Flaming Blowtorches and Savory Donuts at the Gastro Garage Pop-up

We’re willing to bet that the last time you took your car in for a tune-up you didn’t sit down to a gourmet meal at the auto shop (not counting that expertly brewed drip coffee). But thanks to the mechanically minded chefs at Gastro Garage -- a fiery new immersive dining experience popping up in Hollywood -- your next dinner could be blowtorched to perfection. Sporting welding masks and wielding giant flaming torches, the “gastro mechanics” -- as the chefs are known -- deconstruct familiar dishes (Pizza! Cheesesteaks! S’mores!) and reimagine them as “tanks” -- savory brioche donuts, filled with upscale ingredients before going under the flame. It’s a blazing hot spectacle that’s as fun to watch as it is to eat.

As you’ll see in the video, these signature Gastro Garage tanks are injected with various nitrous foams, topped with gourmet ingredients and then expertly scorched with blowtorches. Highlights include the Cubano tank filled with Gruyère foam, and topped with torched 12-hour slow roasted pork, applewood smoked ham, mustard caviar, and a dill pickle plank; and the Filly tank -- a riff on a Philly cheesesteak -- with an aged sharp white cheddar foam, topped with torched New York strip, onion puree, and truffle salt. And you’ll definitely want to save room for the Campfire tank, which is filled with double chocolate foam, and topped with a torched marshmallow pillow, graham cracker powder, and a chunk of milk chocolate -- you’ll never look at s’mores the same way again (and might consider bringing a blowtorch on your next camping trip).

The Gastro Garage team also uses customized industrial drill bits to skewer marinated meats, including Korean short ribs and teriyaki salmon, and then torches them while rotating the skewers rotisserie-style with drills. The whole flamin’ hot scene goes down in what’s made to look like a vintage auto service bay with hanging hub caps, oil drums, vintage motorcycles, and a rockin’ soundtrack. Diners sit along a counter facing the Gastro mechanics so you can see the combustible culinary experience up-close -- just try not to lean in too close for a selfie.

The crew behind the Gastro Garage includes LA hospitality vets Stewart Levine, Adam Manacker, and James Campbell, who have worked with culinary innovators such as José Andrés and Wolfgang Puck, as well as in iconic venues around LA. They’ve hosted the pop-up across the country, including several events for top celebs.

The Gastro Garage is currently popping up Thursday through Saturday nights until February 11 in a vacant strip-mall space on the corner of La Brea and Sunset next door to the saucy speakeasy Adults Only -- so you can score drinks there before and after dinner. Besides the sit-down meal, you can also order grab-and-go tanks to enjoy in the lounge area of the pop-up, but we highly recommend going for the full experience at the counter -- that is if you can swing a reservation before they sell out. The team is also planning to open a permanent location in the Arts District sometime later this year -- so if you miss them this time around, you’ll have another chance to get your eyebrows singed.

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Danny Jensen is a regular Thrillist contributor; you can find him online at @dannyseamus at Instagram and Twitter.