Restaurant of the Week: Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social, 12635 N. Main St. (Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga; open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays

The Denver-based Punch Bowl Social opened at Victoria Gardens in May in the vast former Toby Keith’s space with an entertainment zone and restaurant. There’s casual bowling (pins held in place by overhead strings), karaoke, arcade games and more. The dining, though, is of interest, with a menu by “Top Chef” judge Hugh Acheson, and the dining area evokes a ’50s diner. Is it any surprise I’ve tried it out?

The menu has breakfast, brunch, sandwiches, salads and Southern specialties including fried balogna sandwiches, pimiento cheese and chicken biscuits, but you’ll see “grass fed” and “hormone free” at various points, and these are obviously upscale takes on the food. There’s also a long beverage list, from beer and mixed drinks to “adult” milkshakes.

I was there for a late breakfast in May. First they give you a biscuit and housemade jam, maybe the strawberry ginger. I ordered the mushroom biscuit and gravy ($11), which came with a couple of eggs atop potatoes. I liked it..

In July, I returned with another friend for lunch. She got the A La Bama chicken sandwich ($13) and a grapefruit soda ($5), while I had the meatloaf ($13) and a black cherry soda ($3.50). She liked her sandwich. Checking my notes, I have this direct quote: “It was good.” OK, that’s not that helpful. But her sociopolitical message is a winner.

My meatloaf was a chef’s take on the humble dish, served atop mashed potatoes and with pickled radishes and carrots, all tasty and all probably better than your mom’s.

We should have tried the pie or another dessert, but after all that food, that wasn’t possible. The $40 lunch tab provided further discouragement.

Stunningly, perhaps, Punch Bowl Social instantly became one of Rancho Cucamonga’s better restaurants. It certainly beat the similar but generic Big Al’s in Ontario. Be prepared to pay a little extra, and consider working off some calories through bowling.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • Another commenter

    See? This review is a little bit of what’s wrong with the IE. Rancho Cucamonga wants to lure in Millenials but they are faced with needing to genuinely meet Millenials preferences for places to go and things to do that transcend the chain restaurants and mall stores that are popular with we Boomers. This review is sort of a typical Boomer review. $40 is NOT pricey for a lunch given the large portions could furnish dinner that night or lunch the next day. There’s entertainment there and it is either fun or not. Why tie it to exercise for weight loss and guilt about a meal when it could just be fun? Could you come here regularly with your friends, have some drinks, a meal and a friendly bowling competition? Answer this and you might start to appeal to an entire up and coming generation of consumers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like you, but I think you could consider expanding your point of view.

    • davidallen909

      It’s bracing to read that one of these humble reviews exemplifies “what’s wrong with the IE,” or that a slightly different tone might allow me to break through to a younger audience, but that’s how it goes some days. I do appreciate the feedback, though.

      So: Is $20 per person pricey for lunch? For my budget, yeah, and the portions weren’t large enough to take anything home. I don’t mind paying extra when it’s worth it, as it is here (Combine Kitchen and Back Abbey are other examples), but the pricing would be a concern for some readers.

      My last line was a lazy way for me to end the review and tie in bowling rather than a real concern. Since it was a lunch break from work, we didn’t have time to try any of the games.

      I did like Punch Bowl enough to have gone there twice and would happily go back. Might be a fun place to celebrate a birthday. Maybe I didn’t come off as enthusiastic enough, but that’s more my personality than a boomer/millennial divide.

      • Another commenter

        Yeah. I was really lucky that I didn’t fall off of that high horse I was on! I stand by much of what I said but not entirely the tone.

        • davidallen909

          Understood. Thanks for the follow-up as well as the original comment.