The word “cabaret” brings with it tons of evocations, many of which are false. All that cabaret means, really, is a combination of song and storytelling; an artist able to perform as their authentic self. And as an audience member, there is usually booze involved. What could be better than that? Los Angeles, of course, has dozens of cabaret venues throughout the city at which top-tier talent from around the world will drop in for performances. Here are some of the best.
Catalina Jazz Club
What: With a slogan like “Nothing but the best in jazz,” Catalina has a lot to live up to. Luckily for patrons and performers alike, it meets expectations. Countless jazz stalwarts have graced its stage including Joe Williams, Marcus Miller, and Dizzie Gillespie. However, Catalina has also welcomed performers from outside the strictly jazz realm as well, including talents from musical theater like James Snyder, Shoshana Bean, and Jason Robert Brown.
The deal: Shows take place Monday through Saturday at 8:30 pm, and Sundays at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Every show requires an admission charge (which varies performer to performer) as well as a dinner or two-drink minimum purchase.
Where: West Hollywood
What: The Gardenia now boasts the title of longest-running cabaret supper club in the entire country, operating for 36 years. With its confluence of old-school Hollywood and New York entertainment, the intentionally intimate spot holds only 65 people at a time and adheres to a classic cabaret design theme sure to help transport audiences to cabaret’s golden age. It’s no wonder artists from all realms of entertainment including musical icons as well as stars of stage and screen, have flocked to perform here.
The deal: Dinner is served nightly from 7–9 pm, with all performances beginning at 9. There’s a performance cover charge, which varies, and a two-drink minimum (dinner, however, is not required).
Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso
Where: Boyle Heights
What: Founded in 2006 by Guillermo Rangel Uribe, Luv Wine Bar y Queso, also known as Eastside Luv or ESL, is the first cabaret venue of its kind, one that’s dedicated entirely to the Mexican-American experience. As such, both the drinks and entertainment are decidedly on-theme, with some of the city’s best sangria and micheladas, as well as featured performances by tons of local Mexican-American talent spanning music, poetry, and comedy.
The deal: ESL is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 pm–2 am. There is no food or drink purchase required (but of course, your experience will surely be enhanced by doing as much!).
What: From one first of its kind to another, Cabaret Tehran is the first venue outside of Iran itself to exclusively promote Iranian music and singers. Carrying on a 35-year tradition, the locale creates an authentically Iranian atmosphere that guarantees the highest quality entertainment and food—at a cost that won’t break the bank.
The deal: For an all-inclusive fee of $30, attendees enjoy the performance as well as a dinner that includes an appetizer, entree, and drink.
What: Created in 2012 with a commitment to all things French, Cabaret Versatile’s costumes, choreography, decor, and performances are all faithful to the original essence of French cabaret. Creative director Lola Ohlala guarantees every attendee at every performance, from the Can Can Dancers to French Burlesque, is immersed into her singularly sexy, elegant, and slightly nostalgic vision.
The deal: Food and drink purchases are not required, however, the bar-lounge atmosphere certainly makes it an ideal place to eat and imbibe while the performance is ongoing.