If you're planning a date night or an evening out with friends, save on travel time and do dinner and a movie at the same place. Studio Movie Grill, which opened last June in Wheaton's Rice Lake Square, serves food and drinks in the theater and offers plenty of other programming to keep people coming in even when they've seen everything other theaters are showing.
Motif: The lobby lounge offers a bank of TVs where you can watch the game before or after your movie, relaxing on the big chairs and couches or high-backed chairs at the bar. Inside the theater, you'll find plush seats equipped with cup holders, tables and all the leg room you could want.
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Studio Movie Grill301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton, (630) 480-9557, studiomoviegrill.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Along with showing first-run Hollywood films, Studio Movie Grill also hosts a variety of alternate programming at discount prices. For $1 you can get a ticket to the monthly "Girls Night Out" series showing films such as "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "Ghost" or "Brews-n-Views" showing guy-focused films such as "Old School." They also offer $1 screenings of classic movies such as "Stripes" and "Sneakers," some of which are accompanied by a discussion with members of the Chicago Film Critics Association. Another film series pairs movies about medical issues or children with special needs with a Q-and-A with a specialist in the field. For football games and the recent Blackhawks postseason, Studio Movie Grill has also drawn plenty of sports fans by showing the games inside the theaters. The eight theaters can be rented out for private parties.
Crowd: You'll find lots of families here during the day taking advantage of the matinee screenings. The spot also gets a decent lunch crowd, with locals just coming to eat at the bar without catching a movie. At night, you'll find a mix of people as eclectic as the film lineup hanging out and having a cocktail before taking their movie seats.
Food: Pizza is a hit here, especially on Wednesday when it's all-you-can-eat for $9.95. Studio Movie Grill offers some thin-crust pies like the Tuscan, topped with big slices of tomato, melted mozzarella cheese, olives and basil. Burgers and steak sandwiches also are popular. While we loved the street tacos, made with sweet pulled pork and plenty of cilantro served in a soft shell with chips and salsa, they might be leaving the menu soon in favor of another variety of quesadillas because they're admittedly tricky to eat in the dark. Other menu updates coming soon include more chicken sandwiches and a shrimp dish.
Liquid consumption: Margaritas are the most popular drink here, mixed in a variety of flavors and served frozen or on the rocks in fish bowl glasses. You'll also find some novel specialty cocktails like the amaretto apricot sour, mixed with brandy and cherry vodka for a fruity and sweet flavor. Along with pouring your standard beers, all Studio Movie Grill locations put a few local options on draft with Goose Island 312 and Two Brothers Domaine DuPage appearing here. You can get half-price margaritas Mondays and half-price draft beers Thursdays.
Service: Pressing a button on your table quickly draws a server to your theater seat. We found everyone there friendly, knowledgeable and happy to make recommendations.
Parking: There are plenty of free spots available in the theater's parking lot.
Overall: You won't have to worry about rushing between a restaurant and the theater if you spend your movie night here.