Regulars at Central Cinema are getting used to seeing a waiter in the theater. Hold the Raisinets―opt for something along the lines of a glass of French red and a stone oven-crisped pizza topped with spicy Italian sausage and organic mustard greens. The Central screens indie flicks and sometimes old favorites, and its $6 tickets leave plenty of cash in hand for your dinner order. $; 1411 21st Ave.; central-cinema.com or 206/686-6684.
Best all-ages variety show
Pick up a wood-fired pizza from Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria next door before nabbing a cocktail-service table with a good view for Big Night Out. What’s a big night out? Might be airborne feats of derring-do, improv, gravity-defying juggling―it’s hard to say. The fast-paced monthly show airs on the Seattle Channel (cable 21), but it’s much more fun to watch in the grandeur of the historic Columbia City Theater. 4916 Rainier Ave. S.; 206/723-0088. Tutta Bella: $; 4918 Rainier Ave. S.; 206/721-3501 for orders to go.
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Best cheap arty evening
With free admission and $1 glasses of wine, Cheap Wine and Poetry has to be the city’s best bargain night out. Local writers read essays, short stories, comedy, memoirs, and, yes, poetry while the audience packs the small cafe and snacks on cheese and crackers or hummus and veggies. "We like exposing people to literature without being overly pretentious," says organizer Brian McGuigan. "You’re not going to experience any kind of rigor mortis while you’re sitting there." $; Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave.; cheap wineandpoetry.com or 206/322-7030. Performances happen every other month.
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Best throwback concert venue
At the Triple Door, you might hear Robert Cray while munching on salt-and-pepper squid one night and then discover a folk singer-songwriter along with Malaysian otak-otak (banana leaf-wrapped fish in red curry) the next. As long as your evening’s a surprise, owners Rick and Ann Yoder are happy. They saved the 1926 theater from boarded-up neglect to turn it into an intimate place to hear musicians who are, as Rick puts it, "not just run-of-the-mill mainstream." $$$; 216 Union St.; thetripledoor.net or 206/838-4333.
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