Love Letter

Austin's Best Enchiladas Are Hiding in the Gutter

by Darlene Fiske

Enchilada heaven. All photos by Darlene Fiske.

A vintage bowling alley in Austin, Texas, is known for more than just its lanes.

AUSTIN – Would you believe me if I told you that the holy grail of cheese enchiladas can be found in an old-school vintage bowling alley in Austin? I'm a San Antonio native and Mexican food is the nucleus of my existence. I speak the truth, and only the truth. These enchiladas are so good they make me want to curl up in a snuggly blanket in the gutter of a bowling lane and sing "Amazing Grace."

There are no slick PR firms touting the cheese-laden marvels at Dart Bowl. The chef isn’t winning a James Beard Award anytime soon, but people who know Austin — who really know Austin — can attest to the virtues of holiness when the grease-and-cheese-filled plate smothered in jalapeños and onions arrives in all its glory.

"Would you like toast, crackers, or tortillas with your enchiladas?" our waitress asked when we placed our order.

The bread (made from scratch) came out in a plastic red basket littered with butter packets, at which point I felt my jeans (and my arteries) tightening. Then, they arrived: Three corn tortillas filled with gooey cheddar cheese, rolled into tubes, smothered with meat sauce, and covered with more cheese. The enchiladas are baked in an oven until bubbly, melted, and ready for toppings.

Jalapeños and onions are optional, as are eggs, which are cooked to your liking. No rice, no beans. No need. There’s a "light" version that only has two enchiladas instead of three, but why punish yourself?

For ambiance, I sat inside the Dart Bowl Café, which has a wall of graffiti where people confess their love for such things as boyfriends and hot, buttery toast. Another option is to order at the counter, start a bowling game, and wait until they call your name.

Bowling? Yes, people actually bowl here. The lanes are well lit, the scoring is computerized, and the bowling shoes I rented were brand-spanking new.

Dart Bowl also has an air hockey table, video games, a Pro Shop, and even a laser maze —  everything you could want in a bowling alley. I hear from reliable sources that breakfast is also worth the trek.

But let us not fool ourselves. Our time on Earth is limited. We are all on a quest to find the very best in life. And here, my food loving friends, is one stop on your journey that you cannot miss.

Enchilada, Dart Bowl, Austin, Texas

Ooey-gooey bowling lane enchiladas.

Toast, Dart Bowl, Austin, Texas

The legendary toast.

Graffiti, Dart Bowl, Austin, Texas

The graffiti wall.


Dart Bowl
5700 Grover Avenue
Austin, Texas 78756


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