Whether you're planning a romantic date night, evening with friends or just trying to escape the Texas heat, Austin's independent theaters are a great place to have a uniquely Austin experience—think specialty screenings of tried and true classics, themed nights and first looks at new films. Grab a bite to eat around town and treat yourself to a good ol' moving picture. Here are some of our favorite spots to catch dinner and a movie in Austin, Texas.
If you find yourself downtown, the Paramount Theatre is the place to go. There are few things quite as satisfying as experiencing films in a historic theater, the way they were meant to be viewed (played in 35mm and 70mm when available). At the annual Summer Classic Film Series, showings range from black and white movies to 80's classics like Dirty Dancing and The Goonies. Before the show, grab a bite at Swift's Attic, just a five minute walk from the theater. Try a variety of farm-to-table, sharable plates in a retro-chic, historic space. After the show, keep with the theme and grab drinks at Roosevelt Room. Taste popular cocktails from every era (from 1880s to present day) in a historic 1920s building.
Explore West Sixth Street for pre-movie drinks and yummy local restaurants. Plan to eat dinner at Irene's—a stylish, yet casual diner serving up an inventive menu. We recommend the steak sandwich, made with flank steak, provolone cheese, garlic aioli and chimichurri sauce. Or spice it up with a jalapeño-infused cocktail and the buffalo cauliflower to share. Don't forget to try a slice of their iconic strawberry cake before you go; it's just as tasty as it is pretty! Once dinner is over head to Violet Crown Cinema. This small arthouse cinema is a bit of a hidden gem. The chic interior and cozy lounge make for a perfect hot weather escape or evening date with friends. Pick up an aptly-named cocktail or mocktail (such as the Bonnie and Clyde or Sundance Kid) to enjoy with a warm pretzel or air-fried tots and queso before settling in for a flick in the spacious theater lounge seats.
Stop by East Austin’s effortlessly cool Salty Sow for happy hour (available daily!) or dinner before the show begins. This American gastropub eatery and bar is classy and relaxed, putting a unique spin on farmhouse dishes with locally sourced ingredients and fresh flavors. Immerse yourself in a movie at Blue Starlite Drive-In, just a few minutes east of Salty Sow. Watch favorites like The Sandlot and Indiana Jones from the back of your car with tasty concessions. Only using rideshare to get around town? No worries—Blue Starlite has walk up only screenings with individual seats (no cars allowed). Bring your own blanket to get cozy when the weather is cool.
Visit Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar for the best new indie film, your favorite classic or a fun, interactive sing-along/quote-along. There’s always a nice variety of local beers on tap at the lobby bar, French press coffee and if you’re craving something sweet, the shakes can’t be beaten (also in adult form). You don't even have to leave the theater for a full meal. Their menu is extensive with a variety of starters, salads, sandwiches, pizza and more. If you want to grab dinner before, you have to try Jjim BBQ. The industrial-chic space combines the funky character of South Austin with the rich and savory flavors of Korean barbecue. After your show, stop in at Lick Honest Ice Creams for a seasonal artisan scoop.
Hanging out north of downtown? Chill on the expansive patio at Easy Tiger before catching a movie at AFS Cinema. Munch on a menu of homemade sausages, giant soft pretzels and artisan sandwiches served on Easy Tiger bread. Wash it all down with a cold class of beer before heading out to your show. AFS Cinema was created by the Austin Film Society to shine a spotlight on Texas filmmakers. Reserve a seat at this modern, 2-screen venue for indie and foreign films with a full bar and concessions.
Looking for more ways to get your film-fix in Austin? Check out our Film Tourism Guide to visit the filming locations around Austin of some of the most iconic movies in history.