The way we eat has changed dramatically this year - and with all of the constant shifts and uncertainty, restaurants and chefs have had to get creative. Tons of pop-ups have recently, well, popped up, in San Francisco, the Bay Area, (and across the country) - and they’re having lots of success, especially as we adjust to a more takeout-focused lifestyle. From cinnamon rolls and arepas to cheesy, gooey pupusas, here are 39 pop-ups you should know about right now.
Hermanita is a pop-up highlighting food from Baja, Mexico, serving things like pozole rojo, lamb barbacoa, and chicken tamales. It operates out of Uma Casa on Saturdays and Nana’s Pop-Up Market on Sundays, and is first come, first serve - so be sure to get there early. Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates.
Jack and Remi Ice Cream
Marlena, a new-ish American restaurant in Bernal Heights, has started a small-batch ice cream pop-up out of their space. You can order flavors like the Go Getter (coffee with chocolate cookie crumbles) or the Troublemaker (vanilla with huckleberry preserves) for pick-up or delivery, here.
LoJo's Taco Shop
Get your breakfast taco fix at LoJo’s Tacos, a pop-up operating out of Avedano’s Meats in Bernal Heights. Their flour tortillas are filled with everything from maple-glazed bacon and eggs to chorizo and homestyle potatoes. You can stop by on Saturday mornings from 8am-noon, and take your tacos to Holly Park.
The Dunkin Taco
On Sundays, head to The Wolfhound Bar in Oakland for some cheesy, meaty quesabirria tacos, courtesy of The Dunkin Taco. They also recently started offering vegan options, including a plant-based taco filled with a roasted root and veggie medley, black beans, and vegan cheese. Walk up or text 415-597-6668 to order.
This Castro Valley-based pop-up is a collaboration between three chefs - one of whom was behind the Venezuelan pop-up, Tavo’s Joint, which is currently on pause. The Latin-inspired menu has burritos, tacos, and quesadillas filled with things like pork chile verde or beef barbacoa, as well as a breakfast arepa sandwich and cachapas con jamón. The pop-up is currently accepting walk-up orders only, Thursday to Saturday.
The Taiwanese pop-up focuses on two dishes: beef noodle soup and a braised pork rice bowl, available for pick-up or delivery in SF or Oakland. Pre-orders have been known to sell out fast, so keep an eye on their Instagram to see when the next order drops.
Akna is a new Mayan-Yucatecan pop-up in the since-closed Barcino space in Hayes Valley. Their extensive menu has a dozen different tacos filled with everything from cochinita pibil to lamb al pastor, and rice plates, salads, and breakfast dishes. Rounding out the menu are desserts, like flan and buñuelos, and bottled cocktails and beer. Order your food to go Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-8pm.
Schlok's Bagels & Lox
Two chefs from the recently shut-down jerk chicken pop-up Broke Ass Cooks have a new chicken-focused pop-up called Michoz. Every weekend, they offer Peruvian grilled chicken, fried yucca, and chicken fat rice for pickup out of The Hidden Cafe in Berkeley, and delivery in some East Bay cities. Pre-orders typically start a week in advance, but check Instagram for updates.
Okkon Japanese Street Food
Okkon specializes in okonomiyaki, savory pancakes you can customize with bacon, mozzarella, shrimp, and more. Consider pairing the okonomiyaki with some gyoza, and get it all to go along with beer, sake, or natural wine. Okkon operates out of Soba Ichi in Oakland.
The creamy, Japanese-inspired Basque cheesecakes from Basuku Cheesecakes have been known to sell out in less than 15 seconds, so if you want to get your hands on one you’ll need lightning-fast reflexes - and probably a dose of luck. Pick-up locations across the Bay change, so your best bet is to keep an eye on their Instagram for updates and instructions on how to order - and may the odds be in your favor.
Dela Curo Curry
For Japanese black curry, you’ll want to track down Dela Curo Curry, an East Bay-based pop-up that specializes in it. They make theirs with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and wagyu beef, and serve it with katsu or over omurice. You can usually find them at Berkeley Bowl West, Delage, or Masabaga - but keep an eye on their Instagram for updates. Pre-order online here.
Chicken Dog Bagel
Alex Rogers is operating Chicken Dog Bagels out of PizzaHacker in Bernal Heights on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Rogers specializes in sourdough bagels and bagel sandwiches filled with lox or smoked trout rillettes. In case you’re wondering, Chicken is his dog. Pre-order here at noon the day before you want to pick up your bagels, or walk up to order.
Every time the temperature drops below 60, a little voice in our subconscious tells us to order noodle soup, or else. We can’t really explain it. But thanks to Sunset Slurps, a new pop-up operating out of Joint Venture Kitchen in SoMa, we can have hot bowls of bun bo hue delivered to keep us warm. Their menu also has bun rieu and spring rolls with a special house sauce. Order for pickup online or delivery via the apps.
If the phrase “earl grey crème brûlée pie” didn’t just give you goosebumps, we have nothing in common. It’s on the menu at Edith’s Pie, an Oakland pop-up that sells just one type of pie every week, ranging from broccolini and cheddar quiche to apple cranberry to the aforementioned crème brûlée pie. Orders open on Tuesday mornings - check Instagram for updates.
Poppy Bagels makes some of the best we’ve tried recently - chewy, with a crackly crust, and well-seasoned all over. They have occasional pop-ups (past locations include Roses’ Taproom in Oakland, and a Queens in the Sunset), but if you’d rather pre-order, you can do so here for delivery or pick-up in SF or the East Bay.
There’s only one thing on the menu at this new Oakland pop-up: pastrami sandwiches. And they come in many different ways - from classic pastrami and mustard on rye bread to one with triple-cooked fries, aioli, curry ketchup, and a fried egg. All of their sandwiches are available vegan, too, with a pastrami made from celery root. They’re at Port Kitchens Marketplace in Jack London Square - pop-up dates vary, so check their Instagram for updates.
Intu-on is an Isaan Thai pop-up currently operating Saturday and Sunday out of Hayes Valley’s Birba Wine Bar, and Fridays at The Hidden Cafe in Berkeley. The chef, who previously worked at Kin Khao and LA’s Night + Market, is offering things like papaya salad, shrimp mousse toast, and crispy curry rice, which you can get a la carte or as part of a bento box tasting menu. Check their Instagram for menu updates.
Keep an eye on the Ghanaian pop-up’s Instagram for future pop-ups, which have been known to sell out quickly. The menu changes, but expect to see dishes like chinchinga, chicken palaver, stewed okra, and hibiscus bofrot.
Eric Chow, a Tartine Bakery alum and pastry chef from Bar Agricole, is currently focusing on making scones, crostatas, and fluffy, coffee-flavored cinnamon rolls. You can order them on Wednesdays for delivery, or stop by Excelsior Coffee or Magnolia Mini Mart on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Frolic & Detour pops up once a month at Deli Board and Garden Creamery, and focuses on cookies. They have eight different flavors that all sound great - including masala chai molasses, birthday cake, and chocolate espresso passion fruit - so if you want to try them all, your best bet is to order at least one of each. If you can’t wait for Frolic & Detour’s pop-ups to get your hands on these cookies, you can also place an order online - you’ll get a box of 12 for next day pickup at Saint Frank Coffee in Russian Hill.
The dishes at this pop-up draw on the chefs’ Filipino and Japanese cultures - so expect things like chicken karaage sandwiches, yakisoba pan, mentaiko pancit, and more. You can subscribe to their weekly Japanese sandwich plan or order takeout for pickup in SF. Check their Instagram for the latest menus and updates.
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Stop by the Hawaiian pop-up for kalua pork sliders, furikake fries, and excellent plate lunches with salt and pepper karaage and macaroni salad. Before outdoor dining was shut down, Unco Frank’s was regularly operating out of The Devil’s Acre in North Beach. Check their Instagram for future pop-up dates and locations.
Last year, Eko Kitchen became SF’s first and only Nigerian restaurant - and after a fire burned down their commercial kitchen in July, they’ve since moved operations to Merkado’s space in SoMa. The menu changes, but they have combo meals (including things like smoky jollof rice, chicken with roasted pepper sauce, gizdodo, and puff puffs) available to-go every Sunday. You can use apps for delivery, or call or order ahead for pickup.
The Uptown Oakland pop-up serves excellent Salvadoran food - pupusas, enchiladas, and trout smoked over a comal - out of Classic Cars West Beer Garden. They’ve also got a “dinner for two” (it comes with four pupusas and sides), and pints of escabeche, beans, and hot sauce to-go. They’re open Thursday to Saturday from 5:30-9pm.
From Wednesday to Sunday, Abrazo in Russian Hill is hosting a pop-up called Miguelito’s. They’re selling charred octopus tacos with chorizo aioli and citrus slaw, carne asada street tacos, carnitas, chicken, elotes, and more out of Abrazo’s side door on Union Street. And if you want an extra kick, ask for their house-made habanero salsa, which they’re selling by the bottle.
Our spot in the Mission for Italian small plates and cocktails is now popping up on Divisadero. So if you’re in NoPa and are suddenly hit with the all-consuming need for burrata, like, right now, you’re in luck. They’re currently open for takeout and delivery.
Al Pastor Papi
If (and by if, we mean when) you’re in desperate need of some al pastor, check Al Pastor Papi’s Instagram to see where their truck is at. The location changes every day, but they’re typically around SF. If, by some miraculous force, you don’t want al pastor, they’ve also got carne asada, chicken, and nopales - all of which you can get in tacos, open-faced quesadillas, burritos, or bowls.
Since 2017, The Vegan Hood Chefs have been bringing plant-based soul food to SF, and healthier options to local Black and brown communities that have historically lacked access to them. They’re mostly catering right now, but occasionally pop up around the city (check their Instagram for updates). The menu varies, but expect to see things like lobster mac and cheese, oyster po’boys, or sweet potato and black bean tacos. You can also place a catering order on their website.
The team behind Low Bar, a new cocktail bar that’s put its opening on pause due to the pandemic, recently launched a Mexican pop-up called Chancho’s. They’re selling burritos and tamales with salsa verde chicken or roasted poblano chile that you can also order by the half-dozen. Chancho’s has operated out of Itani Ramen and Heart and Dagger Saloon in the past, but check their Instagram for the current location.
Angela Pinkerton, who was previously a pastry chef at Che Fico, is now making excellent pies for pick-up. The menu changes weekly with what’s in season (so keep an eye on their website), but expect things like Gravenstein apple, pluot raspberry with a brown butter shortbread crumble, key lime, and passionfruit and bay leaf meringue pie. Five- and nine-inch pies are available for pick-up at Fiorella, Nido, and other spots in SF and Oakland on weekends.
What started as experimental, hybrid recipes between an Indonesian-Singaporean chef and her Mexican partner became a pop-up serving Indonesian and Mexican-inspired brunch. On certain Sundays, stop by IndoMex (operating out of Xingones in Old Oakland), where you can either pick up your order or sit outside and eat beef rendang chilaquiles, a salsa-y sambal, and pandan flan. Be sure to order ahead, and check Instagram for pop-up dates.
The Mana'eesh Lady
The Filipino pop-up has seven-course dinners and prepared food to-go. Their offerings change periodically, but standbys include things like chicken inasal, lumpia, pancit luglug, and sisig fried rice. You can pick up in SF from Wednesday to Saturday, or have your food delivered. Place your order online.
Over the last few years, Chef Smelly’s massive plates of Creole dishes have drawn lines around the block. And even now in pandemic times, things are no different. Here’s how you do it: head to Au Lounge in Uptown Oakland on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday from 5-9pm, and wait your turn for blackened prawns, surf & turf fries, sweet chili garlic chicken, garlic noodles, and more. Check Instagram for the menu and updates - and note that it’s walk-up orders only.
If you’re always on the lookout for the newest fried chicken sandwich, check out Fowl + Fare in Oakland. Their sandwiches change occasionally, but one they always have is the classic with chipotle aioli, pear slaw, and a fried chicken thigh. Others include a Mediterranean fried chicken sandwich with feta tzatziki, za’atar, and tomato mint jam, and one with bacon black garlic ranch. Fowl + Fare is usually at Port Kitchens Marketplace on weekends, but check their Instagram for pop-up days and location.
In the Things Bay Area People Love hierarchy, freshly baked sourdough comes pretty close to the top of the list. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Haight Loaves in SF is making sourdough loaves, sandwich bread, and focaccia, and focaccia pizza on Fridays. You can place an order for pick-up online or by DM-ing them on Instagram.
This Vietnamese spot doesn’t pop up on a regular schedule. But if you check their Instagram and find a date is approaching, put it on your calendar immediately - so you can look forward to things like papaya salad, braised pork belly, and pandan butter mochi. In the past, they’ve had set dinner menus for pickup and delivery in SF, and recently, they had an a la carte menu and outdoor dining at The Showdown in North Beach.
Smashburger enthusiasts, rejoice - Smish Smash is making thin, crispy, caramelized smashburgers out of Neptune’s in Alameda, Thursdays through Sundays - and they’re absolutely delicious. Fried chicken sandwiches, fries, and weekly specials, like their recent uni burger or Mk’Rib, are also on the menu. Same day pre-orders can be placed here.
We checked out Smish Smash - read about it here.