Summer movie season is here, and Hollywood is rolling out enough upcoming features to keep you in line at the box office all season long. Whether you’re going out to the theater or to the video store, get in the mood for your films of choice by visiting a similarly themed restaurant beforehand.
We’ve given you a few ideas to get started. And remember, most restaurants offer takeout for those low-key nights when you feel like noshing on the couch.
FOR THE ACTION LOVER Food: Best Hong Kong Dining, 1116 S. Dobson Road, Suite 123, Mesa. (480) 655-8262. Unremarkable from the outside, the hanging fowl, tanks of live fish and crustaceans and authentic Asian dishes and service give this diner the distinctive feel of a Chinese marketplace. Flick: "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" (2003) or "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," in theaters, starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Darryl Hannah and David Carradine. A female assassin attacked on her wedding day wakes up from a five-year coma and seeks revenge in a bloody, kung fu-fortified fury.
Backup pick: "Five Deadly Venoms" (1979), directed by Cheh Chang. It’s not the best storytelling out there, but the nonstop wall-crawling action and garish face masks and costumes make it fun to watch.
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE A GOOD STORY Food: My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, 525 S. Mill Ave., Tempe. (480) 966-5883. The menu promises Mediterranean cooking "created by the gods," including Greek specialties such as spanokopita, tyropita and patitsio. Flick: "Troy," in theaters May 14, starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. Achilles, the most fierce and acclaimed warrior in Greek history, leads the charge to rescue the wife of the Spartan king in this epic legend.
Backup pick: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (2002), starring Nia Vardalos and John Corbett. A Greek woman falls for a non-Greek man and struggles to come to terms with her heritage and cultural identity in what has become the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time.
FOR THE INDIE LOVER Food: Orange Table Cafe, 7373 Scottsdale Mall, Suite 6, Scottsdale. (480) 424-6819. A hip shade of green, polished concrete floors and contemporary art give this hard-to-find cafe’s atmosphere as much style and creativity as its menu. Flick: "Mayor of Sunset Strip" now showing at Harkins Camelview 5, 7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale. This indie documentary follows Los Angeles disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer’s star-studded trip through glitter and grunge as a rock fan, journalist, promoter, club owner and radio personality on the Sunset Strip.
Backup pick: "The United States of Leland," now showing at Harkins Camelview 5, starring Don Cheadle and Kevin Spacey. A seemingly ordinary student commits a devastating, inexplicable crime, forever changing for his family, friends and the teacher who becomes obsessed with trying to figure out why.
FOR FAMILIES Food: Organ Stop Pizza, 1149 E. Southern Ave., Mesa. (480) 813-5700. More tolerable for grown-ups than Peter Piper Pizza, this place offers up family-pleasing food and "The Mighty Wurlitzer," one of the largest theater organs in the world. Flick: "Shrek 2," in theaters May 21, starring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. Newlyweds Shrek and Princess Fiona journey to the princess’ homeland only to find her parents are less than delighted by their new son-in-law. The soundtrack boasts new tunes from Counting Crows, Tom Waits, Pete Yorn, and a cover of David Bowie’s "Changes."
Backup pick: "Kangaroo Jack" (2003), starring Jerry O’Connell and Christopher Walken, plays on the inflatable outdoor screen 7:30 p.m. today at Kiwanis Park, 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe. A different family movie plays every Friday through May 21; call for schedule. Free. (480) 350-5189.
FOR THE PLAYERS Food: Kai at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Gila River Casino, 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler. Reservations recommended. (602) 225-0100. This is no early bird buffet. James Beard Award-winning Chef Janos Wilder is consulting chef for the restaurant, which is renowned for its menu selections. Flick: "Casino" (1995), starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. This sprawling tale makes viewers feel like eavesdroppers, displaying all the decadence and filth involved in running a modern Las Vegas casino.
Backup pick: "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. A lonely alcoholic who goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death forms an uneasy friendship and pact with a prostitute.
FOR THE SPORTS FAN Food: Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill at Bank One Ballpark, 401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix. Reservations required on game days. (602) 462-3506. It’s a bit of a drive, but dinner overlooking third base at one of the coolest ballparks around is an experience to be savored like a quarter-pound Diamondbacks Dog with extra mustard. (FYI: You might want to save this one until the D-Backs go on the road again May 17.) Flick: "The Natural" (1984), starring Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Kim Basinger and Glenn Close. Baseball fanatics have been known to watch and rewatch this classic, a cinematic shrine to the national pastime overlaid with a timeless tale of good versus evil.
Backup pick: "Eight Men Out" (1988), starring John Cusack and David Strathairn. This tale of the year the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series has been called the most underrated baseball movie of all time.
Film and feast made easy
What: Farrelli’s Cinema Supper Club — This "restaurant that shows movies" offers the latest features on the big screen, with tiered seating, a full wait staff, food ranging from burgers and sandwiches to steak and seafood, and a full bar.
When: Open seven nights a week. Call for features and showtimes. Reservations strongly recommended.
Where: 14202 N. Scottsdale Road, Phoenix
Cost: $6 movie tickets are added to your dinner bill, which is presented near the end of the show.
Information: (480) 905-7200 or
What: Personal chef Toni Belveal delivers a movie of your choice and a multiple-course gourmet meal that mirrors the film’s theme.
When: Make reservations at least a week in advance.
Cost: Around $150
Information: (480) 982-0971
What: Papa John’s Pizza delivers a large or extra-large pizza and your choice of one of three DVD movies, yours to keep.
Where: Papa John’s locations across the Valley
Cost: $16 to $22
Information: (877) 321-7272 or www.papajohns.com