Sugar-Soaked Bites and Luxury-Laced Nights Theatre Box

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Talk about sitting in the lap of luxury. The saying rings true with a visit to The Gaslamp Quarter’s newest cinema: Theatre Box. I love a good movie date night and the experience is elevated when you’ve got an oversized, reclining leather seat to enjoy it from. And even better? You can order wine and oh, so much more from your seat. I’m in.

Now, I’ll admit, I was a fan of Reading Cinemas before its closure back in 2016 where Theatre Box now stands. There was something eerily romantic about the old spot, which was typically a ghost town inside. A questionable crowd would camp out on the streets outside, the aroma indoors smelled of burnt popcorn and the carpet was covered in soda stains. Regardless, I liked it. So, when my partner in crime and I arrived at Theatre Box one rainy night to check things out, let’s just say, we weren’t sure what we were in for.

Theatre Box, courtesy of Haley Hill Photography

First up, dinner at Sugar Factory American Brasserie. This bright, pop culture-soaked restaurant is located on the first floor of the space. Music is bumping and the energy is high. Maybe because everyone in the joint is jacked up on sugary-filled sips and snacks? Videos of Scott Disick and the Kardashians play above you and servers are running around with desserts topped with sparklers and 32-ounce goblets of colorful cocktails. We were absolutely okay with the organized chaos – it was fun, and we caught the buzz. Dinner was damn good and the service? Even better. Executive Chef Carlo Alonso is at the helm of the kitchen and knows what he’s doing. The menu offers everything from pan-roasted salmon to monster burgers sandwiched between glaze-coated donuts dusted in powdered sugar. It’s a 12-year-old’s fantasy land but equally suitable for an adult’s palate.

Sugar Factory Donut Burger at Theatre Box, courtesy of Haley Hill Photography

The two of us shared the Sugar Factory Rainbow Sliders. Think mini burgers aligned on a plate with Roy G. Biv-soaked buns. The patties were cooked to perfection and you couldn’t even taste the purple. We also had the Prime New York Steak Sandwich with sautéed onions and mushrooms on a toasted baguette topped with provolone and parmesan cheese and mustard aioli. Honestly – everything was very good. A couple of gummy worm-filled goblets later and we headed up the escalator to catch M. Night Shyamalan’s newest release: Glass.

Remember when you would go to the movies a decade or two ago? Your date would order some popcorn, sodas and candy from the concession stand and you’d awkwardly carry everything back to your rickety old chairs and sit in a 90-degree angle for the next hour-and-a-half. Not here. We were escorted to our leather recliners, kicked back and ordered a few drinks during the previews. Ah, it was heaven.

So, the cost of all this? Well, let’s just say it isn’t cheap but well-worth the splurge for an over-the-top night out at the movies. Best news ever? Go on Tuesday nights for the $5-dollar movie night experience. Any movie, any Tuesday – five bucks. Five bucks! Movie night out just got that much better.

701 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101


Paige Nordeen is a food and wine enthusiast who skips around from one San Diego joint to the next and writes about it. Questions, comments concerns? Give her a shout at [email protected].

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