In The Palace

Palace Social Reimagines Amusement with Virtual Gaming and Southern Cuisine

Palace Social was formerly known as Palace Bowling Lanes.

By Shelby Stewart November 15, 2021

Palace Social was formerly known as Palace Bowling Lanes in Bellaire. 

The Palace Bowling Lanes in Bellaire opened its doors in 1955, with 44 separate lanes, an arcade, a full bar, and a kitchen that kept the neighborhood of Bellaire fed with some of the best hamburgers in the city. 

Today, the Bellaire enterprise is known as Palace Social, which is transformed into a full-on gaming experience, anchored by eight bowling lanes. The family-friendly restaurant and entertainment center is a posh yet retro bar-style setting for American food & arcade games. Upon first impression, it was even better than I could’ve expected. While you can opt for large conglomerates like Main Event or Dave & Buster’s, Palace Social’s boutique gaming experience was absolutely worth it. 

The 27,000 square-foot entertainment center boasts a 3,900-square-foot arcade with approximately 50 machines, a 600-square-foot professional-grade e-sports lounge with 22 gaming stations, an Omni Virtual Reality Arena, an interactive XD Dark Ride Theater, two multi-sport simulator bays, and three private event spaces equipped with big-screen TVs and karaoke systems designed for multiple configurations.

The reimagined gaming center was headed by CEO, Billy Forney III, a graduate of Rice University and former energy company executive who transitioned into the gaming industry. To bring Palace Social to life, Forney enlisted over 40 local investors to restore Palace Bowling Lanes to its former glory, with a goal to tap into the nostalgia that Houston residents have for the former Palace Bowling Lanes.

Walking inside on a Saturday night, the establishment was packed with large groups ready to experience what the facilities had to offer. There’s something for everyone. I was able to enjoy the full-service bar with a Palace Bellini, while my friends enjoyed a competitive round of bowling. While the game of bowling was getting intense, Palace Social’s friendly and knowledgeable staff helped steer us in the right direction on what to eat. While bowling alleys are typically known for appetizers and small plates, Palace Social gives a whole new meaning to bar bites, thanks to Houston chef Ryan Hildebrand.

Tasty appetizers are available at Palace Social. 

Image: Michael Anthony 

Hildebrand, who was formerly associated with FM Kitchen & Bar, curated the restaurant's food and cocktail menu, and you can see his influences throughout the cuisine. The menu is a homerun一filled with luxe takes on Southern classics, such as the honey habanero Palace Wings, and the Plancha Quesadillas made with Texas Wagyu steak and Oaxaca cheese. But the deliciousness doesn’t stop there. If you want to round out the night with a complete meal, be sure to visit the restaurant’s ice cream and dessert stand, accompanied by milkshakes, cookies, sundaes, and brownies. 

The highlight of the night was the multisports simulator. Despite being virtual, the games, like basketball, football, and baseball, truly brought out a competitive spirit in everyone.  

The neighborhood favorite presents an exhilarating experience for gamers and foodies alike. Whether you’re looking for great drinks and a lounge outfitted with big screens, or simply some friendly competition amongst friends, Palace Social has everything you need for a night out with friends. 

Palace Social, 4191 Bellaire Boulevard. Starting next Monday, Palace Social will be open for lunch every day. 

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