Bar Beat

Drinks at the River Oaks Theatre Lounge

One of the things I miss most about Austin is the Alamo Drafthouse on Sixth Street. True, there's a Drafthouse in Houston, but it's far away from my house and the food isn't as good. Sorry, Houston. Austin wins on this front.

With its second-floor bar and innovative snack selection (vegan cookies! caramel corn!), The River Oaks Theatre, however, is a decent alternative when I'm looking to wine and dine at the movies.

After an afternoon showing of Another Year, we stopped by the Lounge for a cocktail along with what seemed like at least a quarter of the audience. (Apparently, we weren't the only people to require a drink after this brilliant but depressing film.) The bartender greeted us pleasantly, mixed me a terrific cosmopolitan, and quietly resumed eating his microwaved Indian leftovers and watching the Pro Bowl. Although I tend to prefer chatty bartenders, I liked his laid-back, unobtrusive attitude. It felt appropriate to the lounge, with its worn, cozy couches and muted décor.

A sign in the bar proudly proclaims something like "Yes, you can take your drink with you." While I very much appreciate the ability to booze it up at the movies, this policy is not so great when the audience contains people who 1) don't clean up after themselves (ahem, twenty-something hipsters) and 2) have night vision that's less than stellar (ahem, aged folks and/or the Vitamin A deficient).

On another recent visit to the theater, for example, I exited to the sound of breaking glass as some unfortunate man stumbled over the remains of a fellow patron's glass of wine. Mental note: Wear closed-toe shoes at the River Oaks Theater and eat plenty of carrots.

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Joanna O'Leary