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Miami has a bunch of new luxury movie theaters now. We tried them so you know where to go.

Usually, when we go to the movies, we go to the nearest theater, wherever we can drive without having a road rage meltdown. Now, with several luxury theaters around the county, we wonder: Is going to the movies ever worth a drive out of your neighborhood?


Here are a few of the things we learned by visiting four of Miami-Dade’s swankiest theaters: Choosing where you sit before you go is a big perk, but if you choose seats in the handicapped row there will inevitably be a stroller with a baby in it next to you. Sometimes paying a higher ticket price to avoid small children or get some separation from fellow moviegoers is worthwhile. And if you can eat a gourmet meal while you’re watching it, sitting through “Baywatch” is bearable.

Here are our in-depth reviews of four of Miami-Dade’s V.I.P. theaters.

1. CMX: The VIP Cinema Experience, Brickell City Centre

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Ambience: CMX features two attractive lounge areas with giant TV screens showing sporting events (perfect for football season and the next World Cup). You don’t need to buy a movie ticket to get a drink and watch the Dolphins. Inside, the theaters have an industrial feel, with seats set far enough apart that your neighbors  have to work really hard to bug you.

Seats: Oversized, cushy, comfortable. They recline so far you’d better hope the movie’s not boring or you may doze off. The theaters are designed so that they’re steep and quiet – you don’t hear people walking up and down, and in-theater service is a lot less intrusive than you’d expect. Seats are well spaced – you can’t even see a cell phone light in the row in front of you, and you’d have to be taller than Hassan Whiteside to block someone’s view.

Food:  Mostly of the handheld variety (pizza, burgers, etc.), but it is high-end, and it is good. Everything we tried gets high marks: the tuna crudo appetizer ($13); the crispy chicken sandwich with coleslaw and fries ($13) and the King Crab roll with a side of lobster bisque for dipping ($18). Frankly, I wanted to throw that bisque back like it was a shot of vodka. We hear the Cuban egg rolls ($10) are amazing and were tempted to get all high and mighty and healthy with a kale Caesar salad ($10), but one can only eat so much.

Drinks: Full bar with good wine choices (like the Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay, $15 a glass or Etude Pinot Noir, $12 a glass ) and specialty drinks (we loved the Little Havana, $12, a mojito flavored with ginger).

There's a bar upstairs and a bar downstairs. Take your pick.

How to order: Download the CMX app on your phone or press a button by your seat. There is in-theater service throughout the film, though most people tend to order before the movie starts and most food is delivered during the previews.

Customer service: Excellent. The bartender, waiters and ushers are helpful and friendly, and when there was a sound problem in one of the theaters, management acted swiftly, comping all the food and drink that had been purchased, finding tickets for alternate showings and handing out free passes. That, my friends, is how you earn a good reputation.

How to buy tickets:  Via the CMS app or at the theater.

Can you choose your seats ahead of time?: Yes

Price: $21-$25; tickets include popcorn. Waiters also serve water during the previews.

Parking: First two hours free at Brickell City Center, then parking is $3 an hour with a 50 percent discount if you validate your ticket at the theater.

Nice touch: A blanket is left on your seat in case you get cold, and there’s a little shelf under the armrest where you can stash your purse without putting it on the floor.

Well, this could be better: We had to trudge down several flights of stairs to our car because the escalators weren’t working and neither was the elevator. Brickell City Centre reports the problem has been fixed and that the escalators will run after shopping hours.

CMX: The V.I.P. Cinema Experience, Brickell City Centre, 701. S. Miami Ave., downtown Miami

2. CineBistro, CityPlace Doral

Sturdy trays mean you can eat fancy food while you watch something better than "Baywatch."

Ambience: Bright modern lobby and bar area. There’s also a private dining room available for rental.

Seats: Your bed isn’t as comfortable as these reclining seats. Tray tables are sturdy, which means you can order something more ambitious than a sandwich because using a knife won’t be a problem, and there’s enough space so that your neighbors’ dirty dishes aren’t distracting.

Food: The menu, curated by executive chef Justin Sherrer of Doce Provisions in Little Havana, is the most ambitious of any luxury theater in Miami. We tried the Roasted Snapper “Mojito” with rum buerre blanc, roasted bananas and coconut jasmine rice ($22.50) and sriracha-infused crab fried rice with kimchee, shiitake mushrooms, yum yum sauce and a fried egg ($21), with a side of crispy Brussels sprouts with cauliflower, carmelized onion, Ras el Hanout and feta ($6/$9). We were in love with everything. There are also salads, steaks, sliders, shrimp mac and cheese, chicken and waffles and more.

crabfried rice
The crab fried rice is so delicious we're thinking of coming here on our lunch hour just to get it again.

Drinks: Full bar with wine, beer and specialty drinks including watermelon mojitos (($12) and the Pink Flower martini ($11.50) with Ciroc Peach, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, lime and cranberry juice.

How to order:  A waiter takes your order once you’re seated; food is delivered up until the feature begins (you must arrive half an hour before showtime for in-theater service). If you want something once the movie starts you have to order it at a kiosk outside the theater.

Customer service: Friendly, attentive bartenders and servers.

How to buy tickets:  Via Fandango or at the theater.

Can you choose your seats?: Yes

Price: $ 18 for shows 4 p.m. and later, $15 for matinees (3D movies cost $4 extra).

Parking:  Three hours free in garage with ticket purchase and validation.

Nice touch:  No one under 21 is admitted to CineBistro Doral except during special Family Series films. So there are no little kids running around and yapping during your R-rated movie. No teenagers, either. Not all parents will like this, but plenty will, because it makes date night a lot more pleasant if you can avoid other people’s poorly behaved kids.

Well, this could be better: If you don’t live nearby you will undoubtedly face some traffic getting there. This is Doral, after all. But the overall experience at CineBistro is so pleasant we even had a good time sitting through “Baywatch.” Really.

Don't want to eat with the riff raff? Rent the private room at CineBistro (and invite us).

CineBistro, 3450 NW 83rd Ave., #212, Doral

3. The Landmark at Merrick Park

We like the seats at The Landmark, but you might end up in front of annoying people, so you may as well order a drink before you go in.

Ambience: A cut above a typical theater, with an attractive bar at the entrance.

Seats: Definitely nicer than the usual movie theater seat, but they don’t all recline (some do, in certain theaters and rows, but not all).

Food: The menu is extremely basic  – you don’t come here to eat, you come to see the movie. You can get a burger or veggie burger ($14), but I’d stick with the waffle fries ($6.25) because who doesn’t love waffle fries, plus they are way sexier than popcorn. There are flatbread pizzas ($12) and a  hummus plate (12), but honestly, who wants to eat hummus when you’re watching “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”? That’s a total waffle fries movie.

One Coppola Chardonnay and one Landmark for us, bartender!

Drinks: Full bar with specialty cocktails like The Landmark (Tito’s, St. Germaine, Champagne, Cranberry Juice, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup). Trust us – it’s good. The wines-by-the-glass and beer lists are solid, with wine ranging $12-$15 and beers $6-$8 for the smallest size.

How to order: At the bar or counter before you go in; no in-theater service.

Customer service: Well, the nice guy who took our tickets let someone sneak in with a Starbucks drink, so we’re giving him a thumbs-up.

How to buy tickets: Online or at theater kiosks.

Can you choose your seats?: Yes

Price: $12.50 adults, $9 children, $10 senior discount, plus a $1-per-ticket charge for ordering online, which seems extremely dubious to me.

Parking: $3 for up to two hours; each additional hour is $1.

Nice touch: The price is affordable so you can afford to bring your family.

Well, this could be better: The price is affordable so you can afford to bring your family. And then we’ll have to deal with them.

The Landmark, Shops at Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., #3005, Coral Gables

4. Cinepolis Coconut Grove

You remember Cocowalk, right? That's where Cinepolis lives.

Ambience: This is the closest you’ll get to a regular movie theater. In fact, only a few of the theaters here offer the V.I.P. treatment.

Seats: The V.I.P. theaters come with oversized seats and swivel trays that aren’t particularly sturdy. Also you’re a bit close to your neighbor, so if he leaves a pile of debris on his tray, it’s going to hover there on the edge of your consciousness for the duration of the movie.

Food: Nothing fancy here. You got your tacos, you got wraps, pizzas and paninis. There are mini corn dogs on the menu, but the less said about corn dogs, the better. The truffle fries were a little soggy, but they are truffle fries and thus were delicious. A chicken Waldorf wrap special was tasty, and the chicken tacos ($12.50) were good, if a little messy.

Drinks: Beer and wine only. A Blue Moon draft will set you back $7.50, a Lagunitas IPA $8.

cinepolis grove
You can stop by the bar for a drink before the movie even if you bought the cheap seats at Cinepolis.

How to order: On weekends, there is in-theater service before the movie starts. During the week, you order at the bar, and a staff member will bring your food to you.

Customer service: Good. On a busy Sunday afternoon, a patient manager ably and kindly coped with a patron who stupidly purchased tickets for the wrong day (me), offering to set us up in a later movie, another movie or a showing on another day.

How to buy tickets: Online or at theater kiosks.

Can you choose your seats?: Yes

Price: $14.50 for adults (regular non-premium seats are $12.50); $13.50 for kids and seniors.

Parking: $2 for four hours with validated ticket.

Nice touch: Apparently you can bring your dog: We enjoyed “Wonder Woman” with an extremely well-behaved German shepherd. He did not wear a service dog vest, so maybe he’s just a DC Comics fan. He was also far better behaved than the small child who sat behind us and walked around and talked throughout the movie.

Well, this could be better: Cinepolis is the busiest of all the theaters we went to so it can be a bit chaotic. It was the only place we encountered a stroller and a baby destined to wail at crucial moments during the film.

Cinepolis Coconut Grove, 3015 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove