The idea of dinner and a movie has taken on a whole new flavor with the rise of dine-in movie theaters. Instead of going to a restaurant first and catching a movie afterward, a growing number of people are finding it more convenient, cost-effective, and time-saving to combine the two experiences.
To cater to this new type of moviegoer, dine-in theaters have moved beyond bar food and ventured more toward gourmet. None of them is five-star restaurant quality, but many are closer to that level than you think.
While Fort Worth still impatiently waits for the arrival of Alamo Drafthouse, which has all sorts of plans for the Dallas area but none yet in Tarrant County, the following are the best options for upscale dining while catching a flick in Fort Worth.
This chain has 26 locations nationwide, including five in Tarrant County and three in Fort Worth proper. It's been owned by New Orleans-based Southern Theatres since 2013, but the change in ownership hasn't brought a dip in quality.
Depending on your level of movie-going neediness, you'll want to choose wisely when picking your location. All except the "original" location off Ridgmar Meadow Road offer full in-seat service; if you go to the Ridgmar location, you must order at the counter beforehand, although they'll still deliver your food. And if you care about reserved seating, only the Hulen and West Seventh Street locations offer that amenity.
Movie Tavern has a lot of great options from which to choose. Appetizers include pesto hummus and Thai chicken flatbread, and salads come in choices like cranberry pecan chicken or Sriracha steak. Entrees like Kobe beef sliders, Southern shrimp and grits, or build-your-own pizza entice, and they even offer breakfast options for Breakfast & a Flick on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Add in things like smoothies, cookies stuffed with marshmallows, and a full bar, and you have an experience that can rival any restaurant. The movie's just a great extra.
AMC Grapevine Mills 30 with Dine-In Theatres
Yes, you'll have to drive to Grapevine, but since AMC Grapevine Mills dedicates 13 of its 30 auditoriums to dining, it's worth the trip. Going one step further, it offers two levels of dine-in theater experience: Fork & Screen and Cinema Suites.
Fork & Screen, available to moviegoers 18 and older or adult-accompanied minors, has a similar set-up to most others on this list, while Cinema Suites, which are strictly for those 21 and older, feature luxury recliners. You can get the same wide-ranging menu of food and drinks in both.
That menu currently has tempting items like two different types of sushi rolls, crispy Brussels sprouts, a grilled chicken quinoa bowl, gumbo macaroni, and more. And that’s just a sampling; the menu has so many items that you may get to the end of the movie before you’re able to make a choice.
Studio Movie Grill
Studio Movie Grill is the standard-bearer for dine-in theaters around Dallas. It currently has no locations in Fort Worth proper, but there is a location each in Arlington and Colleyville, with a second Arlington location scheduled to open in summer 2016.
Anyone who remembers the early days of Studio Movie Grill may not recognize it now, as the menu has changed for the better. It now features items like edamame, ceviche lettuce wraps, farm-to-table crudite, mahi-mahi, and Nutella beignets.
For the oenophiles, Studio Movie Grill now offers its own brand of wine. SMG Cellars Cabernet and Chardonnay are available alongside a variety of other alcohol options, including unique adult milkshakes.
SMG offers budget-minded moviegoers a two for $25 combo menu any day of the week, as well as varying daily specials on drinks and food. Great food and great prices keep Studio Movie Grill near the top in this increasingly competitive field.
Moviehouse & Eatery
The newest entry into this crowded field, Moviehouse & Eatery currently only has one location in Tarrant County in Keller. But the mini-chain, which started in Austin in 2012, is pulling out all the stops in hopes of challenging the big guns.
The Keller location features eight dine-in theaters with state-of-the-art theater technology and leather recliners, along with a lounge in the lobby with a full-service bar. Each auditorium has full food and beverage service from an extensive menu featuring a variety of enticing choices with not-so-standard ingredients made from scratch.
These include a seasonal date plate; several items with a pumpkin seed pesto sauce; the intimidating Big Jake Burger with a steak patty, pepper Jack cheese, bacon, horseradish aioli, red pepper relish, and bourbon barbecue sauce; the Millionaire's Club with candied pork belly, peach chutney, arugula, and pickled cucumbers; port poached pears for dessert; and brunch offerings like an egg strata and breakfast Philly cheese steak.
With a variety of classic movie series that seem designed to emulate the model of Alamo Drafthouse, Moviehouse & Eatery looks to be in the game for the long haul.
Texas Movie Bistro
Unless you live in Lake Worth, you may not have heard of this theater. It's a rarity in the world of movie theaters, as it only has one location designed to serve its local neighborhood. But bless their hearts, they're doing their best to compete with the big boys.
Like the original Movie Tavern location, you must place your order at the counter before sitting down, but your food will be delivered straight to your seat. The menu may not be as diverse as the other theaters, but it's no slouch. There are things like Southwest egg rolls, Caesar salad, Black Angus burger, chicken panini, pizza, wine, and beer. And even though it may not be high-class, you can get your fries topped with cheese, gravy, or chili — a treat nobody else even offers.
You also can't beat the deals, such as $4 movies and two-for-one pizzas on Tuesdays, along with other food and drink specials the rest of the week. If Texas Movie Bistro is convenient to you, it's certainly worth a shot, as no other chain has a location even close to it.
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