Movie Classics and Fine Dining in The Mission at Foreign Cinema

By Antonio Barrios of The St. Regis San Francisco
Movie Classics and Fine Dining in The Mission at Foreign Cinema

Tell me: Is there a better way to spend an evening than kicking back and watching one of your favorite classic movies while tucking into a smoky masala pork chop?

Except that this is not a Netflix night in, my friends, but a big-screen experience. And you're eating some of the finest food in San Francisco. Oh, and enjoying it all, while sitting al fresco.

That's what you can expect when you dine at Foreign Cinema, one of the city's all-time quintessential San Francisco restaurants. Night after night (it's only open for dinner, and for brunch on weekends) since 1999, it's been a destination for both great movies and great food — and, despite the gimmicky sound of it all, it's anything but. In fact, you could say it's recreating a local tradition, as it's just a couple of doors down from the old (and now abandoned Art Deco jewel) Mission Theater.

Foreign Cinema is beautifully designed: you enter a long, dark hallway entrance lit with votive candles, and can then choose between the inside dining room with its toasty fireplace, or the heated courtyard patio.

There, on the outside wall, is where they screen old favorites like Casablanca, Papillon and Breakfast at Tiffany's. And talk about a bespoke experience: all the films are screened silently, except that you're given a little set of speakers if you want to listen to the soundtrack — so you can adjust the volume as you please.

The food is top-notch seasonal Californian, and there's always a cool, eclectic mix of people, with plenty of couples (it's one heck of a date spot). Just be sure to book at least a week in advance.