Sure, everyone loves traditional movie theater foods--the gloriously unhealthy nachos smothered in salty cheese sauce, overpriced candy, and popcorn, whether covered in butter or mixed with Milk Duds. But sometimes, whether it’s a desire to squeeze more into those precious babysitting hours, or not wanting to race from dinner reservations to the theater, it’d be nice to have more substantial food options available while you take in the latest Hollywood has to offer.
Local movie theaters are listening: in an effort to get theatergoers off the couch, theaters are increasingly offering the amenities of home: comfy seating, child-free screenings, and yes, food and alcohol. So change out of your pajamas, turn off Netflix and try one of these five options on your next date night.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the dizzying array of activities constantly taking place at The New Parkway Theater in Oakland--is tonight Open Mic Monday? Or is it Drink & Draw art night? And while The Parkway has done a remarkable job establishing itself as a community hub, that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about their core identity as a movie theater. Their popcorn comes covered in real butter, with the option to top it with garlic, Parmesan or nutritional yeast, and they also offer an impressively inclusive menu from which patrons can order items and have them delivered during the movie. Vegetarians can enjoy the “Big Salad” of the week, vegans can munch on a vegan Sloppy Joe, and the adventurous can order the chef’s choice “Mystery Meal” (described on the menu as “a square meal and a gamble”). There’s also wine, sangria and pitchers of beer available, all which the Parkway sources from within 200 miles.
When going to the Kabuki: order your reserved seating ticket online, and spend the time you would have spent scouting for seats ordering food and drinks at this Japantown favorite. The menu offers an eclectic variety of sandwiches (including a Barvarian-ish “Bratwurst simmered in Arrogant Bastard beer & spices on a toasted pretzel bun”), pizzas and interesting appetizers, like fancified tater tots (Excuse us, “Sweet potato tots served with spicy mustard dipping sauce.“) They also serve Humphry Slocombe ice cream--a vast improvement over the usual Dibs and Slurpees. You can bring food into any showing, and beer and wine into certain showings. Don’t miss their occasional movie-themed cocktail--for Gone Girl, a coconut rum and pineapple confection called the “Missing Wife.”
This El Cerrito favorite has several amenities: Hoping for something a little more comfortable than the traditional movie seating? Settle into one of their comfy couches. Weren't able to make it to Broadway to catch James Franco as George in Of Mice and Men? Just catch the Rialto’s screening of the National Theater Live’s filmed version. But one of the Rialto’s biggest draws is their menu, a sprawling affair that contains Hawaiian pizza, Greek salad, and nachos: a formidable heap of chips topped with beans, two types of cheese and housemade guacamole. Their beer menu features a selection of local beers, and Sierra Nevada will take over their taps during Beer Week. And if you’re trying to kill time before the movie, stop by Scene, their attached wine bar that features a slightly more upscale menu, expanded wine list and a decent happy hour ($2 off select wines and menu items, $1 off beer).
You can’t beat the Raven in terms of local offerings: the bulk of the food and drink options at the small Healdsburg cinema are sourced from just a few blocks away. The bread for their sandwiches? From Costeaux Bakery directly behind the theater. The beers on their drink menu? Two of them come from Bear Republic, just around the corner. Even the sparkling option--Sofia Blanc de Blancs--originates less than six miles away.
The menu is small and simple, offering a handful of choices like a smoked sausage and pepper sandwich, chicken quesadillas and a decadent three cheese grilled cheese, all of which can be delivered during your movie. Their alcohol menu is more extensive: they offer with a sizable collection of local wines available by the glass, bottle or half bottle, and a selection of local beers on tap. And with the Groupon they’re currently offering ($14 for two tickets and a large popcorn), you can use the money you saved to get a glass of wine.
Raven Film Center
415 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA [map]
Ph: (707) 522-0330
Hours: Mon-Thur,3:00pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sun, 12:00pm-9:30pm
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)
From their art deco ceiling, to the cushiony loveseats, to their collection of indie picks interspersed with blockbusters (don’t miss their annual screening of the Oscar nominated animated shorts), Berkeley’s Landmark Theater specializes in subtle touches. One of those touches--so subtle you might miss it--is Lot 68, the bar hidden to the left of the theater’s lobby. Lot 68 serves a varied menu, ranging from appetizers like egg rolls and cheese plates to more substantial fare like pizzas, pulled pork sandwiches and gyro plates. Not only do they offer a thoughtful selection of wine and beer, ranging from PBR to the well-regarded Blanche De Chambly from Quebec’s Unibroue brewery, they have a full bar and cocktail menu, all which patrons can bring into special 21+ showings.