Last week, we ran a preview of chef Ronnie New’s menu for the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE NEW MISSION—which is currently in soft opening mode until the grand opening this Thursday December 17th for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So if you’re curious about seeing the space over the next couple of days before the grand opening, you can catch a movie for just $5 and get half off on all food and nonalcoholic drinks as they finish training.
I swung by last night to have a look-see, and I have to say, it’s so great to see a movie palace reopen and come back to Mission Street—it was a multimillion dollar restoration and retrofit. There are quite a few Deco details (the theater dates back to 1917, but was updated in the 1930s), and movie buffs will want to check out the vintage movie posters in the lobby.
There are five theaters, and Theater 1 is the biggest one with 326 seats—the other four range from 37-94 seats. This is Alamo Drafthouse’s first theater in California (they started in Austin, Texas—from owners Tim and Karrie League—and now have 21 locations), and this is the first theater in North America equipped with Sony’s 515DS Dual-4K projector, offering Sony 4K Digital, RealD 3D, and archival 35mm and 70mm capabilities.
All seating is assigned and can be reserved at the time of ticket purchase online or in person at the box office. Tickets are $13.25, and matinees are $9.25 (before 6pm); add $3 for 3D movies.
Alamo Drafthouse cinemas are known for their fun programming (including classic, indie, and more), their strict no phone/texting/talking policy, and the stealthy ninja servers who bring food and drinks to your comfy seat while watching a movie. There are menus tucked under each table (with a discreet light) and you place your order with the slips of paper and small pens provided.
There is an art to eating in the dark, and I’ll be totally honest, someone dribbled some of their trademark queso on her jeans last night, so be sure to spread a napkin over your lap (and maybe leave the winter whites at home). You can read over highlights of New’s menu here, which includes all kinds of popcorn, deviled eggs, pizza, and lovers of spicy and crunchy and fried things will want the Nashville hot chicken sandwich. The pancetta mac and cheese was restaurant quality and piping hot. You definitely want to try the warm cookies—you can get a trio of cookies, but I gotta tell ya, the peanut butter banana positively begs for a boozy adult milk shake (which is on the menu)!
Speaking of booze: just last night, I managed to visit the bar in its first 30 minutes of being officially open. To recap, it’s called Bear vs. Bull, and Isaac Shumway (previously Tosca Cafe, Alembic, Bourbon & Branch, and Heaven’s Dog) is the bar director. It has quite the entrance, and the wood bar, comfy swivel barstools, and dim Deco lights make it feel cozy and like it has been there for decades.
Shumway has created an extensive list of drinks, starting with three on tap: the bright Far Eastern Nitro Gimlet, a Boulevardier, and The Immortal Singapore Gin Sling. There are nine other cocktails, which would make Charles Baker proud (I tried the Surf Club Mangareva, with Calvados, honey, coconut-washed Cointreau, lime, and cracked ice—and it came in a custom-made pottery cup). And then there’s a long list of boilermakers, four frozen and blended drinks, plenty of California wines, and a massive array of beers (27 on tap!), with some large-format picks.
You can take your drink to your seat, and you’ll be able to order from a smaller menu of cocktails while in the theater too (but if there’s really something you want off the Bear vs. Bull menu, they’ll probably be able to accommodate you). I have to say, the fact I can order some Roederer Estate Brut Rosé ($15) or Wind Gap Trousseau Gris ($12) while watching a movie is pretty amazing. Sundance Kabuki, you are on watch! And a shout-out for the bike corral in the front. Follow along on Facebook for updates. 2550 Mission St. at 22nd St.
The vintage neon sign is restored and aglow at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. Photo: © tablehopper.com.