8 Shows for Hungry People
Sometimes “dinner and a show” is literally that, with meals, snacks, and even pies rounding out the action that’s happening onstage. This buffet of food-focused shows makes sure that by curtain call, your belly is as nourished as your mind.
Seattle, through July 1
Café Nordo takes a spin on the Spaghetti Western in its latest Culinarium show, which is served with a four-course meal from chef Erin Brindley. While you enjoy the slow burn of watching a Clint Eastwood-esque stranger arrive in a town that’s fed up with restrictive landowners, you can also dig into sunflower seed risotto, oxtail chili, spaghetti and meatballs “salad,” hickory-smoked Purcell Mountain Farms popcorn, and rhubarb pandowdy with smoked salt chantilly cream. This 21-and-up-only show also offers three beverage flights for purchase, including two for wine and one based around smoky cocktails.
“Overheard at Joe’s”
New York City, through July 24
Pull up a stool, order a pint, and chow down on the famous burger at McHale’s Bar (yes, the real one in Midtown) while actors improvise and musicians play in this interactive experience. Every night is a new show, as the bartender guides six actors hidden within the audience for the ultimate people-watching play.
“Tommy Gun’s Garage”
Chicago’s longest-running interactive dinner show transports audiences back to the Roaring ’20s, when gangsters and flappers ran the town. The musical comedy review draws on the era’s biggest hits from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and more, all played live by the Sinfully Orchestra. A three-course meal is included with your ticket, with entrée options such as The Kingpin (a 12 oz. prime rib) and Don’t Call Me Chicken (with your choice of marsala or lemon-herb sauce) served alongside for-purchase cocktails like the Bloody Valentine and Clara Bow’s Cosmo. Use that liquid courage if you’re pulled up on stage, but also be ready to hide the hooch from the cops if there’s a surprise raid.
“The Dinner Detective”
New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia; open-ended
Look around: Your fellow diners are suspects in this modern-set murder mystery show, which has grown to become the largest in America. Plainclothes patrons are planted in the audience, adding dimension to a whodunnit that plays out in real time during a four-course meal. Watch as the costumed detectives uncover clues and interrogate audience members — who may or may not be part of the show — but if you can guess the killer first, you’ll walk away with a prize package.
“The Imbible: Day Drinking”
New York City, open-ended
New Yorkers take their brunch seriously, so of course there is an entire show devoted to the history of the meal and its iconic cocktails. This is the latest in a musical comedy series about cocktails and spirits, and follows four friends who are trying to carve out time in their over-scheduled lives to nosh and gossip on the weekend. Pro tip: Arrive 30 minutes early to get started on the first of your included three craft cocktails (one includes a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar).
“Opera Brunch at Onegin”
New York City, open-ended
Baritone David Serero hosts this Sunday staple, which pairs a three-course meal with a show that stars international soloists from the Metropolitan Opera and major European opera houses. The Greenwich Village restaurant is decorated in grand Russian style to reflect the setting of Alexander Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin, both the eatery’s namesake and the basis for Tchaikovsky’s popular opera.
Chicago and New York City, open-ended
In Japanese, “batsu” means “punishment,” so expect to see the contestants from Face Off Unlimited do everything they can to avoid the electric shocks, paintballs, giant egg-smashing chicken, and other jaw-dropping penalties as they compete in this game show-esque improv experience. The Chicago version is in the legendary Kamehachi sushi bar in Old Town, while the NYC show can be found in an underground lounge theatre in Little Tokyo. Everyone can knock back sushi and sake, but only the bravest sign up to participate in the show for a chance to win free drinks and prizes.
New York City, open-ended
Thanks to professional baker and Waitress pie consultant Stacy Donnelly, the lobby of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre continually smells like sugar, butter, and flour. It’d be cruel to tell the story of Jenna, a small-town pie expert who dreams of leaving her loveless marriage, without also serving a slice of the good stuff, so audience members can dig into mini pies of their own, served in Mason jars and bearing some of the show’s signature flavors.
New York City, October 6
The one-day food experience that feels more like a music festival took Los Angeles by storm in the spring and is now coming to Forest Hills Stadium in the fall. Restaurants are the headliners here, often serving food you won’t find anywhere else. There are also live music performances throughout the day and panels from thought leaders and industry pioneers. Stay tuned for tickets!