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Arts + Culture

The World’s Coolest Dine-In Theaters

No time for pre-show dinner? No problem. Support the arthouse/blockbuster/cult classic cinemas championing your right to grab food and a flick all under one dimly-lit roof.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Metrograph, NYC

To catch archive-quality black and whites and indie cinema on 35mm, head for the Old Hollywood-style Metrograph, on Ludlow. The Alexander Olch-curated theater-meets-bookstore-meets-candy-shop hosts exclusive premiers, rare screenings, and special events complimented by gourmet bites from the sleek Metrograph Commissary. This month, dine on steak tartare or spaghetti pomodoro before enjoying The Last Waltz, The Watermelon Woman, or OJ: Made in America from the vantage of a 1920s-esque red velvet seat.

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Alamo Drafthouse, Downtown Brooklyn

The Alamo Drafthouse franchise has been dominating the indie dine-in theater scene for some time (thanks to locations spread all across the States), but they've just now made their mark on Brooklyn with a long-awaited spot that finally opened its doors in October. The two-floor cinema houses seven screens, a rooftop patio and the much talked about House of Wax Museum & Cocktails bar which is bursting with vintage busts, anatomical models, and macabre celebrity death masks. When you're done downing drinks alongside a wax Napoleon Bonaparte, and onto your movie, you can order pancetta mac and cheese, ropa vieja beef tacos, and an array of whiskey-, tequila-, and rum-spiked shakes. Current features include Heavenly Creatures, Mean Girls, Coming to America, and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

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Courtesy of the Commodore Theatre


The Commodore, Portsmouth, VA

Forget Fandango – at the single-screen Commodore cinema, tickets can only be bought in person at the box office. The fully-restored 1945 Art Deco beauty (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) keeps it old school, and charges just $9 a ticket, even offering a $1 discount to those paying cash. Once seated, moviegoers can choose from a menu of handmade pizzas, hot sandwiches, and ice cream floats before picking up the phone on their table and placing their order with the kitchen directly. The theater shows only one movie at a time; now showing is Ben Affleck in The Accountant, while next up is Eddie Redmayne in a take on J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

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Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

First-run films, 35mm prints, and new indies meet table service at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema. In 2011, the theater made news for singlehandedly overturning a New York state liquor law that prohibited booze distribution in theaters, making them NYC’s first dine-in movie joint. Now, their revolving menu takes cues from currently-showing flicks. For more food and film fun, you can also catch signature programs like Country Brunchin’– “Southern-style music, movie and food” and Film Feasts – where classics films, like American Psycho and Annie Hall, are accompanied by feature-inspired meals from guest chefs. Regular programming, as of late, includes Hell or High Water, Masterminds, and The Birth of a Nation.

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Photo by Michael Tuplian


Syndicated, Bushwick, Brooklyn

Leave it to Bushwick to transform a former industrial warehouse into a hip bar/cinema/restaurant with an eclectic lineup of cult classics, 80s blockbusters (that we all love to hate), obscure indies and critically acclaimed films. Each show, 50 guests take to the stadium seats and scribble orders on paper menus before settling in beneath low-lit, exposed-bulb string lights. On the theater menu is the Hot Mess Chicken Sandwich – with Beyonce-approved hot sauce, coleslaw and bleu cheese dressing – and eight artisanal popcorn flavors. The drink list includes local microbrews and cheeky craft cocktails like the Steve McQueen (old overholt rye, snap, carpano antica, dolin dry vermouth, whiskey-barrel aged bitters) and the Red Rum (blackwell rum, brugal anejo, cynar, aperol, lemon, angostura and peychauds). This month's lineup: Children of Men, The Blues Brothers, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And to top it all off? Tickets are only $3 (or $4 if you purchase online).

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Dome Bar & Cinema, Gisborne, NZ

The Dome in Gisborne feels like a funky 20s speakeasy. Housed in the Poverty Bay Club, the theater is all about elegant skylights, beaded chandeliers, wood-paneled walls, an upholstered bar and.... bean bag chairs (take a virtual tour and see for yourself). What's now a screening room used to be the billiards room of a gentleman's club, and the old-timey atmosphere persists with comfortably worn leather sofas, framed photos and warm lighting. At the Dome Bar, pick up a beer or wine, and order a pizza before you settle into your single or double bean bag with a blanket and pillow (for neck support, of course). Post 5 pm Thursday-Saturday, you can order off of the PBC Cafe's menu which means bacon, chorizo scallops with pineapple drizzle and grilled pineapple and poached apricot cheesecake (oh, my). Current films include Captain Fantastic, The Girl On The Train, The Clan, and Operation Avalanche.

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Laurelhurst Theater and Pub, Portland, OR

The neon display and circa 1923 art deco marquee outside Portland’s Laurelhurst Theater make it hard to miss. Once a single-screen venue, the cinema now has four auditoriums, and a menu with everyone's favorite movie snacks – pepperoni pizza, popcorn, candy – as well as microbrews like Lucky Lab Stumptown Porter, Atlas Blackberry Cider and Cascade Lakes Blonde Bombshell. The Portland fave shows indie, classic, and Oscar-award winning films, with adult-only shows starting at 5:30 pm. This month you can catch Let the Right One In, The Birth of a Nation, Sausage Party, and Ghostbusters. Want more good news? General admission is only $4 (can you hear us weeping from our $18 AMC seats in NYC?) and previews run only 5 minutes.

RELATED: 35 Things to Do for Free in Portland, OR

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Cinema Studio 28, Paris

Is there anything more romantic than al fresco dining and French cinema? If you’ve ever watched the fantastical Amelie, you’ll recognize the avant-garde Studio 28 from the pivotal character's Friday night outings. But the cinema (in the heart of Paris' Montmartre/7th arrondissement) opened in 1928, long before Audrey Tautou ever graced the silver screen with her puppy dog eyes. The independent arthouse continues to operate as a meeting place for artists and they show all films in their original language (no subtitles here). Grab a drink on the open terrace with its mural homage to France's cinematic royalty, then head indoors to take a red velvet seat before the curtains part for showtime. This month, Studio 28 presents Les Pepites, La Fille Inconnue, Victoria, and Brooklyn Village.

RELATED: The Hidden Gems of Paris' 16th

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The Montpelier’s Backroom Cinema, London

Backroom cinema is all about championing the little guy. The 30-seat screening room welcomes Q&As with actors and artistes, and if you happen to have a film club or production company, you can rent out the space. During regular showings, guests sip on local ales and spirits from breweries and indie producers like Sambrook's, Meantime Brewing Company and Four Roses Bourbon. As for food, opt for a "peckish" (Welsh rarebit on sourdough toast) or "hungry" (beef & Guinness pie with seasonal veggies) selection from the Montpelier Kitchen menu. On the movie docket this month and next are Tashi & The Monk, The First Monday in May, and Kate Plays Christine.

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Enzian, Maitland, FL

The alternative, single-screen Enzian theater is known for its indie roster which leans heavily on first-run art films, foreign features, and special programming. It's also ground zero for Eden Bar and the Florida Film Festival. The former slings an extensive list of beers, wines and cocktails, including Yuengling drafts, Cosmopolitans, Mimosas, and local Sycamore Lane and Century Cellars wine varieties. For dinner, feast on peach chicken wraps, hand-rolled, thin crust pizzas, pear prosciutto, and raspberry beignets. This month's programming: The Handmaiden, Idiocracy, and Michael Moore's Trumpland.

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Bio Oko, Prague, Czech Republic

Bio Oko in Prague's Letna neighborhood attracts a bohemian crowd (many being students from the nearby art academy) but the theater has programs fit for every type of film buff. For parents with children, there's kid-friendly Baby Bio screenings (with reduced volume and lighting), for the risk-takers there's Blind Date (a surprise film revealed only after the lights go out), and on Sundays, there's Filmbrunch where new movies and menu items like avocado sandwiches, tarte tatin, spring soup, and falafel, mix. The 400-ish seat single-screen theater invites guests hang out at Oko Bar and grab a beer before taking to beach chairs, repurposed car seats, and normal cinemas seats in the auditorium. On the program now is a Czech-dubbed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Into the Darkness, After the Rain, and American Honey.

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Studio Skoop, Ghent, Belgium

The five-screen Studio Skoop in Ghent caters to Belgian cinephiles with European films, American indies, and local productions. They also host the "Film Stones," a school field trip crowd-pleaser, with movies suited to their 3 to 12 year old crowd. Non-middle schoolers can grab a drink (or a bite) at the Studio Skoop Café – with a full bar – where portraits of ScarJo, Daniel Bruhl and Crispin Glover silently look on. Take a seat near the fireplace, or get comfy as you sit in on a Skoop Sessions live music event; most recently, the cafe welcomed local jazz trio WHExp. The theater is currently showing The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, Juste La Fin du Monde, Trolls, and Sing Street.

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