KAITLYN FORDE April 19, 2017
I love High Rollers. It’s hard not to, I mean, it’s just so cool.
It offers the best variety of beers in the Bow Valley with nearly 50 on tap. The food is impressive. They have televisions in the dining area, where I’ve been happily distracted by a muted Big Lebowski more than a few times.
Their glorified long wooden picnic tables are the perfect reminder that you’re still in Banff. They have pool tables, arcade-style basketball games and, on top of that, you can bowl. It’s the perfect mix of food, drink and entertainment.
The dimly-lit venue is all varnished wood. As you walk down the stairs, you are immediately met by employees offering bowling shoes, and past that you realize half of the space is a bar, the other half is lanes and games. A grand bar-back accommodates the number of beers they have on tap. Their 48 choices are meticulously selected, greatly favouring local craft breweries. Almost their entire beer menu consists of beers from Alberta and British Columbia, with a few from other mountain regions like Colorado and Oregon. The L-shaped bar wraps around to the front of the seating area: easy access to grab another pint between wings or slices. My favorite touch: each beer tap is a little bowling pin.
The place is fluttered with little pieces like that. You go simply for drinks, or even a few arcade games, but the entire venue is meticulously decorated in order to remind you that you are in a bowling alley. Even the muted movies that play relate back to their venue – how many restaurants can play the Big Lebowski and have it match their edgy aesthetic? Indulging in a pint as you hit the pins is encouraged by bowling specials on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Bowl while you eat and drink; table service is provided at the grand seating area at the end of each lane. Book in advance as the ten-pin bowling lanes tend to fill up quickly.
Waiting for a lane or not, High Rollers has plenty to keep you occupied. Just deciding on a beer could occupy quite a bit of your time. They also have pinball, foosball, a pool table, and other arcade games that offer a great distraction if you’re waiting. It’s not just a dining experience, and it’s way more exciting than dinner and a movie. If you so choose, it’s dinner, a quirky beer, a movie, great music, and plenty of games.
They have specials almost every night (including the weekends, locals applaud!) that range from discounted bowling to food specials. We went on Thursday, half-price pizza night. Because High Rollers already covers so much: they have a great retro aesthetic, the atmosphere is laidback yet edgy, they have live DJs, and as the bar with the most beers on tap, food is not their only focal point. And yet, it’s delicious. The pizzas are creative, made up of delicious concoctions, and the slices are “the size of your head.” They’re huge. It often takes some time for them to come, but it’s well worth the wait. They excel with original flavours like the margherita and pepperoni and cheese, to daring combinations like the Bacon N’ Egg: white sauce, bacon, eggs, purple potatoes, and sausage or the carb-friendly Mac N’ Cheese: marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, Valbella hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese atop dough.
Although a great venue for all ages, High Rollers also shows versatility as a popular spot for nightlife after 10 pm. No minors are permitted after this time, and as the lights dim, DJs come in on the weekends to spin classics from 90s hip-hop to current pop hits.
It’s hard to decipher exactly what to call this venue: bar, restaurant, arcade, or bowling alley? Although it’s a struggle to nail down exactly how to define High Rollers, one thing is definitive: be sure to strike this one off your list.