Junction Bowl in Gorham is the third bowling alley where I’ve reviewed the bar, the others being Bolos Kitchen, Cantina, & Candlepin in Brunswick and Round 1 at the Maine Mall in South Portland. I took the same two drinking companions (both avid bowlers) each time for consistency, and all three of us can’t wait to go back to Junction Bowl for a repeat visit.

Why, you might ask, would a non-bowling cocktail enthusiast want to travel from Portland to Gorham for this bar? In two words: margarita flights. Every Tuesday, Junction Bowl, which opened in 2019, offers a flight of four flavors of margaritas and two tacos (you can choose from two different fillings) for a total of $20.

The margarita flavors and taco fillings change each week, a sneaky way to lure people back multiple Tuesdays in a row. The night of our visit, the flavors were watermelon, pomegranate, Blue Hawaiian and lavender. The taco options were straightforward ground beef and BBQ ranch chicken topped with corn and fried onions. As a Texan, I’m pretty snobby about my tacos, but I loved both, especially the chicken one. The flour tortilla was grilled, so it didn’t get soggy from the fillings, not even the slightly oilier beef one – a major plus. We loved everything we tried and had lots of fun swapping our margaritas (“I’ll trade you my lavender for your Blue Hawaiian”) once we figured out who liked which best.

Junction Bowl has a terrific layout. There’s ample parking, a large patio where there’s live music Wednesdays through Sundays all summer (weather permitting), loads of picnic tables and an area with Adirondack chairs around fire pits. Inside, there’s a large dining room, an arcade located away from the bowling and dining areas so that the noise and lights aren’t an issue, a long bar counter (with a full bar, wooden barstools with backs and footrests, and hooks underneath) and 12 lanes of 10-pin bowling, each with lots of room for seating, storage and observing. There are outlets and USB chargers in each bowling console, several TV screens, and a fun mix of classic rock, top 40 and country music playing at a reasonable volume for conversation (or singing along).  It’s a kid-friendly vibe but also has several middle-aged patrons, at least on Tuesdays.

The bar at Junction Bowl sits just behind the lanes, so you can watch the alley action or the TVs.

Service was mixed the night of our visit. There appeared to be multiple servers just standing around chatting with each other, but it still took 15 minutes for someone to take our drink order, and our appetizer of fried mozzarella sticks (don’t tell my trainer) didn’t arrive until almost 45 minutes after we placed it, a potential problem, since we had rented the lane for only an hour. (They are bowling alley employees, so perhaps they were on strike?)

That said, everyone we dealt with was friendly and helpful, and the drinks arrived quickly after we ordered them. Despite the timing issues, we enjoyed the overall experience so much that we’d definitely go back.  The next visit might have to be on a Wednesday, when there are 99-cent wings, a glass and a half of wine for the price of one, and $1 off whiskey, along with a trivia competition from 7-9 p.m. That sounds – dare I say it? – right up my alley.

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.

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