The bar is built on top of an old bowling lane. Photos by Angie Bryan

If you’re in a bad mood, it won’t stay that way for long once you enter Bolos (Spanish for bowling), the new (as of January) Tex-Mex cantina and candlepin bowling venue in Brunswick.

The interior is full of bright, cheery colors, and the bar area features one of the longest counters I’ve ever seen – a perk of being built on top of an old bowling lane. The barstools are red metal with backs; there are also several high-tops and a few lower seating options. Underneath the bar, you’ll find not only purse hooks and electrical outlets, but also a section of the old wooden track where bowling balls were returned. There’s a TV and four lanes for bowling. Despite the fact that the bar seating is right by the lanes, neither the bowling noise nor the music was overpowering, so my friends and I could easily hear each other.

House margaritas come in a variety of flavors, all for $8.

Naturally, margaritas were high on our to-drink list. One of my companions went with the hot ginger lime margarita, which we all loved but thought tasted more like chili pepper than ginger. Another chose the delicious strawberry jalapeño margarita, while I went for the much more subtle passionfruit. All six house margaritas are $8. The eight other specialty cocktails range from $7 to $14, and there are 15 beers on draft ($5.50 to $8). I didn’t ask about wine options because who goes to a Tex-Mex cantina and orders wine? Someone who wants to get kicked out, that’s who. I’m from Texas; I drink and I know things.

Bolos is owned by Mike Jerome and Joe O’Neil. Jerome went to culinary school in Austin, which led me to believe that his Tex-Mex creations might be more than decent. Buoyed by our enthusiasm, our hunger and perhaps the tequila, we ordered lobster jalapeño poppers ($16), nachos ($14), guacamole ($9), roasted corn and poblano fritters ($8), shrimp tacos ($13), a chimichanga ($13) and queso ($8). Two of us eventually had to stand up because we got so full; perhaps not coincidentally, the same two individuals had spilled food on themselves in their haste to shove it into their mouths. We will definitely return, but in stretchier pants.

Some additional touches? Diners can choose pinto or black beans, you have the option of five different salsas, the tortilla chips aren’t laden with salt, and the avocado crema was divine. Extra points go to our fabulous server Wendi, who was fast, friendly and attentive. She clearly enjoyed working there and made us laugh several times. To her great disappointment, we were unable to finish the embarrassing amount of food we had ordered, so we asked her to pack it up for us to take home. You know, in queso emergency.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

Bolos co-owner went to culinary school in Austin, so the Tex-Mex fare is legit.

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