Before- or after-movie meals worthy of a vote

The Lot restaurant on Maybank Highway on James Island.

If you are like most people, you will not have seen all the movies that receive awards at this weekend’s Oscars. After you have watched the red carpet chats, the weepy acceptance speeches, and the tribute to all those who have died, you might be inspired to remedy that oversight and see a movie or two.

That is always a good excuse to have a meal before or after, so here are the most convenient places to area movie theaters that are worth your vote, academy member or not.

There is just something about pizza and a movie, and Crust’s offerings live up to the pairing. The wood-paneled interior is warm and cozy with an open pizza oven clearly visible, salads are fresh and come in two convenient sizes, and the pizzas are indeed very good, with nicely textured crusts and lots of enticing toppings combos. The most solid of the ’za offerings are the multiple meat-free options.

This is probably better for an after-movie meal because ticket times can take a while for the kitchen, but you won’t want to rush anyway. This popular James Island spot has enjoyed renewed enthusiasm among diners since chef R.J. Dye took the helm. Although the menu changes daily, if it looks like an unusual combination of flavors (say, for instance, the Porridge Bread), it’s usually worth a try. On the other end of the spectrum, burger lovers always have a solid choice as well.

Speaking of burgers, Sesame has some of the best in town, and that goes for meat-free diners too. Each burger has multiple patty options (including a vegan black bean patty) and the meat options are vegetarian-fed and hormone free, so nothing gets in the way of good taste. That works out splendidly, especially when you order the Napa Valley with fig jam and goat cheese. The staff can help you pair it with a local beer. Five stars, and you haven’t even seen the movie.

Staying with the casual theme, Boxcar Betty’s is all about the chicken sandwich, and they have veggie options as well, although it’s hard to choose that when the Chicken “Not So Waffle” (waffle, pimento cheese, bacon jam) is tempting from a menu’s reading. If you’re going to do that, then go for the fried pickles too. You don’t need to get in any Oscar dress, after all.

The same Pad Thai you love but with more convenient parking and right around the corner from a theater, this Basil location is definitely more expansive than its downtown neighbor but still delivers consistently good Fresh Basil Rolls, Tom Kha Gai and, of course, noodles. The restaurant’s interior, which focuses on the five elements interpreted in a modern palate, is one of the most stunning east of the Cooper, so it’s a great place to linger long after dinner is done.

Chef Patrick Owens makes delicious and elegant food, so plan for at least a couple of courses to get the full effect. While starting with Mussels with Preserved Lemon and Fennel is extremely tempting, ending with an extra glass from the wine list can be equally so, so make sure and leave room for both. Oh, and for the local fish with Carolina Gold Rice, too. In short, plan so you don’t get distracted and miss the movie. It could be a definite possibility here.

It’s common to hear of diners more than 30 minutes away driving to this restaurant (yours truly included), so if you are this close, it seems a shame to miss it. Traveling off the beaten track will be richly rewarded. What awaits you is attentive staff, salsa samplers, nopalitos salad, and arguably the best Tacos Al Pastor plates in the region.

Maybe “Brooklyn” will get you in the mood for a visit, but you don’t really need an excuse to settle into a booth at this pub in Park Circle. More than just a pour of Guinness, this spot is a sports bar with some memorable food, including fish and chips (order when it’s busy so freshly fried will be guaranteed) and corned beef. What is probably the most interesting to share post-movie with a pint? Hands down the Shepherd’s Pie Nachos, definitely not native to the Green Isle, but you’re in Park Circle anyway, so have some fun.

Yes, you’ll note I’m skipping the Cinebarre servers crouching in the dark to take my whispered order to instead eat like royalty on a budget before the movie at Ali Baba. I can share a feast of Mediterranean apps, including falafel, with a friend, have a Greek salad, and get my warm pita bread fix and still have enough coin left over for a glass of wine later at Cinebarre’s bar.

No doubt the truffle fries are a great reason to visit (see the last “Lowdown” column), and there are plenty of burgers on the menu to pair with them, but Coleman is more than a stop for fries and a beer to drown your sorrows after watching apocalyptic visions or human struggles against nature. The Cobb salad with dijon vinaigrette is reason enough to have hope in the world, with a wonderful ratio of lettuce bed to toppings. And, of course, it goes great with a beer and those fries.