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Five Tampa movie houses to suit any taste

CineBistro opens this weekend in Hyde Park Village, bringing dinner and a movie together under one roof. • Think one-stop date night. No kids allowed. • Cobb Theatres launched the concept last year in Wesley Chapel and Miami and has plans for several more. Hyde Park's location replaces the old Sunrise Cinemas, which closed in 2006, leaving locals few options for watching independent films. • CineBistro will show new releases and indie films on its six theaters. Moviegoers will reserve seats online in advance or at the door. • It's more than a simple makeover. Crews gutted the old building along Swann Avenue and built everything from scratch in stylish browns and grays. They turned one of the theaters into a kitchen and added stadium seating in the auditoriums with leather chairs, swivel tables and even footstools for the first row. • Theater officials wanted to create a luxury experience at a time when many people are putting off expensive vacations and entertainment but aren't content to just sit home. • "People need an escape,'' said general manager Sandra Harrison. "They are still going to movies.'' • CineBistro may be the newest theater around, but it's not the only one with special features. Here's a look at five Tampa cinemas suited for any mood and budget. — By Susan Thurston sthurston@tampabay.com and Dalia Colón dcolon@tampabay.com

Britton 8

Where: 3938 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 839-5400 or (813) 839-1600

What's special: A no-frills theater, Britton 8 offers the cheapest prices in town, with equally cheap concessions. The theater also offers new Indian films to cater to Bollywood fans and the area's growing South Asian population. Combine a movie with shopping at the many discount stores in Britton Plaza, and you have a thrifty day out.

Type of films: Second-run Hollywood movies and new Indian films.

Number of screens: Eight.

Food and drink: Popcorn and soda are $1. Candy and nachos are $2.

Cost: Second-run movies are $2, and $1 on Tuesdays. Indian movies are $10 and $5 on Tuesdays. Cash only.

Centro Ybor 20

Where: 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa, (813) 242-0664, muvico.com

What's special: Valet parking along Ninth Avenue normally costs $10, but with validation from the movie theater, you'll pay only $3. And here's another plush perk: Four theaters with leather seats used to be designated for ages 21 and older; now every theater is all-ages, but those four rooms still have the comfy seats.

Type of films: Mainstream new releases.

Number of screens: Fifteen, all with stadium seating. The theater hasn't changed its name, despite being down five screens.

Food and drink: The concession stand, Hot Spot Meals, offers chicken tenders, buffalo wings, sliders, hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, nachos and more. Now that every theater is all-ages, with proper I.D. you can enjoy alcohol at any screening. Offerings include draft and canned beers, full liquor and wines. The bar is still 21 and older.

Cost: Tickets are $8 all day, every day.

Channelside Cinemas 10

Where: 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813)-221-0700, channelsideimax.com

What's special: If you've ever debated whether to hit the movie theater or the nightclub, then this venue is your one-stop shop. One of the theaters houses couches during the week for a cozy movie-watching experience. Then Friday through Sunday, the couches are removed and the room becomes Dolce Vita, a slick nightclub clothed in purple and black. With a separate bar, plus another on the private patio, Dolce Vita gets the party started with a rotating roster of deejays. To boot, the theater's lobby occasionally hosts fashion shows and other private functions, and Tampa Bay's Got Jokes? Improv troupe performs in one of the theaters on the last Thursday of every month.

Type of films: Mainstream new releases

Number of screens: Nine standard and one 72-foot IMAX screen that's five stories high.

Food and drink: The eats include Westshore Pizza, chicken fingers and cheesesteaks. Drinkwise, there's a full-liquor bar in the lobby, plus beer and wine at the concession stands.

Cost: Matinees are always $7. Evening prices depend on the movie: adults $9-$13, children and seniors $7-$11, and military and students $8-11.

CineBistro

Where: 1609 W Swann Ave., Tampa; (813) 514-8300; cobbcinebistro.com

What's special: Here's a chance to eat and watch a movie without moving an inch. Just order off the menu, and a server will deliver it to your seat before the opening credits. Seating is reserved, and all guests must be 21. Anyone not wanting to watch a movie can hang out in the lounge out front.

Type of films: Mainstream new releases and independent films. The opening weekend's lineup: Capitalism: A Love Story; The Stepfather; Couples Retreat; Law Abiding Citizen; Where the Wild Things Are; and The Boys Are Back.

Number of screens: Six.

Food and drink: Restaurant-style full food and drink menu. Entrees range from fettuccine al forno to sesame seared tuna and churrasco steak and frites. Appetizers, salads, sandwiches and desserts also on the menu. Wine and champagne sold by the glass and bottle. Speciality martinis and cocktails carry movie-inspired names, from the Usual Suspect Appletini to the Eating Gilbert Grape vodka drink.

Cost: Matinees are $12.50; movies after 4 p.m. are $14.50. Entrees and sandwiches run $12-$19.50, and desserts are $8-$9. Speciality drinks cost $8.50-$10. Unlimited popcorn is $5.75.

Tampa Theatre

Where: 711 N Franklin St., Tampa; (813) 274-8981; tampatheatre.org

What's special: Built in 1926 as one of the country's most elaborate movie palaces, the Tampa Theatre would have faced the wrecking ball in the 1970s had not it been for supporters who rallied to save it. Today, the downtown theater has become a local icon, drawing thousands of visitors annually. Other theaters might have more comfortable seats, but none have the ambience — or the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ.

Type of films: Modern independent and classic films.

Number of screens: One.

Food and drink: Popcorn, candy, sodas, beer and wine.

Cost: Matinees (before 6 p.m.) are $7 for adults and $5 for theater members. Depending on the film, evening prices range from $8.50-$12 for adults and $6.50-$10 for children ages 2 to 12, seniors, military and theater members. Tours are $5 for adults and $2 for children 2 to 12.

Five Tampa movie houses to suit any taste 10/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2009 5:17pm]

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