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Dinner and a Movie Under One Roof: Arlington Cinema ’n’ Drafthouse Expands

You know the feeling. The movie’s over, but it’s still all that you can think about. The drama or comedy you just witnessed on screen still seems real and relevant. You step out of the theater and walk down a long hallway to the lobby with an almost heavy heart, unwilling to admit that it was all just make-believe.

For the duration of that walk, you overhear the conversations: “I thought that was wonderful.” “It sucked.” “What did you think of Denzel?”

Then the crowd files en masse into the outdoors, the conversations stop, and you return abruptly to reality.

It doesn’t have to be that way at the Arlington Cinema ’n’ Drafthouse, which recently added a new bar and restaurant, the Old Arlington Grill, to the premises. With eight beers on draft, popcorn to snack on, and a full dinner menu, this small, slightly gritty bar is a fine spot for moviegoers who aren’t quite willing to let the magic of the silver screen dissipate into the night air.
The Old Arlington Grill is sparsely decorated, letting its six small screens and one big screen (usually showing a classic movie) do the talking. Although the restaurant may be dead during movie time, patrons stream in after a showing to discuss what they’ve just seen over beer and cocktails (including a list of mini-martini specials for $4).

The decor isn’t exactly thrilling: 12 hospital-white tables scattered in an off-lobby enclave with drab, empty walls. (Where are the movie posters? This is a place that begs for some kitsch.) The direct view into the kitchen from the bar further diminishes the experience. The food is simple bar fare (appetizers $6 to $8, entrées $14 to $22). Our hamburger ($6.95) was juicy and tasty.

Still in its infancy, the Old Arlington Grill isn’t a destination in and of itself. But if you’re looking for a quick nightcap where movies are the thing, it’s hard to go wrong here.

2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-486-2345. Open Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday 5 PM to 1:30 AM (closing times are flexible depending on the last movie showing).

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