Nestled on the periphery of Williamsburg is a place called Nitehawk Cinema. Self-described on their website as “New York’s original cinema eatery,” it’s a movie theater experience that simultaneously addresses two of the loves of its indigenous population: good food and great movies.
Desperately seeking a nice place to take in Before Midnight with my girlfriend, Debra, my roommate, Mike, suggested Nitehawk for a cinematic double date with him and his girlfriend, Lindsey. Before I even had a chance to say yes, he’d booked four tickets and texted me the address. His hastiness in booking our tickets turned out to be fortuitous. The cozy venue only boasts about 50 seats per theater, so sellouts aren’t uncommon. By the time I’d arrived, shortly before the feature started to roll, the theater was already filled to capacity. Thank goodness for careful planning.
Debra had thoughtfully ordered me a soda, but having arrived straight from work, I decided I needed something more substantial. At first, I was worried I’d have to settle for a meal of popcorn, but luckily Nitehawk boasts a full dinner menu with a house blend burger, fish taco, and a number of other diverse and vegetarian alternatives for those with more refined tastes. I was the only one partaking in the food menu that evening, but my roommate Mike (who is a regular patron) had plenty of personal favorites to recommend. The theater also features a number of cinematic tie-in dishes and drinks. Some of the other items on the menu included a Bling Ring-themed club sandwich and a cocktail named “The Driver” in honor of Ryan Gosling. An attentive waitstaff is on hand to take your order while you watch the show, hence the theater’s ample legroom. Such a thing may sound like a distraction, but somehow the staff’s presence doesn’t interfere with screen visibility at all. Just beware of crossing servers when stretching out your legs.
This being a theater in Williamsburg, the cinematic selections are decidedly outside the mainstream. In addition to that evening’s screening of Before Midnight, other current films included Frances Ha — the latest offering from The Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach and Neil Jordan’s indie vampire thriller Byzantium. Nitehawk also features regular showings of classic films from a variety of cinematic eras and genres. Coming attractions include weekend shows of Ghostbusters, Memento and the anime film Metropolis. On the Fourth of July, Nitehawk also had a showing of the Steven Spielberg classic, Jaws — a favorite of mine that Debra had never seen. Unfortunately, my tardiness in booking tickets resulted in us missing out on the show due to a sellout. Let this be a lesson to book a few days ahead when planning a visit.
Quibbles such as this aside, the theater is a unique and fulfilling experience for cinephiles and food lovers alike. The food is on par with any local bistro one would find a few blocks over in Williamsburg and the films are decidedly eclectic. I personally found it refreshing that a local theater offered such a diverse selection of movies both mainstream and independent. Any theater that screens Memento, Ghostbusters and Before Midnight in the span of one day is worth visiting and re-visiting as far as I’m concerned. This is precisely what I plan on doing when the opportunity comes around again.
Having lived in North Brooklyn for nearly two years and loved it, one of the only things I’ve found the area wanting for was a movie theater. Sure, I love the independent book stores and coffee shops, but I missed being as close to a movie house as I was in my old neighborhood of Park Slope. With Nitehawk just a stone’s throw from my current abode, it’s good to know I won’t have to be wanting for one again. Nitehawk’s menu of fine food and eclectic cinema defines its neighborhood perfectly. It’s the kind of place I’ll go out of my way to visit. You should too.