Punch Bowl Social, a massive venue for eating, drinking, and entertainment, has landed impressively in the Makers Quarter redevelopment in the East Village. The huge, nearly 24,000-square-foot space was once a famous boxing forum in the 1920s, and the two-level bar and restaurant has incorporated elements from the historic site, including original boxing mats, stadium seating, and more, into a design the company calls “dirty modern”, an Instagrammable mash-up of styles ranging from Victorian to industrial and “old abandoned lodge”.
Launched in Denver, Punch Bowl Social now counts 14 branches across the country; with locations in Arlington, VA and Dallas, TX following the opening in San Diego. What makes the chain stand out from its counterparts is the hands-on involvement of its culinary partner, “Top Chef” judge and James Beard Award-wining chef and cookbook author Hugh Acheson, who joined the group in 2016.
Acheson, who told Eater that he’ll be in San Diego his work Punch Bowl has challenged him applying his technical prowess to a large-scale format, debuts his largest menu overhaul to-date here, pivoting its direction to focus on crowd-pleasing dishes informed by his extensive travel through Mexico which include squash and fried avocado tacos, street corn salad, chile rellenos, and Ranch Gordo stewed beans. The chef’s Southern roots show in a slow-roasted Texas-style brisket that makes its way into a filling for enchiladas, a topping for nachos, and a chili garnish for Frito pie. The from-scratch kitchen is also planning specials, including whole roasted fish and lamb neck pozole, and will eventually make its own tortillas.
The full menu can be ordered anywhere in the two-level space, which spans a dining room and multiple lounge and bar areas, including a circular bar that stands in place of the original boxing rings, and tons of entertainment options, from first-come, first-serve bowling lanes and private karaoke rooms to arcade games, giant Scrabble, darts, eight-player foosball, cornhole, and more. Punch Bowl Social officially launches Friday afternoon, with ticketed charity event scheduled for Saturday.