Saturday, January 22, 2011

Munching at the Movies: Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse

Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse

I am not normally a movie snacker.  With the exception of the occasional $5 Diet Coke, I hardly ever consume the sugar infused, mass-produced array of over-priced, over-sized standard movie-fare.  But the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse presents a different opportunity, with waiter service and a menu that claim to be a step up -- albeit a small one in some cases -- from your average theatre. Food options range from pizza to chicken fingers to salmon (!).  The beer selection rivals other local bars with pitchers of some dozen rotating craft brews available for around $20.

It took us Arlingtonians five years to finally give this place a try. Walking in is like stepping into (so I imagine) a 1970s lounge, with orange vinyl swivel chairs and carpeted wall art. Groovy...but I think it's only retro due to not receiving a makeover since then, and therefore is not the cleanest establishment.

Our sever made it very clear from the beginning that food will come out at varying times, so don't even think about complaining about pacing. The reason: people are seated at the same time, by virtue of this being a movie theatre and not a standard restaurant.  Got that?  Good.  But just in case you didn't, the menu, the movie screen, and your servers will remind you. And should you need your server's attention, simply put up your table-tent sign.

Taken on its own, the food is not great (in some cases really bad), but the experience is so much fun, and the beer free flowing that it is easy to overlook the food.  The nachos are topped with that cheez-whiz like substance reminiscent of the kind I used to enjoy with friends while scoping the crowd at the roller skating rink back in Worcester, MA.  Yes, I was that cool!  And while I hate to admit it, on this past trip, I enjoyed this nostalgia that came gratis with the overpriced nachos.

Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse: Chicken Finger Basket

The chicken fingers were probably the best food selection of the night.  Likely frozen, but nicely fried, crisp and juicy, and available with a zesty buffalo sauce. The pizza was doughy and awash in a not-so-flavorful cheese.  And we were not brave enough to try the salmon, so I can't comment on that one.

Is this going to be a world class culinary experience?  Nope.  Can the food anywhere near compete with other Arlington bars?  Unlikely.  But it does make for a really fun evening and a great cold January night out. Though I think for our next trip, we may eat beforehand and stick to the beer.  And while an affordable excursion with movie tickets at only $5.50 -- speaking from experience -- it is easy to run up quite the tab!

Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse on Urbanspoon


  1. If you think this place is retro, you should have seen it before the ownership changed hands a few years back. The movies, menus and furniture have all had a significant upgrade (maybe the furniture has been recently upgraded - the orange vinyl is now gone!). Quirky as it may be, it is a true Arlington gem.

  2. I can only imagine! And I agree with you...I am so glad places like this continue to exist and thrive in Arlington!

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head with this review. As a long-time Pike neighbor, I've enjoyed the Drafthouse for many years. I just wish they could get the pizza right. It's always doughy. I think an upgrade from the microwave to a real pizza oven would make a great local business even better.

    Also, Anon is correct, the red leatherette chairs are history.

  4. I never went such kind of place. I can guess only. I wish that I will also go such a beautiful place and enjoy there lot.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.