and unlimited bowling for $17.95 per person. There’s a serious late-night bowling scene here on the weekends, and the music tends more toward Beyonce than you might expect from a bowling alley.
Rates: Monday through Wednesday, $8 per game, with a 9pm-11pm two hours of bowling (shoe rental included) for $23 per person; weekend, $8.50 per game, $25 for two-hours unlimited bowling.
Getting there: The M and R at 65th St. is the closest stop, or head to the Roosevelt Ave./Jackson Heights stop for the 7, E, R, M and F trains, and stop for a treat at Dosa Delight or another local eatery on your way to the bowling alley.
Astoria Bowl Astoria, Queens
1945 59th St., 718-274-1910
New ownership has come in and overhauled Astoria Bowl, installing touch-screen scoring, 28 synthetic lanes, cosmic bowling, laser light shows and a new food and service area. There’s a strangely substantial menu for a bowling alley, including soups, salads, roasted chicken and meatloaf. The Sports Lounge has a full-service bar and table seating for after your game, or just come for the NFL happy hour and watch football on the flat screen with $9 pitchers and $3 pints during Sunday, Monday, and Thursday NFL games.
Rates: Monday through Friday $5 per game; Friday through Sunday $6 per game; Cosmic Bowling (Friday 11pm, Saturday 8pm, Sunday 7pm) $7 per game.
Getting there: Q train to Astoria–Ditmars Blvd