By Joni Williams
Mother Nature tried to interfere with our visit Uncle Buck’s in Destin Commons. Our original plan was to hit them up during a slow time in the afternoon when many would-be bowlers would be at the beach. Only it rained, big time. We arrived to find a packed house with the line to sign up for a lane stretching out the door.
But we know a secret about Uncle Buck’s. Towards the rear of the house, in between the rows of alleys, there’s a good-sized freestanding bar. Even if it was so crowded it was standing room only, at least we could snag a drink instead of simply waiting in a long line. Lo and behold, after elbowing our way through the throng of waiting bowlers, we found the bar flanked with only a few patrons. Take that, Mother Nature.
Not only were there plenty of available seats, a friendly bartender informed us happy hour, which runs daily from 3 to 5 p.m., was in full swing. Score! That meant margaritas were priced at a mere three bucks and a duo of wine by the glass, $5.95. Better yet, brews were $2.12 for a pint of draft domestic or $5.30 for a tall 23-ouncer. And we’re not talking PBR, either. Bud, Bud Light, Mich Ultra and Miller Lite were all up for grabs at happy hour prices.
But wait, there’s more. As in, there were way more brews to choose from at regular prices. Though they’ve discontinued their craft selections since the last time we were there, they now have an expanded bottle selection that currently includes Corona, Sam Adams, Shock Top, PBR, Coors, Mich, Miller, Bud, Busch and O’Douls. There was still more on tap, including Blue Moon, Stella and Yuengling lager, an amber beer we’re fond of due to its depth of flavor. It’s a classic, sure, but offers way more balanced malty-hoppy goodness than a standard run-of-the-mill brand.
As tempting as the happy hour priced brews were, we opted for a bottled Sam Adams Rebel IPA. We’re not above a little craft snobbery from time to time, but we freely admit we like Sam Adams’ line. It’s IPAs we’re kind of picky about.
But we struck gold with this one. Or coppery gold, which is the color it would have poured if we hadn’t opted to drink it straight from the well-chilled bottle. It tasted of hopped-up malt that was complemented with a subtle but super delish kind of spiciness as well as some fruitiness. It finished with a hit of bitters, the signature of most IPAs. Overall, we found the Rebel to be an exceptionally fresh tasting and well-balanced ale that went down easy and smooth.
Besides a boatload of beer and libations, Uncle Buck’s offers a full food menu that’s surprisingly innovative. Oh sure, they have typical bowling fare like nachos, burgers and pizza, but there are plenty of innovative eats, too, including hand breaded alligator, smoked wahoo dip, alligator mac and cheese and Islamorada fish, complete with grilled shrimp lobster cream sauce. Most entrees and sandwich platters are priced in the low to mid teens, maxing out at 23 dollars for a ribeye steak.
Lanes here can only be rented and cost just under 35 bucks an hour, not including shoe rental fees. Keep in mind, though, this isn’t your typical landlubbing bowling alley. The interior has been completely done up in a water theme that includes see-through lane floors offering a walking-on-water kind of optical illusion. Balls are returned via ceramic, oversized gators and dolphins, while scattered mermaid statuettes stand watch.
No matter how you roll—at the lanes, in the waiting line, or spending a very happy hour at the bar (like us)—it’s a unique place that’s worth checking out.
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