Fan-Favorite Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Chain Finally Arrives in Boston

With heated, reclining seats, strict rules against talking and texting, and a full menu, this is a truly luxurious movie-watching experience.

One hallway of a movie theatre is decorated with colorful signage advertising Alamo Drafthouse.

Alamo Drafthouse. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

If your idea of a perfect movie theater experience is eating a full, scratch-made meal and drinking craft beer or a cocktail at your very comfortable, heated seat—while any nearby talkers and texters get kicked out—you’re in luck. Alamo Drafthouse, the Austin-based cinema chain with an obsessive legion of fans, finally arrives in Boston on November 17. The Seaport location, Alamo’s 40th, is the first in New England. (It’s also the first to have those heated seats, which is going to be really nice come winter.) Expect themed menus around big releases; viewing parties with props (the usually strict talking/texting rules don’t apply—get ready to shout, sing, and quote along); and a fun combination of ultra-popular new stuff, obscure older picks, and everything in between.

Two rows of seats in a movie theatre. They're living-room style recliners with cup holders and trays.

Alamo Drafthouse’s living room-like seats are comfortable—and, at the Boston theater, heated (a first for the 40-cinema chain). / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

“We are a film, food, and fun organization,” says Alex Shebar, Alamo Drafthouse community marketing manager for the East Coast, emphasizing the company’s focus on creating a “vibe.” It’s a pretty sizable chain these days, but it does what it can to avoid a corporate feel. Community collaborations help: Alamo’s Seaport location, for instance, has partnered with Dorchester Brewing on an exclusive beer (a hazy IPA). The rest of the beer list is packed with selections from other local brewers, currently including a Notch pilsner, an Ipswich oatmeal stout, a Night Shift hazy pale ale, and lots of other familiar Greater Boston brews, plus some options from farther away. You can enjoy those beers (and cocktails) at the lobby bar, dubbed the Press Room, or right at your seat in the theater—and the Press Room’s open to all, even if you’re not seeing a film. Expect fun community events to happen there, too, from speed dating to board game nights, and be sure to sneak a peek at the functioning printing press.

A bar area is full of printing plates for old movie advertisments.

The Press Room, Alamo Drafthouse’s lobby bar, features lots of local beers on tap and a collection of old printing plates—not to mention an actual functioning printing press. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Also keeping locations unique and tied to their regions, each Alamo has its own visual centerpiece: Here, it’s a huge metal sculpture of the Iron Giant, a nod to the 1999 sci-fi film The Iron Giant, which was based in Maine. (Alamo Seaport is showing two screenings of it on its first two days in business; they’re already sold out.)

A tall metal sculpture of a giant stands on a pile of debris in a high-ceilinged building lobby with a city skyline visible through the windows behind.

Each Alamo Drafthouse location has a centerpiece; the Seaport location features the Iron Giant. (The film takes place in Maine, and this is the company’s first New England location.) / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Plus, 98% of Alamo’s food menu is made onsite, says Shebar. The company also embraces the scratch-made ethos when it comes to its pre-show, a replacement for the usual ads that run before movies. At Alamo, it’s things like “weird, wonderful clips that have to do with the movie,” he says, many of which are made in-house.

Old film poster printing plates are displayed on a wall near a colorful sandwich board advertising newer films at a movie theatre.

Printing plates advertising old Boston-themed films decorate the ticket counter at the entry to Alamo Drafthouse Seaport. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Once you make it to your seat—which you chose when you bought your ticket, so there’s no hassle when you get there—you can recline, turn on the heat, and peruse the menu. Ordering is open throughout the film; the process is silent and seamless, with staff notoriously good at delivering food and drinks without disrupting the viewing experience. The classic buttered popcorn comes with unlimited refills, but you might want to venture into the specialty selections, like churro. And since Alamo is based in Texas, you’ll definitely want to try the chips and queso, a Hatch green chile concoction with cotija, cilantro, and the option to “make it beefy.” New to the southern wonder that is queso? “If you like warm, melty nacho cheese, you are absolutely gonna like queso,” says Shebar. “It’s one of those things that as soon as you try it, you’re like, great, now I need to eat this forever.”

Old spy film posters in Italian line the walls of a movie theatre hallway.

Italian spy film posters from Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League’s collection decorate the walls. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Overall, the menu is a customizable mix of comfort food with a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options: Think sandwiches, big salads, pizzas, chicken tenders, and the like. For dessert, there are a few classic cinema candy choices as well as milkshakes (optionally boozy) and cookies…and a cookie milkshake. Plus, the current selection of specials includes a winter-friendly hot cocoa menu (optionally spiked).

In a dimly lit bar area, the focal point is a wall with signage reading the Press Room and the rest of the wall covered in old printing plates for movie advertising.

The Press Room, the lobby bar at Alamo Drafthouse, neatly abuts the entrance to neighboring venue Grace by Nia (located to the right, just out of frame). / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

If, somehow, you don’t eat and drink your fill at Alamo Drafthouse, it’s right in the heart of a flurry of new Seaport developments with lots more to check out. You don’t even have to leave the building for a couple nightcap options: The cinema’s third-floor lobby is shared with restaurant and jazz club Grace by Nia—perhaps you want to catch some live music after a movie?—and back on the ground floor of the building, new Caribbean-inflected restaurant and cocktail bar Zazibar is making a stir. Spicy mango mojito, anyone? And you’ll have to go outside for this one, but right on the next block, the extravagant holiday market Snowport is up and running through the end of the year. Seaport’s looking pretty fun these days.

The entrance to a movie theatre features Alamo Drafthouse neon signage and a bar area.

Alamo Drafthouse. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Alamo Drafthouse Seaport, 60 Seaport Blvd. #315, Seaport District, Boston, 617-927-9560,