Food & Drink

12 badass tableside carts that make everything in front of you

Published On 04/29/2014 Published On 04/29/2014
Rivabella

Whether it's guacamole or boozy, liquid nitrogen Otter Pops, there's something awesome about having something prepared tableside. Especially when it's... the boozy, liquid nitrogen Otter Pops, and especially when they're made on an old Delta Airlines booze cart.

Here's a look at LA's 12 coolest tableside carts, one of which totally does the Otter Pops thing.

Cecconi's

Cecconis (click here for address and info)
Beverly Hills
What they make tableside: Bloody Marys
This Beverly Hills Italian spot does a bunch of tableside prep (including de-boning branzino and breaking you off a little ahi tartare something-something), but the clutch-est cart comes out during brunch. They do a build-your-own-but-they'll-still-make-it Bloody, with tons of house-picked veggies, spices, and boozes to choose from.

Skylight Gardens (click here for address and info)
Westwood
What they make tableside: Guacamole
When this spot took over Gardens on Glendon, UCLA students were terrified they'd have to find a new place to have their parents take them for excellent guacamole tableside. That is, until Skylight kept the signature avo-cart. Deep breaths people, deep breaths.

Faith & Flower

Faith & Flower (click here for address and info)
Downtown
What they make tableside: Things involving absinthe
Starting in June, this date-friendly spot will be doing absinthe (???) service. As seen above, fire (??????) is involved.

The Strand House (click here for address and info)
Manhattan Beach
What they do tableside: Open your oysters and make them taste delicious
The South Bay's preeminent ocean-view eatery's got a seasonal raw-bar cart armed with 1) fresh oysters, 2) all the oyster trimmings (horseradish, cocktail sauce, lemons...), and 3) totally un-oyster-related Champagne!

Rivabella

Rivabella (click here for address and info)
West Hollywood
What they make tableside: Ice Cream and Risotto
In a space that once housed Hamburger Hamlet (RIP), this mind-blowing Italian patio space is doing also-mind-blowing cart services -- they've got liquid-nitro ice cream, and a really unique way to do risotto: all of the ingredients are mixed in front of you literally in a cheese wheel, giving the whole thing an extra dose of creamy.

Bazaar (click here for address and info)
Beverly Hills
What they make tableside: Frozen Caipirinhas
Everything here's all about molecular gastronomy, which means their cocktail cart's a stunner. They'll actually freeze a Caipirinha in front of you, with the liquid nitro smoke drawing everyone in the dining room's attention away from their Philly cheesesteak "puffs".

Jeff Miller

The Church Key (click here for address and info)
West Hollywood
What they make tableside: Liquid Nitro Otter Pops
Almost everything at this Sunset Strip "American dim sum" date spot is served on carts, but it's the one totally and utterly amazing non-dim sum thing that steals the show: boozy Otter Pops (!!) that they make right in front of you with liquid nitrogen on an old Delta Airlines alcohol cart.

Kate Mantilini (click here for address and info)
Beverly Hills
What they make tableside: Guacamole
Literally every famous person ever has been here and ordered their guacamole cart, where you can dictate the spiciness and mushiness and onionyness and cilantroness of our city's favorite dip.

Carole Dixon/The Carat Diet

Bourbon Steak (click here for address and info)
Glendale
What they make tableside: Speciality Whiskey Drinks
Michael Mina's just-launched steakhouse serves whiskey a bunch of different ways via their specialty cart, where they'll torch different stuff and infuse your brown liquor with their smoke. It's pretty awesome, actually.

Pearls (click here for address and info)
West Hollywood
What they make tableside: Mimosas
This new addition to the Sunset Strip's got the only kinda cart you'd rather drive than the Mario kind with balloons floating around it: a mimosa cart! It's got all of the obvious stuff: Champagne, fresh juices, and fresh fruit (from blueberries to strawberries, to other things that aren't berries at all).

Boa

Boa (click here for address and info)
West Hollywood
What they make tableside: Caesar Salad
Also on the Strip is this long-standing steakhouse, which does a tableside Ceasar mixed by a dude who flips bottles and makes it all showy, and unsurprisingly (/totally surprisingly?) calls himself "Johnny Salad".

Patina (click here for address and info)
Downtown
What they make tableside: Roasted & Dry-Aged Liberty Duck
The Disney Hall-adjacent, fine-dining restaurant's not skimping: they actually have a whole menu they'll prep tableside, with wallet-busters including roasted & dry-aged Liberty duck. Yeah, get that.

Jeff Miller is the Senior City Editor of Thrillist LA and thinks everything tastes better from a cart, especially dim sum. You can hit him at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @thrillistla on Twitter.

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1. The Church Key 8730 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

The Church Key gets aggressively inventive with its Asian-influenced interpretations of modern American cuisine. Waiters push dim carts around the dining room featuring small plates that are familiar enough for you to recognize (sweet potato gnocchi, curried chicken pot pie) but exciting enough that some will only appeal to the most adventurous of eaters (pig ear cheetos). Signature cocktails continue to challenge expectations: Negronis come in a can and boozy popsicles are a common sighting.

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2. Kate Mantilini 9101 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

Even after more than 25 years, this power-lunch powerhouse in Beverly Hills is still going strong, serving upscale diner classics in its prime Wilshire location. No matter what you're after, KM's got you covered with a menu that includes martinis, a Muenster-topped turkey burger, dry-aged steaks, and an amazing tableside-made guacamole. For that last one, ask for Pablo -- he's been mashing 'cados for more than 20 years.

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3. Bourbon Steak 237 S Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91204 (Glendale)

Brought to you by Chef Michael Mina, Bourbon Steak is a traditional, yet contemporary steakhouse featuring not only tremendous cuts of meat, but also tasty libations.

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4. Faith & Flower 705 West 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (Downtown)

A beautiful Downtown restaurant -- from a Michelin-award winning chef and the guys who founded the Pebble Beach Food & Wine fest -- Faith and Flower serves up a menu of seasonal dishes, classic staples, and a raw bar. The aphrodisiac seafood, vintage touches, and romantic décor, including hand mirrors and candles throughout the eating area, establish this as a prime date night spot.

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5. The Strand House 117 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (South Bay)

This Manhattan Beach eatery draws LA's affluent with four floors of patio dining boasting food from the people behind Grace and Gjilena. Veggie- and seafood-centric, thin-crust pizzas, charcuterie plates, and protein-heavy entrees like spiced New Zealand lamb rack and prime beef filet make ideal partners for fire-roasted baby root vegetables, a glass of Napa Valley wine, and the stunning view of the beach sprawling down below.

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6. BOA 9200 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

This high-end steakhouse on the Strip is known for delicious steaks, sleek decor, and a glamorous clientele. Each cut of meat is perfectly juicy, and though you're undoubtedly here for the 40-day dry-aged New York strip or center-cut filet mignon, the mac & cheese side, made with smoked gouda and cheddar, is worth a trip in itself. And since this is LA, BOA has an entire menu dedicated to gluten-free food (thank god steak is GF).

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7. RivaBella 9201 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (Hollywood)

From the dudes who brought you Katana and Boa comes a totally-enormous Italian trattoria, which, like Ari Gold, has taken over the Hollywood Hamburger Hamlet.

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8. Cecconi's 8764 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

This London transplant's an upscale Italian bistro (glass chandeliers, plush tufted leather banquettes) with subtle hints of '50s ice cream parlor (stationary purple barstools). The food is delicious, but the real star of the show is the build-your-own-but-they'll-still-make-it Bloody Marys at brunch, with tons of house-picked veggies, spices, and boozes to choose from.

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9. The Bazaar by José Andrés 465 S La Cienega, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Beverly Hills)

The Bazaar by José Andrés delivers a whirlwind series of culinary concepts and fantastically designed spaces, all wrapped into the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. A duo of wine bars are the opening act: Rojo embodies the traditional with textbook Spanish tapas (Catalan bruschetta, Iberian ham) while Blanca acts as the playful contemporary sister with avant-garde small plates like foie gras cotton candy. The creativity continues on the mixology-forward menu at Bar Centro, where classics are aggressively reimagined with liquid nitrogen and emulsifications (order a dirty martini and it will be topped with olive brine espuma). There’s more still: the bakery branch Patisserie turns its focus to elegant pastries in a fantastical tea house atmosphere, where afternoon high tea is defined by wanton bonbon consumption. Whatever you go for (not that you have to stop at one venue), expect dramatic furnishings and an adult playground experience.

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10. Pearl's Liquor Bar 8909 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

This WeHo American bar has got a host of delicious 'tails, innovative eats, and a prime people-watching crowd.

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11. Skylight Gardens 1139 Glendon, Westwood, CA 90024 (Westwood)

Soft-opening today right by U-clap-clap-C-clap-clap-L-clap-clap-A, Skylight Gardens is a date-or-parental-visit-friendly Italian trattoria in the old Gardens on Glendon space, maintaining the previous tenant's circular feel and now-namesake skylight, while adding tons of foliage, extra rustic brick walls, and a rotunda-hanging chandelier that appears to be made of antlers -- oh, deer!

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12. Patina 141 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

This French-inspired Downtown eatery is located on the side of the Disney Hall -- making it that much more magical (sorry, we had to). Indulge in the fish or one of many delicious desserts.

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