Daytrip: Alamo Drafthouse, Winchester

Kirsten Parmer -- November 25th, 2009

Guest blogger Kirsten reports on her recent stop in Winchester’s recently opened Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

“Who’s business plan was this?” I wondered after downing a pint of Guinness Stout and a festive Dogfish Punkin Ale. Half of me really was in awe about the idea of eating and drinking while you watched a movie, but the other half of me was rather incredulous about how this could possibly ever be a good idea.

My friends and I had stopped at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester on the way home from a weekend in DC. It’s a chain, but this is the only one outside of Texas. Steve, the bartender, suggested that the brilliant minds at corporate threw a dart at a map and that’s why we were sitting in the movie theater lobby at barely two in the afternoon on a rainy Monday well into our second beer.

The draft house works by seating patrons about a half hour before the movie starts. This gives you enough time to look over the menu which includes everything from burgers and salads to popcorn and Twizzlers. You write your order on a piece of paper, fold it lengthwise and stand it on end in the little ledge, making a “flag” for your server. You can also “flag” people for being loud and annoying, babies for crying, and if after three beers you’re pretty damn funny like we thought we were, you can flag your friend for wearing a bad combination of stripes. Like I said before, who thought this would ever be a good idea?

Still laughing about the stripe incident, we wrote down our order of burgers and another round of beers (“extra large”) which sent our server off giggling, too. The food was nothing special but fun to eat in that setting. We chose to jump on the bandwagon and see “New Moon”, so while we were pleased that our food and beverage combo made the film better than expected, it also prompted my friend (the one with the bad stripes) to lean over and say she was going to take a little nap. Part way through we decided Milk Duds were necessary, so we made yet another flag asking for “Milk Duds with a candle. It’s her birthday” assuming that, from our previous behavior, our server would know we were joking. Instead she came back with a free slice of cheesecake and birthday wishes for my friend who was totally mortified. We passed it and back and forth while Bella saved Edward from the Voltari. About 30 minutes before the end of the movie, they make last call and bring the tab, so that by the time the movie ends you are free to go. While it certainly has its potential “hazards” (think frat boys, high school girl feuds, and tipsy 38-year-olds), it is a really fun way to see a movie with friends, or kids, or on a date. With tons a great movies coming out in the next two months and lots of good shopping in that area, Winchester just might be the perfect daytrip for the holidays.

Kirsten Parmer was the food writer for eightyone magazine from 2006 until its closing in 2009. She loves nothing more than having a reason to eat out with friends.

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8 Responses to “Daytrip: Alamo Drafthouse, Winchester”

  1. Thanks for the write-up, Kirsten. When I was living in Austin, the original Alamo Drafthouse downtown was quite possibly my favorite place on earth.

    There were other franchise locations, but the original stuck mostly to campy, foreign and bizarre flicks. But the menu looks pretty much the same. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  2. Kelly says:

    i want to go to there

  3. Kris says:

    Having participated in this outing, I would do it all over again!

  4. Thanh says:

    This place sounds fun. I had never heard of it before today. Great review and post. Thanks Kirsten!

  5. Arlington has had a Cinema and Drafthouse ( ) for decades…the concept is not exactly new…I believe it was in operation when I was in junior high school.

  6. Joey Groah says:

    The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse seems pretty great, I’ve only been there once. The food was good, and the event was well run (it was a sneak peek of ‘Hot Fuzz’ with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost with a screening of ‘Die Hard’ before).

    Seemed like it was a lot of live stand-up during the week, at least on the calendar I saw.

  7. Vonya Womack says:

    I can’t believe I missed this …with the flagging of the bad stripes and all. All the while you beehas were drinking beer and watching a movie…or napping….some of us were on the ChinaTown bus back to Phili contemplating what the orange boots just might do for us if we actually had them the next time we went out. I love your writing and you girlfriend.

  8. Steve says:

    Hey, Kristen. I am one of the owners at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester. I just ran across your review while doing a google search. We are designing a new website, and we had some previous issues with Google posting links for Alamo in Austin when people requested Winchester. So anyway, thanks for the kind words.

    All of the owners live in or near Winchester, which is why we chose the location. We hope to open another location in the next two years, hopefully closer to DC.

    We always have special events, and have some upcoming special screenings and live events (stand up comedy on July 8!). I hope you and your friends consider coming back for another visit. Check our current website at for upcoming events.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

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