10 Dinner Theaters with Really Good Food (Slideshow)
November 4, 2013
These places know how to entertain you with food and theater
10) Germano's — Baltimore
In Baltimore's Little Italy, contemporary Italian restaurant Germano's has an upstairs performance space featuring myriad cultural events. From collaborations with the Baltimore School for the Arts, who recently presented the rock opera Our House, to cabaret artists and jazz ensembles, the calendar is chock-full, inviting diners to combine culture with cuisine. You won't be stuck with a fixed menu; a full small-plates menu is available, loaded with choices like branzino with grilled fennel and orange/lavender gastrique, and black squid ink risotto with mussels and squid; wines and craft beers complement the meals.
9) Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre — Golita, Calif.
You many not associate barbecue and barns with theatrical productions, but this venue at the Circle Bar B Guest Lodge, despite the isolated nature of the place (no Internet or phone service), is not short on ambition and has recently tackled The Importance of Being Earnest and Noises Off among other shows. The property, loaded with riding trails and all manner of outdoor activities, has a rustic and homey atmosphere with real-deal cowboys, and a charming barn performance space. The food is served buffet-style, but the down-home cookin' at this family-run place is delicious: tri-tip steak, chicken, mashed potatoes, chili, salsa, salad, and lemonade (though a full bar is available), and the congeniality created by the hosts make the theater as enjoyable as it can be.
8) Teatro ZinZanni — Seattle
This nonprofit arts organization supporting the circus arts puts on at least three new productions a year combining "cirque" acrobatics with skits, music, and gourmet fare for a vibrant evening. Though the menu can't be customized, it's never boring, and Teatro ZinZanni's sommeliers create "wine flights" to pair with meals according to your choice of vegetarian (currently a stuffed pepper with roasted tomato and fennel quinoa), seafood (halibut with fig and basil chutney) or meat (Kurobuta pork chop with apple-mint sauce) options. An arugula salad, Egyptian yellow lentil soup, and a flaky dough pyramid with caramelized onions, feta, and basil cream all complement the dinner selections.
7) Barn Dinner Theatre — Greensboro, N.C.
We've got to give props where they're due: The Barn Dinner Theatre is America’s oldest continually running (since 1964) dinner theater, and is from the era where actors' living quarters were above the performance space (the Barn's still got 'em). But these days there are added touches, like the hydraulic stage descending from the ceiling for shows and concerts both classic and contemporary, from The Buddy Holly Story to Motown tribute show Love Machine, the Musical. There's a traditional buffet (think honey-glazed ham) with many Southern items including fried okra and banana pudding.
6) The Fireside — Fort Atkinson, Wis.
For nearly 50 years, this family-owned dinner theater has brought high-quality productions to the area and is the only Actor's Equity venue in Wisconsin. The theater-in-the-round style makes the shows accessible to everyone, but some choose to go the Fireside just for dinner. In addition to their regular buffet and items like maple-walnut bread and salad with fruit over garden greens, there's a weekly Friday fish fry featuring entrées like steamed Atlantic cod with peppercorn beurre blanc, and special menus for their Christmas productions. The friendly staff is willing to accommodate special dietary needs, such as catering to those who are gluten-free.
5) Chanhassen Dinner Theatres — Chanhassen, Minn.
Producing classics like Fiddler on the Roof and a concert and cabaret series, this multi-stage complex is the largest Equity dinner theater in the country. They feature tableside dinner service with options like steak (with several add-ons available such as crab and béarnaise), tri-color cappelletti, and pecan-crusted chicken salad; patrons can pick their own seats from the seating chart, but all seats afford good views.
4) New Theatre Restaurant — Overland Park, Kan.
In the tradition of featuring famous performers, this professional dinner theater has an upcoming season full of recognizable names, including Connie Stevens, George Wendt, Judge Reinhold (and recently Dyan Cannon), getting top billing in shows like Never Too Late and Harvey. Both the setting and servers are gracious, and there is a buffet, of the "upscale" variety and well-tended, which features such selections as sweet pea mélange with dill, polenta, and pasta Florentine, as well as signature desserts like the overstuffed apple turnover.
3) Candlelight Dinner Playhouse — Johnstown, Colo.
With the tagline of "Exceptional Dining, Exceptional Theater," the Candlelight gives itself a lot to live up to. But what may appear to be an unlikely location in rural Colorado gives way to a charming experience in a lovely facility with a dedicated staff of performers. The dinner menu is surprisingly good and changes with each production; recent selections have included house-made Hungarian sausage, stuffed peppers with quinoa and roasted eggplant, and a salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese.
2) Alhambra Theatre and Dining — Jacksonville, Fla.
A classic since the 1960s, the Alhambra has seen the likes of Betty Grable and Cyd Charisse grace its stage, and after all this time it continues to draw talented professionals and put on first-rate shows. In 2011, the owners retired the buffet and turned their attention to full-service fine dining. A new menu is produced for each show; their menu for a recent production of South Pacific included macadamia-encrusted mahimahi and baked purple yams, plus a dessert of Hawaiian pineapple upside-down cake and a nice wine selection.
1) Midtown Arts Center Dinner Theatre — Fort Collins, Colo.
Midtown Arts Center, formerly Carousel Dinner Theatre, is flourishing with an arts academy, a young audience series, and educational outreach programs. Its dinner theater is but one (central) element, offering professional productions with the "Broadway...Up Close and Close to Home" series; with 236 seats, an Art Deco vibe, and a live orchestra, you may indeed feel like Broadway isn't so far away. Currently playing is Les Misérables; while Jean Valjean seeks redemption, you can dig into menu selections like chicken confit, prime rib, and pasta with seasonal vegetables; the desserts, such as toasted almond cheesecake, are standouts.