First Look: Movie Tavern

Be sure to check the end of this article, The Movie Tavern has offered up a $25 gift card for us to give away.
From the very first time I walked into the famed original Alamo Draft House in Austin I’ve wanted something like that for Little Rock. Alamo will likely never come to our fair city, but the newly opened Movie Tavern fills a lot of that need and is a better fit for the area anyway. We got a chance to check out the theater a couple of weeks ago at a VIP party, and walked away with a positive impression.
The concept revolves around an all encompassing experience of food, drinks, and entertainment. Walking in the door you will get it right away. There is no ticket booth barrier impeding entry. In fact it is perfectly acceptable to just walk right on in, no one will look at you odd when you do. In fact, aside from a very non-threatening placed attendant that could be easily mis-identified as a hostess, you could easily believe you stepped into a small sports bar instead of a movie theater.
The bar and lounge area dominates the front entrance. You will find a traditional bar setup, shuffleboard table, and a lounge area that wraps around a fireplace. My movie experience lately has been ordering online, selecting tickets, and showing up at the last second as the previews are ending. The Movie Tavern’s setup makes you want to come hang out for a bit.
From the bar you can easily move to your theater seats and bring any food or drink with you. It all works much more seamless than expected.

From the drinks you can find a small selection of local crafts like Flyway and Lost Forty along with a few other regional crafts and the expected lineup of mass market domestics in addition to a manageable wine list. The cocktails tend to lean more toward the over sugary concoctions that you get from a chain restaurant, but certainly better than any other movie experience around.
On the food side things are naturally a gigantic upgrade from the popcorn, hot dogs, 3 day old pretzels, and mystery cheese sauce nachos you usually get from a movie theater. In fact there seems to be a big upgrade just from opening day at Movie Tavern to now. We heard some mixed reports on food when they first opened, however a recent seasonal menu update seems vastly improved.
You will find a wide variety of menu items including burgers, wings, sliders, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. They even have things like a steak and shrimp option if you really want to make a meal out of it. You can additionally get brunch specials on Sunday. The prices are surprisingly reasonable for a movie theater. Most entrees run in the $12-14 range, apps are almost all under $10.
Inside the theater itself it is an interesting mix of modern recliner seats and traditional seating. The main screens are still large theaters, so it is not quite the limited seating and oversized chairs of the other recliner seat theaters in town. However they allow for extra space between rows to accommodate the recliners and servers coming through the theater.
From the food experience side, the lighting is not nearly as dark as most theaters, so you can see what you are eating. That was a concern of ours going in. Each seat has an attached tray table for food and a call button for wait staff. The wait staff are surprisingly good at taking orders, delivering food, and keeping up with you while not interrupting the movie.
Overall it is a welcome addition. Spaces like this and the recently opened Dust Bowl lanes do a great job of combining dining and entertainment in one location. It is a trend I expect to see continue in a big way over the next few years.
Want to check out Movie Tavern? They were nice enough to give us a $25 gift card to check it out. Instead of keeping it for ourselves, we want to give it away. Drop your name and email below and we will pull for a winner this Friday.

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