Pop-ups have long been a part of the Bay Area dining landscape. But in the last few years, the scene has grown exponentially, showing off all the culinary talent that exists outside four-walled restaurants. Home cooks and chefs of all levels are inserting creativity into their endeavors and showcasing a diverse selection of cuisines that aren’t as common as they should be.
Here, we’re sharing some of the more exciting pop-ups we come across and showcasing them all in one place. The list includes Colombian fusion and food inspired by late-night shifts — and all in-the-know diners should have these pop-ups on their radars. Check back for updates as we add more spots into the mix.
Know about an upcoming pop-up that should be on this list? Email us at email@example.com.
Petite Percebes is a new pop-up from chefs Lucas Dai Pra and Natallie Avitia. Dai Pra hails from the kitchens of Atelier Crenn, Saison, and Manzke; Avitia has previously worked at Whisk and Ladle and Pasjoli. Both chefs also worked at Harbor House Inn, and with this new pop-up, diners will get a taste of the duo’s sprawling food tastes and sensibilities. A recent appearance at Oakland’s Snail Bar, for instance, included a six-course tasting menu featuring seared scallops with kohrabi puree, cauliflower beurre blanc, caviar, and chive oil, plus a squab pithivier. Other nights are more casual, such as a recent pop-up at the Crafty Fox in the Mission, which featured an array of skewers, including a fried chicken thigh with yuzu aioli; chicken meatballs and yuzu kosho; and maitake mushrooms in peanut miso. An upcoming pop-up at the Waiting Room in Mendocino will feature hot sandwiches such as a roasted mojo verde pork option. There’s something for everyone, depending on the pop-up, and Petite Percebes is one worth keeping an eye out for.
New pop-up Pacifico gives nods to chef Daniel Morales Vallejo’s background in Colombian cuisine, but also fuses it with ingredients and techniques he’s picked up while working at San Francisco restaurants including La Mar. Morales Vallejo serves dishes such as pork belly ceviche, made with the additions of green papaya, basil, and fish sauce. Grilled octopus, meanwhile, is served with fingerling potatoes, guayaba, and Peruvian-style corn. It’s a new take on Colombian food that’s all Morales Vallejo’s viewpoint but through the lens of Northern California ingredients and culture.
If you were devastated by the closure of Oakland restaurant Palmetto, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the pop-up Chisme. Manuel Enrique Bonilla, Palmetto’s former executive chef, is making “food inspired by late shifts, dive bars, and cheap beer and shot combos” under the Chisme banner. A recent pop-up at Friends and Family featured fare such as chile Colorado “Frito” pie done up with burnt scallion crema, cilantro, radishes, and queso fresco, plus a tuna crudo tostada with escabeche aioli. Bonilla will soon turn up at the Institute of Contemporary Arts pop-up series — along with Petite Percebes, who makes an appearance on a different date — sharing his style of food outside of the Palmetto kitchen.