Alamo Drafthouse -- Lakeline

14028 N US Highway 183, Bldg F, Austin, TX 78717
(512) 861-7070

Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline Ribbon-Cutting

The Lakeline location is the newest and biggest Alamo Drafthouse in the Austin area, with 10 screens. The general consensus is that the theater layout, features and quality are very similar to the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter location. Like Slaughter, the tables are to one side of each seat, and you share with a neighbor.

The design theme for this theater is Planet of the Apes. Lakeline has a small adjoining bar, Glass Half Full, with indoor and outdoor seating (and the patio has fan misters).

Pros: Lakeline is a brand-new theater with ample parking. As with Slaughter, the seating is designed so the front row is still a pleasant viewing experience. The servers are a step below each seat, so they won't get in your line of sight. The stairways are wider than other Drafthouse locations, making it easier to get in and out.

Cons: The servers are a step below each seat, which means you need to be careful when getting in and out of your seat (especially in the dark -- especially if you've been enjoying the Drafthouse alcoholic beverages). Rush-hour traffic up 183 North can be nasty and often lasts until after 7 pm.

Most Drafthouse screenings now have reserved seating. I'll leave it to you to decide whether this is a pro or a con.

Screens and capacity:  The capacity of each screen (including wheelchair-friendly seating), plus special features:

  • Theater 1 -- 34 seats
  • Theater 2 -- 44 seats (set up for RealD 3D)
  • Theater 3 -- 118 seats (set up for 35 mm)
  • Theater 4 -- 140 seats
  • Theater 5 -- 136 seats (set up for RealD 3D)
  • Theater 6 -- 136 seats
  • Theater 7 -- 142 seats
  • Theater 8 -- 118 seats
  • Theater 9 -- 44 seats
  • Theater 10 -- 34 seats

All screens are set up for Sony 4K digital projection.

Parking: The parking lot is huge -- no worries here.

Distance: Lakeline is far enough north that we can debate whether it's in Austin or Cedar Park. (I'm not going to get out all the maps again and make an official ruling right now, though.) It's a good 30-minute drive downtown. Public transportation is available in the area but isn't easy to work with if you're not a Cap Metro veteran. It is not a bike-friendly or even pedestrian-friendly part of town.

On-site food and beverages: Alamo Lakeline offers a full menu for lunch and dinner, including an extensive beer menu (32 beers on tap) and full bar with specialty cocktails at Glass Half Full. The menu is slightly different from other Drafthouse venues in Austin. Brunch is available on weekends through early afternoon.

Nearby dining options: Please read Debbie's excellent "Fantastic Fest 2013: North Austin Cuisine and Libations" guide for an in-depth look at what's available in the area.

Wireless/reception: No word yet on whether Lakeline has wireless access. We've heard the cell phone reception up there is poor for some carriers -- more info as Fantastic Fest progresses.

[Photo credit: "Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline Ribbon-Cutting" by Jack Plunkett, used with permission from Alamo Drafthouse.]

Topfer Theatre at ZACH

202 South Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
(512) 476-0541

Zach Topfer Theater - Austin, Texas

The Topfer Theatre is a fairly new theater, having opened in September 2012. It's designed for live stage performances, but is also used as a movie-theater venue for some film festivals like SXSW.

Pros: It's the second-biggest venue at SXSW, so it shouldn't be difficult to get a seat at most screenings.

Cons: It's not in the middle of downtown, so allow yourself some extra time for the shuttle. During the Music fest, the shuttle route to/from downtown can often slow to a walk, so plan accordingly.

Screens and capacity: Topfer seats 420.

Parking: Very limited. You can't use the parking lots reserved for Zach Theatre. Most street parking is residential permit only. This is not a good location to park for a full fest day -- plan to park downtown or near another venue (like the Long Center) and take the shuttle.

Distance: You can walk to just about any non-satellite venue from here if you're a good walker.

On-site food and beverages: Topfer has a good bar setup inside, with some snacks available too.

Nearby dining options: If you're in a hurry, there's a Scholtzsky's right down the block. Go down to Barton Springs and try the venerable Green Mesquite BBQ if you have a little more time.

[Photo credit: "Zach Topfer Theater" by Peter Tsai of Peter Tsai Photography. Found on Flickr, used with permission, all rights reserved.]

Alamo Drafthouse -- Slaughter

5701 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin TX 78739
(512) 476-1320


Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane, known as Alamo Slaughter, has 8 screens of varying sizes, and an adjacent tequila bar, 400 Rabbits.

Pros: Like other Alamo Drafthouses: pre-show clips, food and beer. The theater chain has a serious "no talking/texting" policy during screenings. This is a relatively new theater with some very comfy seats and spiffy new projection and audio equipment.

Cons: If you don't live in the neighborhood, the far-south location can be a bit of a drive. The table-for-two layout takes some getting used to -- you might like the back row, where the tables are on the sides rather than in front. The seats aren't on risers so the waitstaff are at your level when they walk down the rows.

Screens and capacity: Eight theaters with stadium seating varying in size from 32 seats to 200-ish, all with Sony 4K digital. The theater does not have 35mm projection equipment.

Parking: Parking can be tight, especially on weekends, especially since NxNW opened nearby. If you haven't been here before, the one entrance is on Slaughter Lane -- be watchful and don't pass it up, because it can be a pain to get back there again.

Bus routes: The theater is well out of range of any Cap Metro route at this time, we're sorry to note.

Distance: Alamo Slaughter is nearly 12 miles from the center of downtown Austin. If you're zipping between venues and events during a film festival, allow a minimum of 20 minutes to get here from downtown, not allowing for traffic.

On-site dining options: Full menu including wine, beer and cocktails (we're told we should try the Paloma and the Dark & Stormy). You can view the Alamo Slaughter menu, which also includes helpful hints on the ordering process, and information on gluten-free and vegetarian items. Try the veggie burger, with a locally made veggie patty. In addition, 400 Rabbits has a full bar and a half-dozen snack options (many with magical pork).

Nearby dining options: North by Northwest shares a parking lot with Alamo Slaughter so you can walk right over there before/after a movie. You can drive over to William Cannon (one stop up Mopac) for more places to eat.

[Photo credit: "Alamo Slaughter lobby" by Jodi Bart of Tasty Touring. Found on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701
(512) 495-9600


Violet Crown Cinema opened in downtown Austin in the summer of 2011. The movie theater has four screens, all with digital projection -- the largest one seats 50. The programming is primarily independent, arthouse and foreign-language films. Your ticket gets you a reserved seat and four hours of free parking in a garage adjacent to the theater. This is an excellent venue for a movie-and-dinner evening downtown, but you can also have drinks, snacks or a light meal at the theater.

Although Violet Crown serves food, it's a different system than Alamo Drafthouse. You arrive at the theater early, sit at the bar or in one of the lounge areas, and place your order there. You can bring your food and drinks into the theater -- the seats have little pull-out tables that might remind you of school desks.

Pros: Seats are reserved. There's no extra charge for buying tickets online, either. And that four-hour validated parking downtown is a blessing. If you are here for a film festival, many of these amenities don't apply; however, you still can order food here and enjoy the very comfortable seats. The first row of each theater has big lounge chairs that make up for sitting so close to the screen.

Cons: The theaters are small, so order your tickets online well in advance, or get here early if you're seeing a festival film.

Screens and Capacity: Six screens of varying sizes, none of which seats more than 50. The capacity of all four screens combined is about 180, and SXSW 2015 uses all four screens for each screening time at ths venue.

Parking: Park in the AMLI garage on San Antonio, around the corner from the front of the theater. Get your parking ticket validated, and you can enjoy four hours of parking. Please note that the parking deal does not apply for SXSW filmgoers.

Distance: Violet Crown is in the Second Street district of downtown Austin. It's a little further from Austin Convention Center than Paramount or Ritz. However, you can walk to Rollins/Long Center and Topfer Theater/Zach Scott from here much more easily than any downtown venue.

For SXSW 2015, the Film Fest Flyer shuttle stops a few blocks away, on Second Street at Congress Ave.

On-site dining options: Violet Crown has two types of food/beverage options. At the snack bar, you can walk up and buy popcorn, soft drinks, cake balls and other treats. The bar and cafe, where you can order from the lounge areas, offers a full cocktail bar and menu items such as a cheese plate, salad, pizza and hot dogs.

Nearby dining options: The Second Street area of downtown is known mostly for its upscale bars and restaurants, but there are some affordable options. Jo's Hot Coffee, a couple of blocks down Second Street toward Congress, has sandwiches and salads (and some good vegetarian options). Lambert's, across the street, has a very affordable weekday happy-hour menu (Jette recommends the chickpea appetizer.)

[Photo credit: "Violet Crown Cinema" by Jodi Bart of Tasty Touring. Found on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

Stateside at the Paramount

719 Congress Ave., Austin TX 78701

State TheaterStateside at the Paramount, formerly known as the State Theatre, is next to the Paramount on Congress Ave. downtown. The theater, which dates back to 1935, was previously used for live performances, and in 2006, was seriously damaged by flooding. It is fully equipped to show movies or host live performances.

Pros: The theater is right in the middle of downtown film-fest action. The theater seats are extremely comfortable and spacious, with good legroom.

Cons: It's downtown, so parking can be challenging. You are not supposed to shoot video in the State Theatre at any time, and depending on the event, you may not be allowed to take still photos either. Hide your water bottles in your bag or purse before you get to the entrance, because ushers are on the lookout for external food/drinks.

Screens and Capacity: The theater seats 298.

Parking: No theater-specific parking. You can park in nearby garages or on the street in metered spots (watch the maximum time, though). Parking at St. David's garage (E. 7th) is reasonably priced if you want to avoid the hassle of finding a spot on the street, although their rates often increase during special events (like SXSW, or some weekend nights).

Distance: You can walk to Alamo Ritz, Austin Convention Center, Violet Crown and many downtown hotels, bars and restaurants. Alamo on South Lamar is too far for a walk; grab a cab or find a ride. A cab stand is located on the southbound side of Congress and Sixth, a couple of blocks away.

On-site food and beverages: Standard movie-theater concessions, like candy and soft drinks.

Nearby dining options: Roaring Fork in the Stephen F. Austin hotel a few doors down offers weekday happy-hour food specials at the bar. Thai Passion has quick lunch specials and good service all day long.

If you're looking for a pre-movie cocktail, try the second floor of the Stephen F. Austin and sit out on the balcony, which is perfect for people-watching.

[Photo credit: "State Theater" by define23 (Rebecca) on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.]

Alamo Drafthouse -- South Lamar

1120 South Lamar Blvd., Austin TX 78701


Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar reopened in August 2014 after a major remodeling of the strip mall in which it was located -- which is currently a giant mass of construction surrounding the theater. However, the Drafthouse and its adjoining parking garage are completely done and available. Alamo South Lamar is a popular location for many local film festivals.

Right now, the rest of the development is still under construction. The theater and bar look great but they're surrounded by a lot of chain-link fence and during the day, large machinery.

Pros: It's an Alamo Drafthouse, so the audience is generally well behaved (put up a flag if it's not). And of course you can enjoy food and a variety of beverages with your movie. Seating is reserved.

Cons: It's popular, so order your tickets online if you can. The garage can get really warm -- Don jokes that it's the oven for the theater's kitchen. The outdoor patio is gone, and there's really nowhere comfortable to sit outside the theater.

Screens and Capacity: Nine theaters with stadium seating, varying in size from 46 seats to 198, all with Sony 4K digital but still capable of showing 35mm films (#1 and #2 seat 46, #3: 63, #4 and 5: 198, #6 and #9: 126, #7 and #8: 86).

Parking: Park in the adjacent garage, which you can (and should) access from Treadwell. If it's full, be careful about parking in the neighborhood -- most of the streets are now permit-parking only.

Distance: You can't walk to downtown movie theaters (or bars) unless you're into serious hiking, but you can take a bus or find a friendly Austinite with a car. A cab from the theater to downtown isn't expensive, but taxis are unlikely to hang around, so be prepared to phone. Make sure the cab service has your name so they won't drive off with some other film geek.

On-site dining options: South Lamar has a full bar and dinner menu, with a brunch option early on weekends and special occasions. You can view the regular menu and current specials on the South Lamar menu. Whether you're vegan or need more meat on your fries, you can always try hacking the menu.

Nearby dining options: The Highball is immediately adjacent to the theater -- in fact, there's a door connecting them now. You can get small plates and a few entrees. Other nearby options:

  • Walking distance: Luke's Inside Out trailer right across the street for griddled sandwiches; Verts for cheap and filling kepabs (German sandwiches with kebab fillings); Odd Duck for fancy-ish small plates; Uchi for trendy spendy sushi.
  • A short drive: Kerbey Lane is open 24 hours and has great pancakes and burgers; Barton Springs has a whole row of restaurants including Green Mesquite (bbq), Chuy's (Tex-Mex) and Shady Grove (chili cheese fries!); the flagship Whole Foods at Lamar and 6th has a lot of prepared foods available, including made-to-order sandwiches, and is a great stop for vegetarians and vegans. And if all fails, there's always Taco Cabana.

Coffee (and wireless) break: About two blocks further south down Lamar (away from downtown), you'll find a Starbucks in a strip mall across the street from Saxon Pub. Further than a walk, drive north to Barton Springs Road, then turn right to Austin Java.

[Photo credit: Alamo South Lamar by Mike Saulters, all rights reserved.]

Austin Convention Center (ACC) Theater at AFF

500 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78701


Austin Film Festival's two theaters at Austin Convention Center (ACC) are a temporary setup. They are not in the same location as the ACC theater that is set up during SXSW. One theater is located in Meeting Room 18, the other in Ballroom E. We don't know the seating capacity at this time, but they usually seat from 175-300 people.

Pros: The theaters are large, so they're a good bet for passholders and people who want to buy tickets. The theaters almost never sell out, and the seats are pretty comfy. The location is excellent -- a short walk from the heart of downtown, with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.

Cons: Since it's a temporary setup, sometimes the picture and sound quality are not ideal. Also, get to ACC early your first time if you don't know how to find the room -- it's a big venue.

Parking: Pay to park in the garage next to the convention center, which is usually more economical than other parking garages in the area. In fact, the ACC garage may be an affordable option for keeping your car downtown all day during the conference.

Distance: You can walk to the Paramount and Alamo Ritz, and to the conference venues. Texas Spirit Theater is a little far for a walk; Rollins Theatre at the Long Center is manageable if you're not in a hurry.

Food and Beverages: Skip the convention center itself unless you're seriously dying of hunger or in need of coffee. Outside, you'll find some good, affordable spots like Iron Works, PF Chang's, and Mongolian BBQ. Cedar Door is a nice place for a Mexican martini. These places can be swamped at lunchtime, so you might want to walk a few blocks more and explore Austin's many downtown lunch options.

Wireless: Probably unavailable. You may need to find a nearby coffeehouse or restaurant.

Regal Gateway 16

9700 Stonelake Blvd., Austin, TX 78759

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S I H 35, Austin, TX 78748

Regal Lakeline Mall 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Blvd., Austin, TX 78613
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