Our next pick for Off the Beaten Turf may not be so hidden (or off the beaten turf in the literal sense of the phrase, given that it is on Columbia Pike), but as the only dive bar/movie house in the area, we deemed it worthy of a post.
Seeing a movie at Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse (map) is pretty much the opposite of attending a performance at the Kennedy Center; the atmosphere could not be more laid back. The cushy seating, chicken wings, buckets of beer and big screen showings of second run movies for as little as a dollar make for a extremely casual environment. An active wait staff (when you want service, stand up a red flag on your table) means you can sit back with your feet up on one of the plentiful chairs, which are leather, high-backed and on wheels, like you might find in a lobbyist’s office.
The crowds get a little livelier than they do at other cinema houses, and the theater has a stage that hosts comedy shows on the weekends. As for movies, the owners pick up films a couple months after their initial theater run (they are currently showing The Ides of March and The Muppets) and occasionally show beloved oldies (like The Princess Bride and Fletch, both playing next week). On Mondays, you can get into a showing for one dollar; on Tuesdays, the price of admittance doubles.
“We offer high quality entertainment in a comfortable environment,” Colleen Godbuot, one of the owners, told UrbanTurf.
The Drafthouse has been around for 25 years, though the theater was built in the Art Deco style in the 1930’s. The cinema has garnered many Yelp stars, and the DC film society holds their Oscar viewing party there, so this gem seems to be well-known amongst film lovers (or maybe fried food, beer and hanging out lovers). Because of the beer and the dive-bar feel, those under 21 must come with a parent in tow (putting a damper on high school date night) and are not allowed in after 9pm. While there a couple other boozy movie theaters around town, Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse’s informality and ease put it in a category of its own.