It's a tradition dating back to the 1930s, and for many moviegoers, it still eclipses the modern multiplex experience. But it's also threatened by extinction. With only an estimated 357 drive-ins still functioning throughout the US, Saco is one of the last places where an audience of automobiles can bask in movie magic under the twinkling starlight. With speakers propped by the car windows and affordable concessions at hand, viewers laugh, cry, and cheer at double features of first-run films while knowing exactly who's kicking the seat behind them. Those who want to keep this American tradition going can donate to Project Drive-In, which aids outdoor theaters as they strive to make the pricey conversions to digital projection.
When new owners Brian and Sue took over Tailgate Bar and Grill recently, they completely revamped the eatery, building a new stage for live entertainment and overhauling the menu. But since they knew a good thing when they saw it, the duo decided to keep the same friendly staff. These servers shuttle platters of crowd-pleasing American food from the kitchen, including slow-cooked barbecue ribs with cornbread and fish and chips made with flaky pieces of haddock. Plenty of beer and liquor keep guests hydrated as bands and DJs take the stage on select nights to play rock, blues, and country tunes.
Open until 1 a.m., Sneaky Pete Billiards riles up the spirit of friendly competition with a variety of different games, including video games, darts, foosball, and billiards atop eight tables. Tournaments are posted on their Facebook page, and leagues take place three nights a week. Patrons of all ages can fuel the competition by diving into hearty dishes such as chili mac or shepherd's pie—a homemade heap of savory ground beef and fresh mashed potatoes that leaves bellies more full than a drill sergeant's swear jar. Guests can also stroll up to the full-service bar and imbibe a selection of 36 bottled beers or variety of cocktails.
Film buffs across six states stare wide-eyed at large cinema screens, losing themselves in first-run Hollywood movies and the smell of fresh, buttery kernels within Your Neighborhood Theatre's 17 locations. Though all theaters prioritize comfortable seating, old-fashioned friendly service, and high-stakes preshow trivia slideshows, each location encompasses its own distinct charm, be it through arthouse décor, 3-D screens, or Rhode Island's vintage 1950's drive-in setting.
As a child, Jason Litalien watched Cheers with his dad; even then, he knew that in the future he wanted to open a neighborhood sports bar inspired by the hit television show's signature watering hole. Duty came first, though; Jason enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for 13 years, keeping his dream alive all the while. Three years ago, he returned from service and opened The Frosty Pint, a friendly pub decorated with Boston sports memorabilia, including a neon Celtics sign and framed Red Sox and Tom Brady jerseys. Cooks curate a menu of American favorites such as chicken wings drenched in teriyaki or thai honey sauce, jalapeño poppers, and deep-fried baseballs. Bartenders, meanwhile, fill glasses with 20 types of draft beer, pour a handful of wines, and mix spirits into cocktails. The Frosty Pint also has an outdoor seating area with umbrellas to protect them from the elements.
Some meat-centric restaurants may try to evoke an old-time Western ranch, but chef Harding Lee Smith dubs The Grill Room & Bar an “urban steakhouse.” Although the open, high-ceilinged dining room exudes plenty of rustic charm, Smith is most inspired by his restaurant's own bustling neighborhood and the local farms beyond it. Starring in a cast of fresh, locally grown produce are grass-fed, all-natural meats from New Gloucester's Pineland Farms. These meats—think spice-rubbed skirt steaks, butterflied pork chops, and organic Cornish game hen—are seared on the open kitchen’s wood-fired grill and then plated with modern flourishes such as truffled mash and grilled onion jam. Seafood dishes benefit equally from the wood grills, while a wood pizza oven creates crackly, chewy pies such as a duck and brie pizza with shaved apples and balsamic syrup.
Wines range through France, Italy, and New Zealand, and bartenders kick out cocktails such as hot buttered rum and the Creole Bull, a Twenty-2 vodka concoction with peppers and smoked peppercorns. Desserts tend toward the rich and creamy, with house-made bean crème brulee and New York–style cheesecakes whose flavors vary with the seasons and the Statue of Liberty's moods.