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“Great Food-and-Movie Option”

Northern Lights Theater Pub
Ranked #58 of 532 Restaurants in Salem
Cuisines: American, Bar, Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar Scene, Child-friendly, Cheap Eats
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Wheelchair Accessible
Salem, Oregon
Level Contributor
56 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Great Food-and-Movie Option”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 February 2013

There are two places I know of in Salem where it's possible to watch a movie and have dinner at the same time. Even though this is the "second-run" theater, and even though it's older and smaller, my family agrees that this is the better of the two options.

We came to Northern Lights for a Saturday matinee of a kids/family movie. There were several other people there, but we moved through the line very quickly. We bought our tickets at the box office just inside the door. Then we ordered the food we wanted at the concession stand. They offered the standard popcorn and candy, but we were there for lunch. We placed our order with a server who was nice but more efficient than friendly (no complaints from me there--that's just the way she did her work). What I liked most about that process was the menu. They had a large menu on the wall behind the concession counter, a poster-sized menu on a stand near the end of the queuing area, and several folded paper menus. Three different ways to figure out what we wanted made it much easier to decide before getting to the front of the line.

Inside the theater, we quickly found some suitable seats. In front of each row of seats are some tables that are just the right height but just a little too far away from the seats to reach without leaning forward. Still, we had plenty of room, and the chairs were comfortable. The theater itself (and the whole building, really) was obviously not new. It was well used and a little worn in some places. The staff obviously does clean up after each show (and probably at the end of each day) but that the business is busy enough that they don't have time to give the place a thorough scrubbing. It was undoubtedly clean and sanitary--just not spotlessly shiny. Bonus points: I didn't encounter sticky floors or popcorn debris.

Our food arrived about fifteen minutes into the show (including just two previews). We barely noticed the server come and go. I had a wrap that was quite tasty, if a little messy. My three-year-old son had mini hot dogs and apple slices, and he finished all but a quarter of one hot dog and a bit of apple, so I know he liked it. My wife had a tasty panini with some slightly bland pasta salad. I suppose my only complaint would be that we would have had to leave the theater if we wanted more food or drinks, but we were too engrossed in the movie to do that anyway.

I couldn't determine whether (or when) they had closed-captioned showings, which we would have liked, but I did notice that they offer something called a Sensory Sensitive Showing. (I hope I got the term right.) It looked like a special option for patrons with special needs. It sounded to me like they showed the movie at a lower volume and perhaps with some lights left on. Parents traveling with children who have autism, epilepsy, or other sensory-related problems might want to call and ask for details about these showings.

Was this an amazing experience that I think everyone should go out of his or her way to try? No. Was it a good family outing that we'd be willing to repeat? Definitely yes. I spent $31 for three people to enjoy lunch and a movie in a family-friendly environment. Yeah, we'll be back. The showtimes are limited and don't always fit well with my personal schedule, but with only three screens, I understand.

(Northern Lights also offers alcoholic beverages for adults and restricts some theaters to adults-only at certain times of the day. They also have special events such as live comedy, plays, sporting events, and so on. We did not try these options, so I can't provide an opinion about them, but I know that they are available.)

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank HawaiianShirts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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47 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    24
    16
    3
    4
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Laguna Niguel, California
2 reviews
“Where else can you watch a movie for 3 bucks??”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 February 2013

Fun place to go with the family. Movies are $3!!! They serve food to your table while you watch your favorite flick. Doesn't get better than that!!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank Christina277
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
salem
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great pricing, poor timing.”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2013

People always rave about northern lights, always saying that its a cheap way to take the family out for movies. but its not so true. you cannot take the family out for movie "Night" if you have kids. cause for some reason they decided to make it 21+ after only 8pm. not sure about other parents, but for me that is poor time to start 21 and over. 9pm or 10pm is more like it. there has been a few times that my plans for movie night have been foiled due to this 21+ setup. it would not be so bad if maybe they had the showings for movies 3 times during the day/night. but your choice is early in the day, or late at night. early in the day usually does not work for me, and with the 21+ its worthless to try. so if you have kids, be prepared to disappoint them "I'm sorry, they do not seem to like kids. But mommy, and daddy can go watch a movie.... "
sorry to make such a poor review, but with times what they are, i think we need more family friendly places, and less bars.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Larry D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Monmouth, Oregon
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Still around”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 November 2012

They do have $3 movies. Show times don't run well my schedule. Now that cinebarre is town, I would rather wait for a Tuesday for $5 all day where they come take my order and the food is better.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
Thank Savannah B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ensenada, Mexico
Level Contributor
27 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Great value! Old but still fun!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 November 2012

$3 movie! Worth it. Kids love it! Older and needs to be updated. But when a family of 4 can do movie and popcorn for under $20 I am game!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank momsigns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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