Dine-in movie theaters are still relatively rare nationwide, but New York boasts a handful which cover a wide range of tastes both culinary and cinematic. So far, only Manhattan and Brooklyn are lucky enough to have dine-in options, as the one AMC dine-in theater on Staten Island is currently closed.
Most of them work the same way: Patrons order at their seats, often from a menu of takes on American bar food, and a server collects orders throughout the show, dropping off the check near the end of the movie. But some use a slightly different system and range in vibes and luxury levels. Here’s what to know before going — including notes on showing up early, the type of food, and whether arthouse flicks or blockbusters will be available.
Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square W #4, inside City Point
The Brooklyn outpost of Alamo Drafthouse, the Austin-based franchise, boasts movie offerings that range from blockbusters to quiet indie fare to cult favorites, as well as hosted screenings and Q&As with stars and filmmakers. Its theaters have comfortable assigned seating and tables shared between two seats, and servers take orders before and during the movie, using cards on which patrons write their order. Menu highlights include reasonably priced snacks (popcorn, buffalo cauliflower, loaded fries); entrees with gluten-free and vegan options; a range of drinks including boozy milkshakes; plus themed menus. Though the theater is strict about its no-texting, no talking policy, an “Alamo For All” program makes some movies more accessibility-friendly, with lowered sound and lights and some talking and adaptive technologies are allowed. (For regular screenings, children under 17 are only allowed when accompanied by an adult, and the under-six crowd is only admitted to special screenings.) Screenings often sell out quickly, so be sure to plan ahead.
If not seeing a movie, the House of Wax bar near the entry is worth checking out — it has a collection of cheekily morbid curiosities from a German wax anatomical museum that shut down in 1922.
Chelsea, 260 W. 23rd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues
Cinepolis Chelsea — which locals may remember as the Bow-Tie Cinemas, or Clearview before that — recently completed its conversion to a dine-in theater, albeit a low-key one. There’s no alcohol here; instead, patrons can order from a selection of standard movie theater snacks and drinks, as well as more hearty entrees that get delivered straight to the reclining leather seat. While the menu is straightforward and unremarkable — Nathan’s hot dogs, hummus plates, beef sliders — Cinepolis’s forte is shareable food, like nachos with chicken and bacon, mozzarella sticks, or a half-pound of fries, which makes it an appealing choice for groups and families. Assigned seating and a selection of wide-release films round out the offerings. There’s also a kids menu.
Lenox Hill, Upper East Side, 400 E. 62nd St., at First Avenue
For people who hate being interrupted during screenings but still want food and cocktails that go beyond the usual pub-style fare, CMX Cinebistro is a good option. Patrons must arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the movie to order at the slick bar, which sends food and drink to assigned, loungey seats early in the film. To order more, moviegoers must return to the outside bar, cutting down on the number of servers running around the theater. The movie offerings are standard wide-release films, but the nosh has more variety: Drinks include beer, wine, and craft cocktails like a dirty martini with cheese-stuffed olives, or seasonal fruit-based concoctions. Snacks and entrees are on the heartier side, like tender and filling wagyu sliders, pan-seared salmon, and a cacio e pepe.
IPIC Fulton Market
South Street Seaport, 11 Fulton St., between Front and South streets
By far the most luxurious (and expensive) of its peers, IPIC Fulton Market in the Fulton Market Building offers the highest end options. Tickets range in price from $16 to 30 depending on the film, time of day, and the seating option: “Premium seats” include cushy leather seats with individual tables or two-person chaise lounges, while “premium plus seats” have accessible seating with companions or semi-private “pod seats” for two. (A “Gold Membership,” which costs $45 per year, comes with variable ticket discounts, 10 percent off food and drinks, and other benefits.) Premium plus seats include a pillow, blanket, and dining where servers are paged with a button; others need to bring food and drinks from the grab-and-go counters outside. The food and drinks are higher than at other movie theaters but standard pricing for Manhattan; entrees include lobster rolls, calamari with gochujang glaze, and an extensive keto menu with kebabs and fried chicken. At the Tuck Room restaurant upstairs, bar snacks and selected drinks are priced starting at $5 during the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour, especially solid even if not planning to see a movie.
Park Slope, 188 Prospect Park West, at 14th Street
Brooklyn standard Nitehawk opened its second location in late 2018, in the building that formerly housed the legendarily awful Pavilion theaters. Now it’s a Park Slope staple, serving up mainstream recent releases and a handful of cult classics alongside inventive drinks and a brewpub-style menu with vegan and gluten-free options, as well as themed specials timed to recent releases. (Spider-Man: Far From Home’s specials included a summer vacation-themed sundae and a Cognac-based cocktail called the “Peter Tingle.”) Orders are collected before and throughout the movie from cards that patrons stand up on their tables. There are bars on the ground floor and the second level, which also has a few vintage video games. Ticket-holders get $3 off drinks at the upstairs one after the film. Patrons who buy tickets online can also opt into the theater’s “Dine and Dash” program; credit cards get automatically charged (including tip) for minimal interruption at the end of the movie. The family-friendly cinema also runs special kid-friendly morning screenings, while maintaining a strict age policy depending on the time of day. There’s no assigned seating, so make sure to get there early if picky about seating.
Williamsburg, 136 Metropolitan Ave., between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street
The city’s first dine-in movie theater boasts slightly more mature, offbeat programming than its younger sibling, though it still runs a selection of baby- and child-friendly films for Williamsburg’s youngest residents. The menu is similar to Prospect Park’s — vegan, gluten-free, brunch, and late night options are available — and includes everything from a local cheese and charcuterie plate and risotto balls to Beyond Burgers and Nitehawk’s truffle popcorn, with half-priced refills. Dine and dash is available, and seats are not assigned, so arrive early. The “Lo-Res” bar on the ground level serves cocktails, beer and shot specials, while films from Nitehawk’s VHS collection play on a 24/7 loop.
Bushwick, 40 Bogart St., at Thames Street
Syndicated is Bushwick’s only movie theater. Its cavernous bar and restaurant stays busy, with a notably strong cocktail and pub-style menu. The thick, spiced burger and fried chicken sandwich are on-point (though fries are not included), while cocktails include stand-outs like the High Noon, made with a mesquite-based whiskey. The theater itself boasts very inexpensive tickets ($7 apiece), but it’s a little less comfortable than its cousins. Syndicated has only one screen, with 60 seats and narrower rows than other similar theaters, and shorter people should sit further down in order to avoid cutting off a narrow strip at the bottom of the screen. (Seats are not assigned.) Programming, though, more than makes up for it. With only one screen, Syndicated shows just a few movies per day, but they range from new art-house releases to second-run restorations (the new print of Paris is Burning moved to Syndicated after its Manhattan run) to random and delightful treats, like Zoolander or a Harry Potter marathon.