I admit it: I love to bowl. I hold the key to locker #1 at Albany Bowl (540 San Pablo Avenue), the bowling alley in Albany, California, a city with only about 17,000 people but boasting both a pool and a bowling alley, for crying out loud.
They keep it nice in there. It’s sparkling clean but still has that retro feel, what with all the black and white photos of famous visitors, a dark, secluded bar, pool tables and a pro shop. Patrons include various league members there to practice, and kids from the Albany school system walked over in groups. While there are video games for teens who use the Bowl as a hang-out, it never gets out of control because management keeps a lid on it.
Since I had to go renew my locker for another year, Matt and I thought we’d have something to eat at the cafe, which serves Thai food in addition to the usual suspects, like burgers and cheese fries. There’s a counter and a half-dozen or so tables, and you order from a board behind the counter. Honest to God, you can get a very decent pad Thai at Albany Bowl for $7.50. There are ample shrimp and tofu cubes in this large, hot portion of noodles served with a slice of lime on the side and ground peanuts on top. Matthew ordered the cheesesteak for $6.95, which had plenty of meat, cheese, and, I think, green peppers and onions, but he got mad when I wanted all the details so I left it alone. His sammie came with criss-cut fries, which was a nice touch. We also shared a fried calamari for $6.75, served with sweet/hot sauce. It was all strips (no tentacles) but nice, thick, non-uniform pieces that were not overcooked and not greasy.
The food here is cooked to order and handed to you right out of the tiny kitchen, so you can’t go wrong, and the proprieters of this little diner are super-friendly, too. If I were you, I’d check it out and bowl a couple games, too.
Albany Bowl is a remnant of a mostly-lost world, where cocktails, Brunswick machines and Formica tables still happily coexist. While the smoking part of the equation is no longer allowed, they do have free wi-fi.