Dinner in a Movie
Some people are serious multi-taskers. They brush their teeth in the car, they eat their lunch in line at the bank, and they can simultaneously surf the internet, pluck their eyebrows, and skim celebrity gossip magazines during conference calls. They are too efficient to get dinner AND a movie, they’d far prefer to get dinner IN a movie. Then there are those of us who simple love a good crepe and a glass of cava or a good burger and a pint of ale with our movie, with soft cushy theater-style seating and cleanup included. Here are a few places that will please the multitaskers and hedonists alike.
The Montavilla neighborhood’s Academy Theater is a movie + food lover’s paradise. Recently restored to its 1940s splendor, it boasts three theaters that play 6-7 different movies daily for only $4, reclining stadium style seating, pizza from neighboring Flying Pie Pizzeria, Nathan’s hot dogs, organic chocolate, ice cream, fresh fruit and garden salads, and the requisite popcorn and candy. There are 10 microbrew beers on tap, wine, sodas, iced tea, organic juice, and they offer babysitting for some shows. As though that weren’t enough, on Mondays you can watch two consecutive movies for $6, and Tuesdays is buy one ticket get one free day. Babysitting, organic chocolate and free movies?? What more could you ask for?!
When I go to the Bagdad Theatre, the first thing I do is place an order for a Terminator Chocolate Milkshake–a bracing concoction of vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate syrup, and McMenamins’ Terminator Stout–and a cheeseburger with tater tots, because there are few things more fun than seeing a $3 flick in one of the most gorgeous historic theaters in town and being served a burger and a beershake right at your seat. A great spot for a casual (and cheap) date, after the movie you can further probe your date’s intellectual acuity and compatibility by relocating to the adjoining pub and having a spirited discussion about the deep meaning and symbolism of important flicks like Velvet Goldmine and Role Models. Or, if it’s a warm night, grab sidewalk table, order another beershake, and watch passerby, aka the Hawthorne Theater.
This particular dinner in a movie excursion requires the longest drive from Portland proper, into the wilds of Troutdale, but McMenamins’ Edgefield property–a beautiful 74-acre former poor farm–is well worth the trek. Stroll the gardens, play nine holes, get pruney in the soaking tub, then order a brown rice bowl or the Alehouse fish and chips (depending on what kind of shape your heart’s in), and take in a $3 second-run movie at the Power Station Theater.
You could make a meal out of the exemplary popcorn, many fine snacks and local beers and wines served at this beautiful historic non-profit theater in the middle of the Hollywood district hubbub, or you can order up piping hot slices of Atomic Pizza to eat with your artsy flick, classic flick, family flick or horror flick. Plus they have Salt & Straw ice cream, so you could make this a Dessert in a Movie destination.
Watching a movie at school was such a guilty childhood pleasure, because it seemed so illicit. Bring back that loving feeling at the McMenamins Kennedy School, where you’ll only pay $3 to watch movies that have just recently departed the really expensive cinemas, and instead of having to survive on overpriced popcorn and Junior Mints you can get a burger, tater tots, and a pint of Hammerhead Ale to savor during the show. Kids are welcome until 6pm; the theatre only lets big kids (21+) in after that.
The Laurelhurst Theater makes as much of a visual impression today as it must have when it opened in 1923, with its glittering art deco facade enlivening the intersection of Burnside and NE 28th. And although movies were a little cheaper back in 1923 than now, the Laurelhurst is still a great deal–with four screens showing up to nine different movies each week for only $3 a show, a lineup which includes independent, art, classic and modern films. The theater sells New Deal pizza and Stumptown Coffee, has a bundle of beers on tap, and will pour you a glass of wine too. Which reminds me, moviegoers must be 21+ after 5:30pm, but before then, bring the kids–children 12 and under get to see movies for $1.
Living Room Theater
Seeing as the Living Room Theater is, after all, a theater, you can order popcorn at the front counter. You can even order caramel popcorn. But once you’ve seen the entire menu, you’ll likely thumb your nose at mere popcorn. Because Living Room Theater is Portland’s first and only “gourmet” movie theatre, so forget the Sour Patch Kids and faux butter-drenched popcorn with a Diet Coke chaser, and order up the mixed olives, espresso flank steak skewers, deviled egg trio with caviar, and a cucumber oregano martini. The staff will deliver your food right to your seat, even bringing an ice bucket for your Prosecco bottle. Now that’s my kind of theater. Budgeteers, come on Mondays and Tuesdays–movies are only $5, leaving leftover funds for an after-dinner drink at the in-theater bar.
Formerly a Swedish Evangelical Mission and Longshoreman’s Union, now this grand historic Alphabet District theater’s just the place to see a $3 flick or special screening (i.e., the Superbowl) while under the influence of McMenamins pub grub, brews, wine & cocktails. Speaking of which, kids are permitted until 9pm (then it’s 21+), and those 11 and under only pay a dollar. If it’s Wednesday and you have $12, take advantage of the beer, brew and a movie deal.
Pix Patisserie is already the sort of establishment in which you can easily while away an entire evening drinking Lillet, eating pistachio macarons and chocolate-covered cherries, and reading Flaubert until you start hallucinating that you’re in your favorite bar in Montmartre. But on Wednesday evenings, you can trade the novel for the silver screen, because it’s movie night in the outdoor courtyard. The diverse lineup includes black and white classics like Cleopatra, fun family flicks like Ratatouille, or 80s legends like Pretty in Pink. Bring a blanket, order up a few tapas or dessert, and settle in under the stars. You’re not in Paris, but it’s okay. Portland’s not such a bad place.
St. Johns Theater and Pub
St. Johns Theater just wouldn’t be a McMenamins if it didn’t have a storied past, and sure enough, this building–which was originally the National Cash Register Company’s exhibit hall for Portland’s Lewis and Clark Exposition–has had some adventures, including being barged down the Willamette River, serving as a bingo parlor, and hosting Gypsy wakes. These days the adventures are on screen, and for $3 you can watch popular recent releases and enjoy a full McMenamin’s menu, including beer, wine and cocktails (take advantage of the Tuesday special–a beer, burger and movie for $11.50). Children are welcome until 9pm, then it’s a 21+ world.