Best Dinner Theater In Tampa Bay

October 13, 2014 8:00 AM

What we now know as dinner theater can be traced back to the Middle Ages when Madrigal Theater was popular. Guests would enjoy a lavish meal in one room and then migrate to another room to watch a staged play. In the United States, dinner theaters reached their peak of popularity in the 1970s and seemed to start dying out in the mid-1980s. However, there are three dinner theaters in Tampa Bay that still continue to attract both tourists and local residents with fine food and great talent. Whether you enjoy Broadway shows or a thrilling murder mystery, you can expect an exciting night out. Read on to learn about the dinner theaters in the Tampa Bay area and what they have to offer.
Show Palace Dinner Theater
16128 U.S. Highway 19
Hudson, FL 34667
(727) 863-7949

Lovers of Broadway musicals will feel right at home at the Show Palace. Your evening will start with a hot buffet that includes choices of salad fixings, meats, vegetable sides and desserts, as well as soft drinks, coffee and tea. The wait staff is friendly and attentive and maintains a high standard of excellent service. The shows vary season by season, but past shows include timeless classics like “Kiss Me Kate,” “A Christmas Carol,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The King and I.” Tickets can be purchased for individual shows or can be purchased for the season with your choice of any three or any four shows. It’s a perfect date night or family night out.

Early Bird Dinner Theatre
13355 49th St. N.
Clearwater, FL 33762
(727) 446-5898

If spoken plays are more your speed, then the Early Bird Dinner Theater is the place for you. First of all, this place doesn’t cut corners when it comes to a quality meal. The buffet-style dinner constitutes a salad bar, selection of entrees and sides and a dessert bar. The salad bar includes not only typical veggie choices, but also choices like carrot salad, pasta salad and potato salad. Entree and side choices include Virginia ham, roast beef, salmon almondine, wild rice and seasonal vegetables. Dessert comes with coffee or tea. Past plays include “Boeing Boeing,” “Over the River and Through the Woods,” “Funny Money” and “Death by Chocolate.” Before deciding if this is a date night or family night, check the Early Bird’s website for a synopsis of the current show to decide if it’s appropriate for your children.

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The Detective Dinner Theater
Marriott St. Petersburg/Clearwater
12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
(727) 742-7457

Everyone loves a good murder mystery, and the Detective Dinner Theater will keep you on the edge of your seat all evening. You will start with a meal prepared by the Marriott’s chef. The menu is constantly changing, but you can expect a mixed greens salad, either a meat or vegetarian entree and a pastry dessert. Coffee, tea and water are included in the price of the meal, but soft drinks or alcoholic beverages must be ordered from the Marriott’s bar. Then, you will be part of an interactive experience in which you will use play-money to help the detective uncover clues and solve the crime. Play-money can be used to bribe the actors into answering your questions or giving you more clues. Prizes are given out to anyone who correctly solves the crime. You’re in for a night of both delicious food and delicious fun.

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Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at