With the Oscars just around the corner, many of us are spending more time than usual sitting in the dark and catching a flick. Sure, you can go to your neighborhood AMC, grab a large popcorn and your movie candy of choice (Milk Duds, duh!) and pass an enjoyable two hours. But if you're looking to elevate your movie-going experience, here are some local theaters truly taking it to the next level.
Formerly known as the Arlington, this small theater is near Ballston. It usually has one or two screenings per evening, and some daytime showings on the weekends. Everyone must be 21 years old or accompanied by a 21 year old.
Positives: Wide selection of food (appetizers, salads, burgers, pasta, pizza, dessert) and alcohol (beer, liquor, wine, including bottle service) that can be brought to your seat during the viewing of the film. The actual auditorium also provides different types of seating with traditional stadium seating, tables and front row seats. The auditorium also doubles as a space for live performances, such as comedy acts.
Negatives: Very few showings, at most three a day.
Located in Northwest D.C., the aesthetics of E Street are second to none. Several local media outlets have declared it the "best movie theater in D.C." multiple years in a row. It boasts an old-school, 1950’s-esque style. Classic movie posters and vintage carpets and wallpaper make this seem like you’ve gone into a time portal back to when movie theaters were the classiest joints in town.
Positives: An impressive selection of wine, beer and liquor. They boast about their wine selection, which can be purchased by the bottle or glass. Stadium seating is available in all of their auditoriums, with the previously mentioned overall aesthetic being another major plus for this theater. This is also located near tons of restaurants and bars in the surrounding area for post-show dining.
Negatives: Not as wide of a selection of food to purchase. You’ll have to stick more to a liquid diet.
Tucked away on the ground level of a Shaw apartment building, this quaint theater was one of my favorites. It is very small, with only a handful of auditoriums, but it also has a bar area with tables. The actual auditoriums are small, but cozy in size.
Positives: Full-service bar area with beers on tap, top shelf liquor and a selection of wine. The auditoriums seat no more than thirty people, but the screen is still large. These smaller auditoriums make for a very intimate and enjoyable theater experience.
Negatives: Basic theater food only.
Inside the Mosaic District in Merrifield, is the relatively new Angelika Theater. Perched next to Matchbox, this three level theater has much to offer beyond movies. There is a bakery and café on the first floor, a concessions stand on the second floor and a full-service dining area on the third floor.
Positives: Pastries, coffee, tea and other bakery items are available in the café area on the ground floor. The second floor has a standard concessions stand, including flavor-infused popcorn -- which is a cool process to watch happen -- and some gourmet hot dogs and nachos. Beer and wine are also available. I was also personally mesmerized by the “butter button” that rains real or fake (depending on your preference) butter on whatever item you desire. If you decide not to eat at the theater, the surrounding Mosaic District has ample restaurants and bars to visit pre or post movie.
Negatives: Honestly, we can't really think of a downside for this one!
Situated in Bethesda, Maryland, Arclight includes a nice café area with a menu that boasts small finger foods, liquor, beer and wine.
Positives: Super nice café area with tables to sit and enjoy upscale appetizers, including pork belly sliders and poke. You can also order a wide selection of beer, liquor and wine.
Negatives: Not much of a selection of signature food. Also, as a Virginia boy, it’s in Maryland. Eww.
Located in Ashburn in the Loudon One area, this theater is a unique experience rivaled by very few. You can order from your seat, with waiters who come around during the viewing of the film to take orders, from bits of paper that are placed in front of you, and bring them to you during the film. You pay your check before the end of the film, so you can just leave after.
Positives: Full menu of burgers, salads and pasta, with beer, wine and liquor. For special films, Alamo creates themed food and drink specials to accompany the movie. You fill out a form and place it in a slot in front of your chair, and a waiter comes around and brings you the food. They also have special screenings of older films, with interactive elements as well.
Negatives: For those living near D.C., this is a hike to get to.