Surviving the month of August in Fort Worth requires a few things: nerves of steel; air-conditioning that’s even tougher; and – perhaps most importantly – the right dinner plans. With the temperature, on some evenings, still in the triple digits after 7 p.m., the last thing you want to do is fire up the backyard grill.

By a similar measure, it’s also hard to rally to plan an elaborate night out or even sustain two hours of dinner conversation with friends. Some days are so long and hot you are too tired to even speak. Fortunately, Fort Worth has what I’ve long considered the perfect solution to this conundrum: A handful of movie theaters that allow you to sit in air-conditioned comfort, enjoying the latest Hollywood blockbuster and  dinner and drinks at the same time.

The “dine-in” movie trend has been growing in Fort Worth in recent years, though it reached critical mass in 2009, with the opening of the West 7th Movie Tavern, in the West 7th district. There are seven auditoriums, each with comfortable leather seats and pull-out trays, and a magical button that you can push so that a server suddenly appears before you. The expansive food menu goes far beyond the usual popcorn-nachos fare you’d usually find at a movie theater, and includes such surprisingly sophisticated offerings as a spicy po boy sandwich, cranberry pecan chicken salad, and even red velvet cake for dessert.

Movie Tavern Fort Worth West 7th

Photo: West 7th Fort Worth - Jennifer McNeil Baker 

And as someone who thinks every movie goes down a little easier with a cocktail, I’m especially fond of the drinks menu, which offers such cinematically-inspired libations as “Titanic Tea” and “Vampire’s Kiss Martini.” The only drawback is that the West 7th Movie Tavern can get crowded, especially on weekend evenings, as we found out a few weeks back when we got sold out of World War Z. Luckily there are two other Movie Taverns in Fort Worth, the Rigdmar Movie Tavern and the Hulen Movie Tavern, that offer very similar menus.

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling a little braver in the face of the heat, you’d be wise to check out the Coyote Drive-In, an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater with some terrific modern touches, that opened this past spring. Three theaters are located on the grounds, located near LaGrave Field, just north of downtown Fort Worth. The double-feature presentation begins at sunset, presently around 9 p.m. The drive-in also features the “Coyote Canteen” – a counter-service restaurant that offers pizza, burgers, and the like. (We suggest getting your burger "coyote-style," topped with a blend of hatch chilis and roasted red peppers.)

The Coyote Canteen Pavillion

Photo: Coyote Drive-In Gallery 

Most of the seating is outdoors, which – even with misters – can be a tough sit in the heat of August. So why not order your food and a few beers (Fort Worth’s own Rahr and Martin House are available on draft) of beer, and take it back to your car? Turn off the engine and the lights, but leave on the air-conditioning and the radio – and as the sun sets and the movie flickers to life on the screen, you’ll feel launched back in time to a calmer, quieter era, when the drive-in was the place to be on Friday nights.

Trust me, even if you’re stuck watching The Smurfs 2, you’ll feel, at least for a few hours out of the sweltering heat, a sense of pure bliss.