Best Movie Theater — Food and Drink 2016 | Alamo Drafthouse Cinema | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

The food-at-the-movies concept has been around since the birth of the concession stand, back in the '50s, but the idea of eating a whole meal at the movies is still a relatively young one. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain has long been the leader of the pack in figuring out how to serve food to audiences while maintaining a great film-going experience — from a staff well versed in the art of ninja service to menus that cover a range of culinary tastes. And you won't soon forget the Alamo after trying one of its special-menu craft dinners or movie-influenced feasts.

In 2015, Regal Entertainment Group made a big change at the multiplex atop the Denver Pavilions: The company reduced the number of seats in the auditoriums and replaced them with ultra-plush recliners, at the same time ushering in an era of reserved seating at the theater. The new seats provide a level of comfort that you've probably never felt at a cinema before: At the push of a button, they recline to a near-lying-down position, while a little swivel table keeps your popcorn, candy and drink at a safe distance and out of your lap. Even a bad movie looks better from this angle.

Readers' choice: Alamo Drafthouse

The Black Actors Guild has been entertaining the Mile High City on stage and in classrooms since 2009, when a group of students from the Denver School of the Arts created the versatile theater company. Over the past half-decade, the troupe has produced full-length theater shows, taught youth acting classes and absolutely killed it on stage with its regular Show Ya Teef improv show, which has been running for more than two years. Recently, the Guild introduced some of its best work to date with the web series Behind the Smile. Addressing race, class, relationships and intimate connections between friends with subtle humor, Behind the Smile captures what makes the group so irresistibly watchable: its sheer amount of raw talent. The series is part reality show and part fictional behind-the-scenes look into the lives of these young comedians, actors and improv masters, who make up one of the best acting ensembles in the Denver spotlight right now.

Beginning last September, Denver's Warm Cookies of the Revolution civic health club took to the road to visit the city's neighborhoods and learn what issues people in different metro-area communities are thinking about as the region suffers through dramatic changes and growing pains. Each inroad culminates with a monthly Stompin' Ground Games neighborhood Olympics event that introduces attendees to each community's culture and concerns with a mix of performance and group problem-solving. The spirit infusing these events is strong, and each stop gets people talking. We can only hope the games will continue beyond the currently proposed yearlong stretch.

Local curator-at-large Cortney Lane Stell teamed up with RedLine founder Laura Merage to create a new model for art museums with Black Cube, billed as a nomadic museum that's ready to travel, unfettered by any adherence to place. The name refers to a shipping container that serves as the pop-up venue's gypsy caravan and portable shop, but it also refers conceptually to the museum's blank slate, where anything is possible. The nonprofit has no collection, but instead partners with artist fellows to craft personalized exhibits; in 2015, Stell collaborated with three residents to cast video-mapped imagery on the cliffs of Red Rocks during a ceremonial performance, raise a giant blow-up sculpture in Civic Center and launch a conversation-starter installation about bad architecture inside a construction site. In 2016, Black Cube is taking to the road; its first venture this year — Denver ceramic artist Stephanie Kantor's Mock Pavilion — is just ending a monthlong run in San Antonio. Visit the website to keep up with future developments.
Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum Facebook page

Art museums shouldn't be scary places, but there's something daunting about one that's been devised as a temple to one artist. Though director Dean Sobel and staff have done much to ensure that the venue's changing exhibits offer fresh perspectives on Clyfford Still's vast legacy, some people respond better to more user-friendly incentives to visit. Last year, the Still tested those waters with a pilot program that included educational and public presentations with the price of museum admission, as well as totally free entry on Friday evenings. It was so successful that the museum will continue the freebies in 2016, enticing new audiences inside its handsome doors for lectures, concerts, tours and other events.

MCA Denver

Denver artists flipped for MCA's new I'm an Artist program, which offered free membership cards to the first 1,000 Colorado-based creatives to apply. Wisely recognizing that working artists comprise a symbiotic and core user group for any contemporary art museum, MCA's act of kindness represents a rare give-and-take with the community. It might have worked too well, though, as there's now a waiting list for future applications. But chin up: Current cardholders must visit the museum at least three times in a year to be renewed. It will be interesting to see how many new spots open up next fall.

The History Colorado Center went through a shakeup last year, and in the process, some of its programming — which had thus far been failing to capture the public's imagination — was re-evaluated. Signs of the museum's fresh start began to pop up, including inexpensive Tiny Library Concerts in the intimate confines of the center's Hart Library and the Who Knew!? Everything Old Is New Again exhibit series, which unearthed hidden treasures from little-seen museum collections, including Colorado cannibal Alfred Packer's gun and stadium seats from the old Mile High Stadium. After all, a museum should be a place that one goes back to again and again for new experiences, and these are healthy signs that the History Colorado Center is back in the business of being just such a destination.

Colorado State University's already fine Avenir Museum fashion and textile collection kicked off the year in style with the grand opening of a spacious renovation that more than doubled exhibit, classroom and storage space. Four new exhibits are currently on view in the campus's world-class fashion showplace, including Mr. Blackwell: Artist of Subtle Witchery, a display of items from the museum's extensive Mr. Blackwell collection — the largest on the planet. The show runs through mid-August, but it's only the tip of the Avenir textile iceberg. Consider this an open call for Colorado fashionistas looking to be wowed.

The member-driven Art Gym constitutes a whopping 17,000 square feet of creative workspaces, including shared studios and tools for printmaking, metalsmithing, dancing, sculpting, performing and more, as well as a fully equipped commissary kitchen, a gallery space and an in-house coffee cafe complete with pastries by Lucille's Artisan Confections and healthy snacks from Wong Way Veg. For $100 a month, it's an artist's home away from home. Stop in to check out the digs at monthly gallery-show openings.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of