Studio Movie Grill vs. AMC Esplanade 14: Dine-In Theater Throwdown

Amy Edelen

Over the past few years, the dine-in theater concept of combining restaurant-style cuisine with first-run movies has gained popularity. With just the push of a button, moviegoers can enjoy tableside food service and cocktails from luxurious leather seats while watching the latest blockbuster.

In 2011, two dine-in theaters, Studio Movie Grill in Scottsdale and AMC Esplanade 14 in Biltmore opened their doors for business. So which theater has the best overall dining experience? Read more to find out.

See also: Lux Central vs. Chloe's Corner: Quiche Crush

Amy Edelen

In this corner: AMC Esplanade 14

The Setup: Located across the street from Biltmore Fashion Park, AMC Esplanade offers 14 stadium-style auditoriums complete with a full bar and menu including flatbread pizzetas, burgers, shrimp pasta, salads and more. There is a centrally located lobby bar, MacGuffins, for patrons to discuss movies over drinks.

Amy Edelen
MacGuffins bar, located in the lobby of AMC Esplanade

There are two types of theater setups -- Fork and Screen, which is similar to a traditional theater, except with fold-out tables for food. The Cinema Suites are smaller, more intimate theaters that boast plush red leather recliners and serve only patrons 21 years or up. You can order food throughout the movie; however, most guests order early so it arrives before the movie starts. Checks are delivered about a half-hour before the movie ends. Ticket prices range from $7.50-$9.75 for the Fork and Screen theaters and $10.50-$12.50 for the Cinema Suites, depending on what time of day you go. Moviegoers are able to reserve seats ahead of time via the website or at the ticket kiosks.

The Good: I opted for the Cinema Suites ticket and crispy chicken tenders, which were served with seasoned fries and honey mustard for dipping. The food came out quickly, within 10 minutes of ordering. Although I thought the theater setup would be distracting with servers taking people's orders during the movie, it wasn't too noticeable.

Amy Edelen
Chicken tenders at AMC Esplanade

The Bad: The chicken tenders were $12, and although I expected the food prices to be higher than usual, the chicken tenders tasted similar to what you would find at McDonald's, which was hardly worth the price.

Location Info


AMC Esplanade 14

2515 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Film

Biltmore Fashion Park

24th St. & Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Studio Movie Grill

5515 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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I was under the impression that the Alamo Drafthouse was the originator of the dine-in theater. They've been doing it since 1997, when did Studio Movie Grill start?


Great showdown choice! I like both of them, but since they aren't really close to one another, I always opt for AMC just about ten blocks from me. They have a lime chicken sandwich that is outstanding. I often times don't select the movie that I want anymore, but go by whatever is showing at Cinema Suites. And I agree with you that the servers provide little to no distraction.

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