Tableside Dining Is Making a Comeback, and Here Are 20 of the Best Experiences to Check Out

Think: a doughnut ice cream sundae flambéed right before you.

The adage "what’s old is new again" rings true in fashion circles, but it’s apt for restaurants too. In the case of dining out, the time feels right to get dressed up and go out to dinner, where you’ll discover that many restaurants are bringing back engaging tableside food preparations. From desserts flambéed in the dining room to roaming bar carts, these experiences engage all your senses and turn dinner into a show (pretty much the opposite of sitting on your couch and eating takeout). Read on for our favorite new spins on tableside dishes from coast to coast.

Tableside Sundae at Wild Honey Smokehouse and Tavern

Atlantic City, New Jersey

There’s plenty of gambling to be had in Atlantic City but rolling the dice on a cool dining experience isn’t a chance we’re willing to take. Enter the newly opened Wild Honey Smokehouse and Tavern at the Tropicana, where regional barbecue fare and top-notch coastal seafood get equal billing. Be sure to save room for the made-for-sharing sundae. Scoops of ice cream are piled onto a jumbo donut base, showered in toppings and topped with cinnamon syrup that’s smoked tableside with a double barrel smoker. If you’d rather end the evening with a sweet-leaning nightcap, opt for the Smoked Cinnamon Fireball, a cinnamon-whiskey-based tipple that’s smoked with cinnamon and garnished with a skewered mini cinnamon bun.

Tableside Shawarma at Au Za’atar

New York, New York

There’s a dizzying array of mezze and grilled meats to choose from at New York City’s Au Za’atar, a Middle Eastern restaurant with Lebanese roots. But what really gets heads spinning is the off-menu tableside shawarma. Fresh cuts of beef, lamb or chicken are marinated for 24 hours in a proprietary spice blend before being stacked on a miniature rotating vertical spit. The dish arrives at the table with the meat still roasting. It’s served with sumac-dusted hand-cut fries, grilled tomatoes and onions and plenty of thin pita pockets. Customize your shawarma sandwich with sauces and garnishes like tahini, toum (a whipped garlic spread), za’atar-spiked aioli, hot sauce, pickled turnips and pickled cucumbers.

Grasshopper Baked Alaska at Delilah

Las Vegas, Nevada

Housed inside the Wynn Las Vegas, Delilah’s opulent setting evokes a glam 1920’s Hollywood lounge, while the menu re-interprets the supper club of yore into modern day magic. The dessert menu is particularly whimsical, so be sure to save room. We’re particularly smitten with the Grasshopper Baked Alaska, a retro-inspired mash-up for 4 to 6 people featuring mint chocolate chip ice cream, dark chocolate ganache and creme de menthe chocolate cake. It’s showcased on sleek bar cart and then flambéed tableside.

Steak Tartare Cigars at The Green Room

Burbank, California

Tucked away within the hilltop restaurant Castaway you’ll find The Green Room, a classy cocktail bar with panoramic views of Los Angeles. Drinks and dishes alike offer a dose of A-list drama, including the steak tartare cigars presented in a cigar box that emits smoke from burnt onion ash as it’s opened. The cigars are made with thin sheets of brick pastry dough (akin to phyllo), steak tartare and caviar. If you’re after something sweet but can’t make up your mind, opt for the Up Up and Away dessert tower that arrives with lit sparklers.

Caviar Bubble Tea at Jean-Georges Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

At the newly re-opened Jean-Georges Philadelphia inside the Four Seasons, the luxe six-course tasting menu kicks off with a surprise: a tableside pouring of their exclusive caviar bubble tea. Diners are offered a champagne flute filled partway with Golden Osetra caviar from famed purveyor Petrossian. Servers place the flute in front of you, fill it with house-made almond milk infused with fresh dill and give you a glass straw for sipping which calls to mind slurping tapioca pearls from bubble tea.

Bistecca at Cucina 8 ½

New York, New York

Cucina 8 1/2, a new restaurant in the heart of midtown Manhattan, exudes elegance befitting its environs in the iconic Solow Building. Here, the rustic Italian menu offers several dishes prepared tableside as a throwback to the old-school glamor of dining out in NYC. The crowning glory is the Bistecca, a 38-oz certified angus beef prime porterhouse that’s dry-aged for 45 days and rubbed with a blend of ground rosemary, salt and oil, inspired by a typical preparation in central Italy’s beef-famous Maremma region. The steak exits the kitchen with a flaming sprig of rosemary and is carved tableside to reveal a gorgeous rosy interior. Soon, the restaurant will offer zabaglione whipped tableside with the diner’s choice of Marsala wine, Lambrusco or Champagne.

Sizzling Tofu at Phat Eatery

Houston, Texas

Houston’s Phat Eatery is beloved for its assortment of Malaysian dishes, but the house favorite is the Sizzling Tofu. House-made egg tofu is steamed, cubed and fried to an optimum ratio of crispy exterior to silky interior. The rich, custardy cubes are mounded on a fried egg in a cast iron pan, then whisked to the table where a server pours a luxurious sauce over the top to create a rip-roaring sizzle and glossy finish. Diners can choose from a minced chicken sauce, chopped shrimp sauce or seasonal vegetable sauce.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Miss River

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Four Seasons Hotel might seem like an unlikely place to score some of the best fried chicken in town, but at Miss River in New Orleans, the bird is the word. Chef Alon Shaya’s whole buttermilk fried chicken is so impressive and popular, diners have been known to take selfies with it. A buttermilk brined chicken is seasoned with a Creole-inspired spice, dredged, fried whole, presented tableside and carved. The chicken is served with a trio of dipping sauces, including Mississippi honey, spicy chili crunch and persillade, a parsley-ginger-garlic pesto.

Côte “Maison du Bœuf” at Fanny’s

Los Angeles, Nevada

Hollywood is synonymous with show businesses, so it should come as no surprise that live performance is central at Fanny’s, the restaurant inside the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in L.A. Here, the head-turning A-list dish is the Cote "Maison du Boeuf," a salt-crusted, bone-in, dry-aged prime rib roasted to medium-rare perfection. Servers deliver the whole rack to the table on a trolley, then artfully carve individual steaks which are plated then finished with roasted shallot jus and coarse grey sea salt. The steak comes with a baked potato, horseradish cream and roasted tomato hollandaise. And don’t sleep on the tableside Caesar salad. Servers first mix an anchovy roasted jalapeno dressing in front of you, toss it with a bunch of leafy greens and finish the dish with shaved Parmesan, fennel fronds and blue corn tortilla chips.

Vanilla Bean Custard Cart at The Continental

Nashville, Tennessee

At The Continental, located inside the Grand Hyatt Nashville, chef Sean Brock unites his devotion for American culinary history with a throwback to the glory days of posh hotel dining. Tableside presentations abound, including a classic prime rib topped with horseradish cream and natural jus, and for dessert, a vanilla bean custard cream served via a dedicated cart. The vanilla custard-based cream ice is finished with a rotating selection of seasonal toppings and shaved ice. Recent combinations have featured citrus creme with pomelo ice and mulled pear with cranberry ice. The mix of creamy and icy textures calls to mind a scoop shop sherbet but make it classy.

Flaming Duck at Hutong

New York, New York

At Hutong, the most sought-after seatings are Monday through Thursday, when the restaurant offers five reservations a night for its iconic flaming duck. Chef Martin Mak, whose other title is Head of Barbeque, uses a top-secret process for marinating the duck and infusing it with a proprietary blend of Northern Chinese ingredients to create tender meat with exceptionally crispy skin. When the duck is ignited tableside, the flames make the skin crackle and bring out the aroma of peppery chilies. Diners enjoy traditional accompaniments, including steamed pancakes, cucumbers, spring onions and duck sauce, plus some creative additions like shredded papaya, sweet cantaloupe and honey mustard sauce.

Baba au Rhum at Gage & Tollner

New York, New York

Historic Brooklyn steakhouse Gage & Tollner boasts a menu of classic chophouse fare with retro-glam décor to match. You can’t go wrong with any of pastry chef Caroline Schiff’s delectable desserts but be sure to inquire about the off-menu Baba au Rhum. This lemon curd-filled vanilla cake soaked in rum syrup is the stuff boozy dessert dreams are made of. The tableside presentation is a two-person affair: one server carries a silver tray with the cake, a rum-soaked sugar cube and a miniature hammered copper Turkish coffee pot filled with rum. Using a pair of tongs, the second server picks up the sugar cube, lights it over a tea candle, and drops it into the copper pot, transforming the rum inside into a blaze of blue. Finally, the server pours the flaming rum onto the cake, to dazzling effect.

Whole Salt Crusted Fish at The Betty

Atlanta, Georgia

Lavish, grand-dame-esque The Betty nods to mid-century supper clubs. Don’t miss executive chef Brandon Chavannes’ interpretation of salt baked fish. He filets fresh whole fish, such as snapper, covers it with blanched collard greens, coats it with coarse salt and slow bakes it. The whole dish is presented tableside, where a server sets the dish aflame to create an Instagram-worthy spectacle. Servers then crack open the salt crust to reveal the tender, flavorful filets within.

Kasoori Methi Chicken Tikka at Baazi

New York, New York

Baazi, the Hindu word for bet, is a nod to chef-owner Gaurav Anand’s gamble to open a sophisticated restaurant concept despite pandemic-era challenges. He veers away from typical Indian restaurant fare such as chicken tikka masala with bold dishes like Kasoori Methi Chicken Tikka, which is flambéed tableside. The server presents the chicken pieces, which have been marinated with toasted fenugreek, smoked paprika and sherry vinegar, along with a mini grill and a flask of Old Monk Rum. Anand pours the rum over the chicken and lights it on fire. Besides creating a stunning visual effect, the flambé adds a touch of smokiness, char and oakiness.

Sizzling Striped Bass Sashimi at Mr. Tuna

Portland, Maine

Maine is usually synonymous with lobster, but when it comes to sushi, Portland’s Mr. Tuna is top notch. Chef Jordan Rubin has earned a reputation for his stunning sashimi, specifically the sizzling striped bass sashimi. Here, hot oil is poured over thinly sliced sea bass sashimi dressed with soy sauce, yuzu, ginger, scallion, daikon radish and togarashi. The oil gently cooks the fish before diners’ eyes, making for a dramatic presentation and bringing out the aromatics of the sauce.

Tableside G&T at Corrida

Boulder, Colorado

Corrida, a rooftop Spanish chophouse in Boulder, offers plenty of visual appeal including unhindered views of the Flatiron Mountains and dazzling tableside mixology. Back in the day, martinis served tableside were the epitome of cocktail cool. Here, it’s all about the gin and tonic, which includes classic and seasonal riffs mixed and poured from the dedicated G&T cart, which often features locally made products such as Woody Creek gin from Basalt and Strongwater tonic from Denver. Flavor profiles are built around each gin’s botanical make-up and seasonal garnishes, including fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. There’s also a non-alcoholic gin and tonic called Sin y Tonica—a recent iteration featured Amass non-alcoholic gin paired with fresh rosemary and tonic.

Handpulled Mozzarella at Superfrico

Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But we’re willing to bet that you won’t be able to resist sharing your dining experience at Superfrico at the Cosmopolitan, especially if you order the tableside mozzarella. One pound of fresh mozzarella curds is stretched tableside to create luscious results that are dished out while still warm alongside irresistible accoutrements fresh Puccia bread, marinated tomato, basil, salumi, warmed olives and roasted peppers.

Tzatziki Service at Krasi

Boston, Massachusetts

Airy Greek restaurant Krasi in the Back Bay neighborhood is outfitted with classic Greek souvla. Don’t miss the tzatziki, which ascends from its typical role as supporting cast member to the spotlight. In this interactive experience, diners are guided to mix and customize their own version of the yogurt-based dip using Greek yogurt, fresh dill, cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, pure Greek olive oil and freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper. The dips are served with homemade sourdough crisps.

Birria Tacos at Paloma Suerte

Fort Worth, Texas

At Paloma Suerte, you’ll find a roster of Tex-Mex favorites including birria tacos assembled in the middle of the dining room so guests can take in the sizzling aromas. Meats like short rib, Muscovy duck or Texas goat are cooked low and slow until fork-tender, then piled in fat-dipped tortillas and cooked in cast iron until crispy and golden-brown. Accompaniments include diced onions, cilantro and broth for dipping and drinking.

Cheese on Fire at The Electric Jane

Nashville, Tennessee

\Befitting its Music City roots, The Electric Jane is equal parts top-notch restaurant and live entertainment club. And sometimes, menu items pull inspiration from both worlds. To wit, the Cheese on Fire rolls dinner and a show into one showstopping fan favorite. Modelled after Greek saganaki, a flaming fried cheese dish, dish features springy halloumi cheese that’s doused in a bit of absinthe and seared tableside to flaming perfection. The cheese is paired with honey and flatbread.