Alamo Drafthouse Theater (****)

Posted on January 1st, 2004 in Houston by mynagirl

http://www.drafthouse.com

West Oaks Mall
Westheimer & Highway 6
Houston Texas
(281) 556-0204

The Alamo Drafthouse is what I’ve long hoped for in a movie theater: a place where I can go watch a first-run movie and also have a decent meal served to me while I watch. It’s pure heaven. I can’t even describe it. If you haven’t gone, GO! Seriously. I know it’s a schlep if you don’t live over on the West side, but it is WORTH it. I know you may think you know how great it would be to get your meal brought to you during a movie, but until you’ve experienced it, you just can’t know how wonderful it is.

We’ve been twice now, once for a first run flick (Kill Bill, Vol. I) and once for a classic film (The Hustler). Both times have proven that the Alamo knows what they’re doing. Seating opens 45 minutes before the show. The theater room is organized into rows of cushy captain’s chairs with groupings of narrow bar-style tables in front of the chair rows. We’ve gone early so that we can kibitz, order the majority of our food and drink, and then ease into the movie while we’re still eating. The wait staff is great; they explain the setup if you’ve never been, and they do a remarkable job of taking continuing orders / bringing refills after the show’s started without disturbing your enjoyment of the movie. Once the lights are out, orders are handled via paper clipped to the table with a minimum of whispering. They continue service throughout the movie, including bringing you popcorn (made with real butter!) if you’ve got room after eating a whole meal.

Alamo has expanded their concept beyond just movies; I know they do this same great theater and food concept for football (college and professional, I believe) and they have a “Mr. Sinus 3000” series that invites you to deride a ridiculous film in the company of other jeerers. (On our recent trip the promised make-fun-of show was Crossroads, Britney Spears’s road trip movie). The venue often offers more than just a movie for your admission price; when we went to see The Hustler the evening’s program included a 20-minute book reading from a local author who’d written a book on pool halls and 1960’s bachelor culture. We hadn’t really been expecting this facet to the event, but there were other patrons who’d clearly known that this was part of the whole deal and had bought a signed copy of the book before being seated.

The menu itself is wonderfully expansive while not being excessively foofy: burgers and fries (but the deliciously grilled burgers are served with chipotle mayo) but also veggie pizza, garden burgers, sandwiches on focaccia bread, and inventive salads. There’s also a decent beer and wine selection, a full bar with selections like homemade sangria and Italian sodas, and an extensive dessert and coffee menu. Appetizer choices include chips and queso, stuffed jalapenos, mozzarella sticks, and similar fare.

The entire experience is truly nothing short of wonderful, and if you’re a dinner-and-a-movie type, I highly encourage you to combine the two experiences and give the Alamo Drafthouse a try. Just wait until that first appetizer hits your table while you’re in your seat. You’ll think you’re in heaven, too.

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