Modern dating has its fair share of challenges. From deciphering tone via text message, to determining who should pay for what on which date, it’s hard out there (for a pimp). Thankfully, that timeless dating standby, dinner and a movie, has only improved with age. In fact, at some of the country’s coolest theatres, the two have become one. Top spots across the U.S. are providing table service in the screening room, so moviegoers can dine on local chefs’ creations while taking in the latest release.
Forget buckets of soda and popcorn coated with curiously calorific butter substitute. Think glazed Black Mission figs and artisanal jerky at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema, or pork belly with peach gratin at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco. Dinner theater gets reimagined at these locations coast-to-coast.
1. Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, TX
A pioneer of in-theater dining, the 20-year-old Alamo Drafthouse has five locations around Austin, plus expansion deals in San Antonio, Houston, Kansas City and Denver. The Ritz on Austin’s 6th St. serves local favorites like fried green beans, Mexican vanilla-spiked milkshakes and spicy puerco guisada stew, and counts Quentin Tarantino and Richard Linklater as fans. For those who’d just as soon keep a little change in their pockets, check out each theaters’ individual blogs for deals and specials.
2. Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, CA
Possibly the world’s best date spot, the Mission District theater and gastropub has a high-ceilinged indoor warehouse with an always-lit fireplace, plus an outdoor patio where independent, quirky and the titular foreign films are screened at nightfall. In August, the seasonal menu by chef-owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark introduced a selection of perfectly shareable small plates like five-spice duck cracklings and truffled popcorn.
3. Asheville Pizza and Brewing, Asheville, NC
These funky “Brew and View” spots in North and Downtown Asheville would be inviting even without the incredible $3 cost of admission. The on-site microbrewery pours local favorites like Rocket Girl, Scout Stout and Shiva. Hungry moviegoers choose from a respectable section of pizzas with toppings like portobello and smoked gouda, but the house favorite is sweet pea’s spinach burger, which comes smothered in local barbecue sauce and served in a warm pita.
4. FilmBar, Phoenix, AZ
A bold departure from the strip mall multiplexes that dominate downtown Phoenix, this 4,000-square-foot theater screens art-house flicks (the 2011 opener was Danish documentary The Red Chapel) accompanied by 30 craft beers, 15 wines and untraditional movie snacks like Japanese chili bits. Interiors kick things up a notch as well, with hammered copper Moroccan lanterns and vintage emerald green chairs alongside a rotating display of exhibitions by local artists.
5. Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn, NY
Williamsburg’s Nitehawk combines everything hipsters do well (i.e. throwback cocktails, indie films, a general enthusiasm for pickling) in a charming, three-story, 180-seat theatre. Signature menu items like house-made beef jerky do not disappoint, but don’t miss specials linked to the films on offer, such as the “Drunken Phoenix“ cocktail currently accompanying Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. No paint thinner, no problem.
6. McMenamins, Portland, OR
In Portland’s Alberta Arts District, mini-chain McMenamins operates a 300-seat theater, 57-key hotel and microbrewery in the historic Kennedy School. Cinephiles lounge on worn leather couches and armchairs, snacking on vegetable pizzas and sipping small-batch ales. And just in case watching movies in a repurposed, 1915-era elementary school isn’t Portland enough for you, the locally brewed beers can even be taken to go in refillable Mason jars.
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