As the powers that be have looked for new ways to get people excited about going to the movies (and justify that expensive ticket), a concept that was once something of a regional anomaly—the movie theater that also serves food!—has become increasingly prevalent. New York City now offers a number of theaters that not only offer the option of snacking on the beloved buttered popcorn/soft drink combo, but also the choice of sipping on an IPA or Margarita at your seat, washing down your sandwich or salad.
Whether you want to check out a big budget blockbuster, an indie you heard everyone talking about at the bar the other night, or looking for a chance to quote The Big Lebowski or Clueless with a couple dozen strangers, you've now got the option to do so in various levels of dining, comfort, and luxury.
In addition to these theaters we've highlighted below, it can't be overlooked that this list is continuing to expand: this year, we’re expected to add a new eat-in Regal Cinemas in the East Village, a Downtown Manhattan Alamo Drafthouse, and a Staten Island Alamo Drafthouse (complete with a Wu-Tang Clan-themed bar called, yes, THE FLYING GUILLOTINE) all to the mix.
Nitehawk Williamsburg (Evan Romano/Gothamist)
Nitehawk Williamsburg As far as movie theaters go, the OG Nitehawk— located near the top of Williamsburg’s Metropolitan Avenue—is about as enjoyable as it gets. Tickets are not as expensive as the other dine-in theaters (only $13 for a GA seat), and the in-seat menu has an assortment of snacks, drinks, entrees and more. The unassigned seating means you’ll have to arrive early to lock your spot in, but the pre-show programming is always entertaining, with short clips fine-tuned to fit the film you’re about to see. Downstairs bar Lo-Res makes for a great landing spot to discuss any and all things post-movie, whether it’s Marvel/Star Wars spoilers, or the latest buzzy A24 release. One thing unique to Nitehawk: the morning brunch series of movie selections where you can enjoy a hand-picked movie on Saturday and Sunday before noon, along with breakfast and a tasty mimosa.
Located at 136 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (718-782-8370, Nitehawk Williamsburg)
Nitehawk Prospect Park (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
Nitehawk Prospect Park Similar to its sibling location in Williamsburg, this new-to-the-game spot is much roomier, having taken over the space formerly occupied by The Pavilion, Park Slope’s longtime neighborhood theater. The programming is the same as most others on this list—new releases, buzzy indies, and specially curated screenings are all in play. With seven total screens and a lot more space to play with, Nitehawk Prospect Park is almost like a souped-up version of the original.
Located at 188 Prospect Park West, Park Slope (718-782-8370, Nitehawk Prospect Park)
Syndicated BK (Evan Romano/Gothamist)
Syndicated BK While you’re probably heading to Bushwick’s premiere movie house if you’re in the mood for, you know, a movie—and their programming is frequently fantastic, ranging between old favorites, theme weeks, and new-to-new-ish releases (it's a good place to catch up on Oscars nominees/winners a month later)—Syndicated is the only spot on this list that could feasibly serve as a destination for a movie-free evening of fun. Their massive main bar area has two giant projector screens, surround sound, and high ceilings. Those screens either show old movies or attract a big crowd for events like the Golden Globes or even the finale of The Bachelor. The drinks and specials are fantastic, and the food is probably tops of anywhere on this list—keep your eye on the Hot Mess Chicken Sandwich, which balances fried chicken in a sweet and spicy package that will have you salivating for at least a day after you’ve wolfed it down.
Located at 40 Bogart St, Bushwick (718-386-3399, SyndicatedBK)
Alamo Drafthouse (Evan Romano/Gothamist)
Alamo Drafthouse Downtown BK The Alamo Drafthouse at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn is the holy grail of NYC eat-in theaters. Housing everything from new release blockbusters and quirky and/or provocative indies (I just saw A24’s new Gaspar Noé film Climax here, and MY GOODNESS) to special curated showings, this is your best bet to find the movie you’re looking for in a cool, fun, movie buff-friendly environment. It’s important to arrive well before your movie showtime; that’s the best way to take advantage of the House of Wax cocktail bar, featuring endless beers on draft along with signature cocktails (with creepy horror movie faces, arms, legs, etc. all around you in a dimly lit space).
As soon as you find your seat and notice the movie-specific pre-show programming playing on screen, you’ll have a chance to take a look at the in-seat menu that is as wide-ranging as you’ll see at any theater of the sort: they have drinks of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety, main dishes, snacks, salads, dessert. When I went, the front of the menu was advertising a special menu for the release of Harmony Korine’s new film The Beach Bum, which featured Lobster Fondue and a can of PBR, which is about as on point as you can get.
445 Albee Square W #4, Downtown Brooklyn (718-513-2547, Alamo Drafthouse Downtown BK)
iPic Theatre (Evan Romano/Gothamist)
iPic Theatre If you’re feeling fancy —and I do mean fancy—the iPic theater in the Fulton Market is the spot for you. This luxurious film haven is home to not only the Drafthouse/Nitehawk/Syndicated style of food service in your seat (though only at certain seats, more on that in a bit), but is also home to a full-service bar and restaurant upstairs, and extreme in-theater luxury. The seats here come in a tiered structure, with the front row of each theater modeled after a loveseat couch, and other seats coming with a brand new blanket and bottomless popcorn (some seats feature waiter/waitress service, while others require ordering from a bar/counter and bringing it to the seat yourself). The prices vary between mid-week to weekend, and again, be prepared to spend—tickets range from $16 - $30 during the week, and $20 - $34 during the weekends— but if you’re looking for the full Tony Stark-worthy experience for Avengers: Endgame, this might be as close as you can get.
11 Fulton St, South Street Seaport (212-776-8272, iPic Theatre)
Metrograph (Scott Heins / Gothamist)
Metrograph If iPic is aiming for the new, sleek, high-tech experience, Metrograph is going for the exact opposite: everything inside feels like you’ve stepped into a time machine, back to the era of the big studios and Hollywood’s golden age (I thought of the Coen Brothers movie Hail, Caesar!). The old school snack bar and coffee shop in the front lobby, to the finished wooden seats inside the main theater, Metrograph sure feels like a portal to a different era. The theater’s programming, additionally, is to die for. Between new movies you won’t be able to catch anywhere else, and repertory screenings of true and modern classics, this is a spot you’ll want to familiarize yourself with.
Unlike the other dine-in cinemas in this guide, Metrograph does not offer food service in the theaters, but the Metrograph Commissary, the luxury dining room and upstairs restaurant/coffee shop/hangout area, is a fantastic choice for a pre- or post- film stop. It is modeled after the hot spots where a moviegoer used to be as likely to brush elbows with the director of the film they just watched as their next door neighbor.
7 Ludlow St, Lower East Side (212-660-0312, Metrograph)
Angelika Film Center (Evan Romano/Gothamist)
Angelika Film Center & Café While not a traditional ‘eat-in’ theater like most of the others on this list, Angelika makes the cut due to an expansive in-house café that also serves as a coffee shop with WiFi during the daytime. Angelika is home to pretty much every independent, limited release that you could want to be the first to see, across five screens (when Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight debuted in a super-limited release back in 2016, this was where I was among the first to check it out). In addition to the stellar on-screen programming, Angelika also frequently hosts film-accompanying Q+A’s with actors, directors and more.
18 W Houston St, SoHo (212-995-2570, Angelika Film Center)
AMC Dine-In Staten Island 11 (AMC Theaters)
AMC Dine-In Staten Island 11 For those looking outside of Brooklyn/Manhattan, the newest addition to the eat-in field is AMC’s Dine-In located on Staten Island, which opened its doors in February. This location sports power recliner seats, and the ‘Delivery-to-Seat’ model, where guests order food at a counter and have it brought straight to their theater seat (typically before the movie even begins), which promises for minimal viewing distractions. As the theater is essentially brand new, the alcoholic beverage service isn’t quite ready yet, but having seen the full bar on display at the Riverside Mall (Hackensack, NJ) location, once it’s ready, the bar will be locked and loaded.
2655 Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY (718-285-7529, AMC Dine-In SI)
Evan Romano is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who primarily covers culture. He is always open to talking about The Big Lebowski, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, VICE, MTV News, and Esquire.