Plank Oakland, a bowling-alley-meets-gastropub-meets-entertainment-center in Jack London Square, is home to a state-of-the-art arcade with a hipster Oakland vibe. The atmosphere is loud and pretty kid-friendly.
Pro tip: Parents will want to visit Plank with game-loving kids on off-peak hours to save money.
The place looks terrific. Reclaimed wood and modern fixtures, along with a stone hearth pizza oven that's visible from the waiting area make it inviting, while an outdoor bocce ball court set in the upscale marina that is Jack London Square make it unique.
Plank Oakland food is ok
The food served indoors is average at best, but if your dining companions are not discerning, it's fine. A kids menu is available, with a build-your-own meal structure.
Choose one of these (entrees) + one of these (sides) + then you can have (dessert). Clever.
Plank Oakland arcade is terrific
Purchase reloadable game cards to play the arcade games, the higher value cards come with bigger “bonus” plays. You can use the card for multiple visits if you can hold onto it. My kids spent most of their time shooting baskets in the arcade while I played skee-ball. We also played air hockey and rode on a stationary roller coaster that was amazing and surprisingly affordable. No arcade activity is more than $3 and many are $0.50.
Bowling at Plank, timing is everything
We went on a Saturday and were taken aback to learn that a bowling lane would be $65 (for up to 6 players), plus $20 more in shoe rentals for the four of us, so we skipped it. Monday through Friday until 5 pm, bowling is $6.75 per person or $11.50 per person including shoes. (Much better when you're paying for the family and not splitting with friends!)
The 18-lane bowling alley features huge-screen tv broadcasts of multiple sports at a time, Las Vegas style, and the balls are painted like oversized billiard balls.
Since plank attracts so many young adults and becomes a 21-and-over spot after 9 pm, it's best enjoyed by kids during early afternoons, before people really come to drink. The waitress warned us that during a Warriors game, it would be difficult to move inside the building.
Pro tip: Use of the arcade without a meal is perfectly acceptable and definitely worth a stop if you're in Jack London Square.
The beer garden offers appealing outdoor community seating in front of bocce ball courts, but the wait time for the courts can be prohibitive, and the outdoor menu is more limited. (Think hummus plates.) For a few adults with a baby or toddler, plank's beer garden is a great spot for a drink and snack outdoors.