Why the surge of pop-ups in the last year? The trend-in short, mobile chef-driven concepts-reflects the way we enjoy cooking and dining out today: casually and with room for experimentation.
Why the surge of pop-ups in the last year? The trend-in short, mobile chef-driven concepts-reflects the way we enjoy cooking and dining out today: casually and with room for experimentation. Whether a pop-up is a one-night stand or a longtime marriage, it means little overhead for chefs and plenty of flexibility for diners. "People are getting more comfortable with [pop-ups], because it's just fun for everyone," says chef Catie Randazzo of Challah! food truck, who is planning a collaborative pop-up brunch with Four Thieves in March. "The chefs get to do their thing, which may not be what they do during the week, and people don't have to commit the way they do at a traditional restaurant." Whether a pop-up pro or first timer, or looking for something dashing to dive-y, here's how to find the right concept for you.
This national pop-up club is joining the city's dining scene. A paid membership allows diners to attend any of the group's planned 60-plus events throughout the year. dinnerlab.com
To owner Kate Djupe, The Commissary is a living, breathing community space. Visit the 16,000-foot commercial kitchen in Marble Cliff, and there's no telling what you'll find-or, rather, eat. thecommissarycolumbus.com
*Former Veritas Tavern chefs Silas Caeton and Avishar Barua are Commissary regulars. Their February pop-up was inspired by the cuisines of Veracruz, Mexico, and Bangladesh.
Four Thieves Thirst Parlour
Think of a Four Thieves event as a month's worth of bar outings condensed into one boozy night. You'll be treated to seasonal cocktails and lavish small bites. fourthievesthirstparlour.com
Katalina's for Oddfellows
Oddfellows Liquor Bar
Ever hankered for booze with those pancake balls? Belly up at this kitschy Short North dive where Katalina's established an outpost last fall. oddfellowsliquorbar.com
*In addition to Katalina's favorites, you'll find OYO-spiked hot chocolate and Slut-Sauce-topped chorizo sliders.
Cafe Bourbon Street
You may have spotted the Pierogi Mountain name in the freezers at Weiland's Market. Scoot over to Cafe Bourbon Street for the ready-to-eat thing. facebook.com/PierogiMountain
* Tuesdays are dollar pierogi night, where you can score most of Matt Majesky's dumplings for $1 a pop.
Little Rock Bar and Scarlet and Grey Cafe
Paddy Wagon's permanent fixture inside this pair of jam bars is worth the trek for gussied-up $4.50 dogs from The Good Frank. paddywagon.weebly.com
Hey Hey Bar & Grill
Forget the white tablecloths and head to Hey Hey for no-frills Italian fare from Blu Olive. The food truck will be serving at the dusky Merion Village bar through fall. bluolivefoodtruck.com
*If pasta doesn't sound right with a beer, order the popular Bison Burger with a bag of OH! Chips.
Tikka Masala & Grill
Save for a tiny white sign by the door, you may never know Wycliff Nduati is serving authentic Kenyan fare out of this Northside spot. facebook.com/wycliffskitchen
Chefs like Randazzo and Matt Swint of Matija Breads often venture beyond the confines of their trucks. Watch for Sophie's Gourmet Pierogi, too, whose cart makes appearances at local breweries.
*Facebook is the best way to keep tabs on these chefs.