If you’re heading to the Sunderland Empire, here’s some of the best-placed restaurants 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 its own on-site pizza bistro, Pizza al Teatro, which is ideal for pre-theatre dining. Open ahead of performances, it offers a range of sourdough pizzas. You can book ahead on the Empire website with a £15 deposit per person (redeemable against the cost of your meal)
2. Engine Room, 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. It's open seven days a week from lunchtime for classic pub grub.
3. 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.
4. Wild Fire, Hanover Place, Deptford
The hugely-popular Wild Fire pizza has a new home in Deptford, just a short walk from the Empire. It's open Wednesdays to Sundays. Book ahead at www.wild-fire.restaurant