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Corrida’s new gin and tonic cart in Boulder
Jennifer Olson [official]

Where to Find Tableside Service Around Denver

Bar carts, jamón carts, cannoli carts, and more

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Corrida’s new gin and tonic cart in Boulder
| Jennifer Olson [official]

For better or worse, most of the trappings of traditional fine dining got scrapped some years back as restaurateurs began to take a more casual tack to service. (When was the last time you were presented with a plate beneath a silver cloche by someone wearing white gloves?) But one vestige of old-school showmanship remains: the tableside preparation. In fact, carts are enjoying a bit of a comeback. Here’s where to catch them in action around Denver — and note that, as of May 8, Super Mega Bien will join the list.

Note: Restaurants are ordered geographically rather than ranked. Have another favorite spot for tableside service? Leave a note in the comments or send us a tip.

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Corrida

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Just in time for patio season, Bryan Dayton and Amos Watts’s new Spanish sensation in Boulder is rolling out a cart with all the makings of a perfect gin and tonic (or gin-tonic, to use the preferred term overseas). Make that six gin and tonics: Named for their flavor profiles, the options range from the Earth with bell pepper, carrot top, and artichoke leaf to the Floral Spice with serrano chile, espresso bean, and grapefruit.

Jennifer Olson [official]

Frasca Food and Wine

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Like everything else at Boulder’s No. 1 dining destination, the digestif cart is a head-turner. “Its appearance is very eye-catching,” says bar manager Brent Oberholzer, stocked as it is with everything from “hand-blown grappa bottles to beautiful vintage glassware,” as well as aged Chartreuse, varied amari, and other liquid luxuries. Of course the staff is about as well-versed in the offerings as the distillers themselves could ever be.

Frasca Food and Wine [official]

Lola Coastal Mexican

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This LoHi longtimer has been wheeling out the guacamole wagon for as long as we can remember. As well it should: What more festive way to kick off an evening of margaritas and mariscos than by cheering on a server who’s mashing, seasoning, and garnishing our all-time favorite chip dip to order?

Big Red F [official]

Tavernetta

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Frasca’s Union Station sibling has a free-wheeler of its own: a bubbly cart. Holding the four sparklers that are regularly available by the glass as well as a fifth bottle du jour, “it’s an engaging and interactive way to build a sparkling-wine culture here in Denver,” general manager Justin Williams explains. Guests have the chance to try something new daily — be it a luxury cuvée, a grower Champagne, or the house Prosecco.

Zoe Perlmutter/Tavernetta

Cooper Lounge

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During aperitif hour in Union Station’s luxe mezzanine lounge, hors d’oeuvres from the trolley are yours for the gazing at and grazing on: Think miniature short-rib pot pies, mac-and-cheese croquettes with honeycomb, and yogurt-drizzled, curried chicken satay, as well as oysters some weekends (the selection changes regularly). Cap off the app-fest with a Spanish coffee from the separate drink cart, built and flamed tableside for a little olé flourish.

Denver Union Station [official]

Hearth & Dram

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Order anything off the reserve list at this Union Station glamour haven — be it an ultra-premium whiskey or an upgrade on a classic cocktail — and you’ll have front-row seats to the greatest show on wheels, as the bartender works mixological magic from behind the beverage cart. (Hotel guests who spring for the amenity of a $150 tasting can view it in the privacy of their own room.)

Halle Jones/Hearth & Dram

Urban Farmer Denver

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Just steps away from Kachina, another Sage Hospitality property rolls out the red carpet — or at least the silver cart — for guests with a taste for drama. Chef Chris Starkus and the team at this contemporary LoDo steakhouse not only whip up steak tartare but also sauté mushrooms in garlic butter and Marsala and, depending on market availability, fillet and serve salt-crusted whole fish to boot — all before your very eyes.

Urban Farmer/Facebook

Kachina Cantina

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Tacos rock, but tamales on trolleys rule — which is why this Southwestern kitchen celebrates Tamale Tuesdays each week from 5 p.m. onward. From a cart loaded up with corn husk–wrapped and steamed masa pockets, proteins, cheeses, salsas, and garnishes, diners can mix and match ingredients to their heart’s, gut’s, and wallet’s content at $5 a pop.

Camila Navarrette/Eater

French 75

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Garlic, anchovies, and roughage aren’t exactly the stuff of romance. Unless, that is, they’re being incorporated into a Caesar salad tableside for two, as at Frank Bonanno’s bistro. Then they work like a charm — a salty, tangy, crisp and crunchy charm.

Bonanno Concepts [official]

Barcelona Wine Bar

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Here’s another Spanish newcomer with floor flair: This RiNo hot spot carves the prized ham known as jamón Mangalica for up-close and personal viewing pleasure. And they do it right — the Connecticut-based chain employs a cortador, or trained cutter, to teach servers how to handle the leg with TLC.

Troy Lilly [official]

Quality Italian

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Last but not least, this Cherry Creek chophouse offers not one, not two, but three different tableside experiences. At dinner, the lobster that tops the rigatoni gets flambéed in vodka sauce on the mobile burner. (The baked clams are sauced when served too.) For dessert, eaters can watch as the cream’s piped into a birthday-cake or chocolate-coffee cannoli. And come brunch, the roving Bellini cart’s in business to ply diners with the namesake libation in flavors like white peach and cucumber-lime.

Brittany Resnick/Quality Italian

Corrida

Just in time for patio season, Bryan Dayton and Amos Watts’s new Spanish sensation in Boulder is rolling out a cart with all the makings of a perfect gin and tonic (or gin-tonic, to use the preferred term overseas). Make that six gin and tonics: Named for their flavor profiles, the options range from the Earth with bell pepper, carrot top, and artichoke leaf to the Floral Spice with serrano chile, espresso bean, and grapefruit.

Jennifer Olson [official]

Frasca Food and Wine

Like everything else at Boulder’s No. 1 dining destination, the digestif cart is a head-turner. “Its appearance is very eye-catching,” says bar manager Brent Oberholzer, stocked as it is with everything from “hand-blown grappa bottles to beautiful vintage glassware,” as well as aged Chartreuse, varied amari, and other liquid luxuries. Of course the staff is about as well-versed in the offerings as the distillers themselves could ever be.

Frasca Food and Wine [official]

Lola Coastal Mexican

This LoHi longtimer has been wheeling out the guacamole wagon for as long as we can remember. As well it should: What more festive way to kick off an evening of margaritas and mariscos than by cheering on a server who’s mashing, seasoning, and garnishing our all-time favorite chip dip to order?

Big Red F [official]

Tavernetta

Frasca’s Union Station sibling has a free-wheeler of its own: a bubbly cart. Holding the four sparklers that are regularly available by the glass as well as a fifth bottle du jour, “it’s an engaging and interactive way to build a sparkling-wine culture here in Denver,” general manager Justin Williams explains. Guests have the chance to try something new daily — be it a luxury cuvée, a grower Champagne, or the house Prosecco.

Zoe Perlmutter/Tavernetta

Cooper Lounge

During aperitif hour in Union Station’s luxe mezzanine lounge, hors d’oeuvres from the trolley are yours for the gazing at and grazing on: Think miniature short-rib pot pies, mac-and-cheese croquettes with honeycomb, and yogurt-drizzled, curried chicken satay, as well as oysters some weekends (the selection changes regularly). Cap off the app-fest with a Spanish coffee from the separate drink cart, built and flamed tableside for a little olé flourish.

Denver Union Station [official]

Hearth & Dram

Order anything off the reserve list at this Union Station glamour haven — be it an ultra-premium whiskey or an upgrade on a classic cocktail — and you’ll have front-row seats to the greatest show on wheels, as the bartender works mixological magic from behind the beverage cart. (Hotel guests who spring for the amenity of a $150 tasting can view it in the privacy of their own room.)

Halle Jones/Hearth & Dram

Urban Farmer Denver

Just steps away from Kachina, another Sage Hospitality property rolls out the red carpet — or at least the silver cart — for guests with a taste for drama. Chef Chris Starkus and the team at this contemporary LoDo steakhouse not only whip up steak tartare but also sauté mushrooms in garlic butter and Marsala and, depending on market availability, fillet and serve salt-crusted whole fish to boot — all before your very eyes.

Urban Farmer/Facebook

Kachina Cantina

Tacos rock, but tamales on trolleys rule — which is why this Southwestern kitchen celebrates Tamale Tuesdays each week from 5 p.m. onward. From a cart loaded up with corn husk–wrapped and steamed masa pockets, proteins, cheeses, salsas, and garnishes, diners can mix and match ingredients to their heart’s, gut’s, and wallet’s content at $5 a pop.

Camila Navarrette/Eater

French 75

Garlic, anchovies, and roughage aren’t exactly the stuff of romance. Unless, that is, they’re being incorporated into a Caesar salad tableside for two, as at Frank Bonanno’s bistro. Then they work like a charm — a salty, tangy, crisp and crunchy charm.

Bonanno Concepts [official]

Barcelona Wine Bar

Here’s another Spanish newcomer with floor flair: This RiNo hot spot carves the prized ham known as jamón Mangalica for up-close and personal viewing pleasure. And they do it right — the Connecticut-based chain employs a cortador, or trained cutter, to teach servers how to handle the leg with TLC.

Troy Lilly [official]

Quality Italian

Last but not least, this Cherry Creek chophouse offers not one, not two, but three different tableside experiences. At dinner, the lobster that tops the rigatoni gets flambéed in vodka sauce on the mobile burner. (The baked clams are sauced when served too.) For dessert, eaters can watch as the cream’s piped into a birthday-cake or chocolate-coffee cannoli. And come brunch, the roving Bellini cart’s in business to ply diners with the namesake libation in flavors like white peach and cucumber-lime.

Brittany Resnick/Quality Italian

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