Unlike the traditional night out, dinner shows provide more than standard entertainment options. They represent smart and cost-effective ways to celebrate a special event, impress a client or indulge a loved one. In metro Los Angeles, locals and tourists alike crowd into quality venues that offer a combination of fine dining and live productions. If you’re looking for a unique dining experience spiced with comedy, musical or murder-mystery theater, L.A.’s selections are thrillingly abundant. Here are some of the region’s more outstanding dinner theaters well worth visiting.
Matteo’s Italian Restaurant
2321 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Ever since its drum-rolling start in 1963, Matteo’s has reigned as L.A.’s preeminent crowned jewel of social excellence. It’s the place where the late Frank Sinatra and his famous ‘rat pack’ frequented. Today, the nostalgic venue ranks supreme in a world of creativity, where exquisite dining meets first-rate comedy performance. On select weekends, Matteo’s accommodates Keith & Margo’s Mystery Events, the region’s leading producers of crafty murder-mystery theater. For nearly four hours, zealous guests are entertained meticulously by a cast of melodramatic thespians in an intriguing cat-and-mouse game of skullduggery. The non-stop action is led by a polished comedic actor, whose observational talent exceeds the level of plaudit-worthy. Guests are beguiled from the moment they sip their first heavy-handed cocktail to the last scrumptious bite of a chef-prepared entrée that includes tender steak, chicken, salmon or vegetarian. This well-executed 7 p.m. show is one that exemplifies the true meaning of cool.
3663 Main St.
Riverside, CA 92501
From the moment diners set foot inside Avila Terrace on Friday and Saturday nights, they have already been cast in an interactive murder-mystery production, courtesy of The Gourmet Detective. This award-winning company of zany actors has been engaged in dinner theater since 1990, dishing guests with era-guided performances that are provocative and deliciously inventive. While guests are relishing such delectable dishes as pan-seared chicken breast, grilled salmon and beef tri-tip, they are whisked far away from the 1,820-square-foot venue in downtown Riverside to an imaginary exotic locale to help solve a fanciful crime. Filled to the rim with realistic costuming, on-point characterizations and lofty drama, The Gourmet Detective guarantees an unforgettable dining experience. Reservations for the 8 p.m. shows are a must.
Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre
455 W. Foothill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
Following an hour of opulent dining within a 299-seat ballroom-styled theater, guests are treated to a spirited musical revue that rivals big-ticket productions. Now in its 29th season, Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre has grown to become an impressionable hot spot for those seeking year-round, chef-prepared meals alongside prize-worthy stage performances. Beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian entrées are served graciously by a tuxedoed waiting staff. This is an elegant venue in the quaint college town of Claremont that pays tribute to such stylized musical classics as “Cats,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The King and I” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” Formal seating options range from the main floor to a secluded balcony area, all with unobstructed views of the vibrant stage. Reservations for the Thursday to Sunday shows are encouraged.
Murder Mystery Cruise
Grand Romance Riverboat
200 Aquarium Way, Dock #4
Long Beach, CA 90803
On Friday and Saturday nights, amateur sleuths climb aboard California’s only authentic sternwheel riverboat for an hours-long cruise of the visually charming Long Beach harbor. While also taking pleasure in an elaborate four-course meal, each guest becomes a potential suspect in a staged murder-mystery plot orchestrated by The Dinner Detective. The award-winning dinner show is comprised of improvisational actors that remain in top character throughout a rollicking, unscripted theater performance. Since 2004, this professional troupe has put on thousands of on-demand shows, making huge waves in and around Los Angeles. Adorned with historic relics of the Old South, the vessel is a captivating setting for an evening filled with riddles, secrecy and mystification. To secure a spot in the 100-seat showroom, reservations are recommended.
Rockwell Table & Stage
1714 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Located within the entertainment pulse of Los Feliz Village, Rockwell Table & Stage provides diners with a potpourri of crowd-pleasing options. Amid a welcoming display of Baroque chandeliers and homespun appeal, guests are pampered with such tall-hat dishes as Moroccan spring lamb chops within a cabaret-styled setting. The 150-seat venue tips its fedora to a continual parade of musical theater acts, and such notable performing artists as Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. On occasion, it offers a 360-degree live theatrical concert that pays homage to modern-day major motion pictures. Prior to a scheduled performance, visitors are able to sample a multitude of chef-prepared food items on the site’s multi-level patio that is embraced by an alluring and photo-ready California Coral tree. Most headlining events start at 8 p.m., with reservations suggested.