There’s a host of top shows heading to Sunderland Empire this year, with huge blockbuster Disney’s The Lion King currently enjoying a seven-week run.
If you’re heading to the Sunderland Empire, here’s some of the best places in the city for pre-theatre dining that are all a stone’s throw away from the venue, or a couple of minutes walk. Places fill up fast, however, so it’s best to book ahead where possible.
1. Pizza al Teatro, Sunderland Empire
Sunderland Empire has recently launched its on-site pizza bistro, Pizza al Teatro which is ideal for pre-theatre dining. There's six main sourdough base pizzas from which to choose and you can also add your own toppings. It's open from 5.30pm until curtain up for all of the evening shows at the Empire. It also opens from 12.30pm for matinees.
You can pre-book tables on the Empire website, but it’s also open for walk ins. Photo: National World
2. The Engine Room bistro at The Fire Station
Just next door to the Empire, the Engine Room Bistro is one of the largest places to grab a bite to eat before a theatre show - as well as for shows at its on-site auditorium. Housed in the 1908 former central fire station, it's full of Edwardian character. Since it reopened post-pandemic, the menu has been improved and there's some real classics on there. There's also a great range of local ales, such as Maxim and Vaux. It's open seven days a week for lunches and dinners. Make sure to check out its new beer garden too, which is an ideal spot for people watching. Pre book at pubculture.com Photo: JPI Media
3. Mexico 70, High Street West
For tacos and tequila, you can't get much better than at Mexico 70. Tuck into a range of fusion tacos, loaded fries and sides, with plenty of vegan options too. Make sure to order the gloriously-chunky guacamole! It's open from 5pm during the week and from 1pm at weekends. Perfect for casual dining with an excellent play list to boot. This is one of the city's most-popular restaurant so it's best to book ahead on the online booking system on its social media channels. Reservations are available 30 days in advance for up to six people. Photo: JPI media
4. Aperitif, High Street West
Situated next door to the box office, you can't get closer to the Empire than Aperitif, which is a firm favourite with Empire audiences, as well as cast and crew who can often be seen partying there after shows. The menu is vast with a broad range of Italian classics on offer at really fair prices. The cocktails are a must too, and they're much cheaper than the Empire bar. It gets very busy before curtain up, so make sure to book ahead. Photo: Frank Reid