The Seattle pop-up scene has been vibrant for years, but it proliferated during the pandemic as cooks from some of the city’s best restaurants were laid off, or quit their jobs, and started their own roving operations. Bars around the Seattle area accommodate pop-ups, but the scene’s epicenter is at Ballard breweries like Fair Isle Brewing and Great Notion Brewing, which both host multiple pop-ups every week. Seattle chefs use pop-ups to try out daring ideas they might not risk if they were paying rent for a restaurant space; eating at them offers an early glimpse into what the city’s dining scene might look like in the future.
Here are 20 of the most exciting pop-ups in the Seattle area, listed alphabetically, with sections for longer-term residencies and roving operations.
We’ll update this as more arise, but please let us know if there’s a spot that should be on this list by sending us a tip.
This pop-up is dedicated to Latinx-Caribbean soul food, with a menu boasting mojo pork, pollo frito sandwiches, and mac and cheese with chicharron crum, as well as hearty sides of red guisado beans and rice. Diners can find Lenox Future Primitive Brewing in White Center, with updates posted on Lenox’s Instagram.
After popping up around town for over two years, Garzón settles in at Black Cat Bar in Belltown, with Latin American-inspired street food including carne asada fried rice, pork soba noodle saltado and a range of grilled and fried snacks. Owners Jose Garzón and Stephanie Heiber continue to run Ekeko, a drinking snacks pop-up, and Lola’s Supper Club, a monthly dinner series paying homage to Garzón’s food stories and memories. Updates can be found on Garzón’s Instagram.
Musician Lupe Flores (drummer for the bands Wild Powwers, Tacos the Band, and LORBO) has drawn long lines for her Lebanese-Mexican taco pop-up, praised for its delicately fried tortillas. Now, she’s found a more permanent home at popular Belltown bar Jupiter. The tacos come in varieties such as Lebanese brown butter beef, creamy garlic potatoes, and spicy cauliflower, with sides that include comforting soups. Updates can be found on Situ Taco’s Instagram.
Ba Ba Lio
Mandarin for 8-8-6, the international calling code to Taiwan, Ba Ba Lio is Chef Tiffany Ran’s take on under-represented Taiwanese dishes, telling the stories that influence the cuisine while incorporating seasonal ingredients available at farmers’ markets that week. The menu rotates often, with some recent offerings being a chilled cucumber and fiddlehead salad dressed with a ramp vinaigrette, and short rib stewed with tomatoes and spicy doubanjiang bean-chili paste served over tomato rice. Ba Ba Lio pops up every other Wednesday at Fair Isle Brewing in Ballard, and you can visit its Instagram for the upcoming schedule.
Karen Sandoval bakes conchas, mantecadas (muffins), empanadas and other pan dulce inspired by her childhood as a first-generation Mexican-American in Seattle. Bakescapade innovates with creative flavors and combinations like a Lucky Charms cereal concha, apple pie conchas, and a strawberry and rhubarb empanada with chia seeds. Bakescapade pops up monthly at All City Coffee in Georgetown and The Rose Coffeehouse in Renton. Follow along its Instagram for new dates, venues, and pre-orders.
Geoffrey Redd, a sous chef at Rider, pivoted to running a hot dog pop-up during the pandemic. Bigfoot Longs’ signature hotdog is “Seattle Sasquatch,” with a home-baked footlong brioche bun, sausage from Olympia Provisions, farmers cheese, onion jam, and a jalapeno relish. Other options include inventively named dishes like “Friendship Franks” — footlong pull-apart rolls with grilled spam and mango chutney, and a vegetarian Italian chili-cheese with Beyond Meat bolognese, detailed on menus that Redd illustrates himself. Creative desserts like a grilled cheesecake footlong and pints of rotating ice cream flavors make regular sightings. Updates can be found on Instagram.
Darling & Co Bagels
When a bagel-exploration trip to Brooklyn was cancelled due to COVID-19, Christina Darling challenged herself to recreate NYC-style bagels at home. After months of perfecting her rolling and boiling technique, Darling & Co. Bagels was born. In addition to chewy New York-style bagels and a rotating variety of shmears like honey-pecan and French onion, Darling & Co. offers sandwiches like cucumber on everything bagel with garlic and scallion cream cheese, and a strawberries and cream sandwich on a plain bagel. While there’s no dearth of bagel shops in Seattle, there’s definitely no shortage of bagel fans. Darling regularly sells out of its bagels and bagel sandwiches, so pre-orders on their website are recommended. You can also visit its Instagram for the upcoming pop-up schedule.
Street food purveyor Garzón recently launched Ekéko, serving what chef Jose Garzón calls “drinking snacks” from all over Latin America. Items include aji-tossed French fries and birria-style beef and cheese with salsa criolla on corn tortillas. Ekéko pops up at The Growler Guys in Lake City; the calendar is available on Garzón’s website.
Good Morning Tacos
Good Morning is one of the newest entrants to the pop-up scenes, and is already building a following for their Austin-style breakfast tacos. Chef Kinga, who previously worked in corporate catering, brings quality ingredients and her unique twist to the simple flavors of a breakfast taco. Current offerings include Bacon-Egg-Cheese, huevos rancheros with chorizo, and smoky poblano with scrambled eggs and cotija cheese, all wrapped in warm flour tortillas. Follow them on Instagram to track which farmers’ markets and breweries they’ll be popping up at this summer.
Chef Berk Güldal grew up in Istanbul and met his partner, Katrina Schult, while working as the sous chef of SingleThread Far, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in California. They moved to Seattle last year and have been serving traditional Turkish dishes like succulent medium-rare lamb kebabs wrapped in lavash and kokoreç (lamb sweetbreads and intestine) sandwiches. One the last Sunday of every month, Güldal roasts whole lambs over applewood. Check Hamdi’s Instagram for updated pop-up times and location.
Owner Kryse Panis Martin has found a great deal of demand for her excellent pints of ice cream, which come in fun flavors such as Wu Tang Forever (French vanilla with butter pecan and chocolate) and marshmallow pandan. Pick up is usually at Beacon Hill coffee shop The Station and preorders go quickly, but new flavors are added regularly. Updates are posted on Kryse’s Instagram.
Virginia Rachel Ranti’s pop-up delivers decadent seafood feasts with Southeast Asian flavors, like whole Dungeness crabs with Singapore-style black pepper and chili sauces and elaborate seafood boils. Ranti was born in Jakarta but grew up in Singapore, where she absorbed the cuisine of hawker centers — dishes like laksa (spicy curry noodle soup) and Hainanese chicken rice — which she occasionally serves through her pop-up. Preordering is required via Marimakan’s Instagram DMs or by texting (206) 228-8466.
Ohsun Banchan & Deli
Cookbook author, blogger and cooking-class teacher Sara Upshaw serves an assortment of banchan at Ohsun Banchan. Best described as Korean small bites that accompany a main dish of grilled meat, stew, or rice, Ohsun’s comfort food includes a rotating variety of fermented, braised, and stir-fried dishes made with classic and seasonal vegetables. A recent pop-up featured oi muchim (cucumber salad), roasted broccoli with gochujang sauce, and a spicy potato jjigae (Korean stew). All of Ohsun’s dishes are gluten-free and at least half of them are vegan. Ohsun recently completed a successful kickstarter campaign and is actively looking for a permanent spot to open Seattle’s first banchan-focused deli and pantry. Updates can be found on Ohsun Banchan’s Instagram.
Janet Becerra, who’s worked at Miyabi 45, Eden Hill and staged at Pujol in Mexico City, shares regional and seasonal Mexican food at her pop-up Pancita. Nixtamalizing corn to make her own masa, Becerra highlights the versatility of masa beyond just tortillas, with tetelas, tlacoyos, empanadas and tostadas. A recent tostada pop-up featured toppings like a spicy halibut ceviche, charcoal grilled carne asada with guacamole, and refried beans with a cloud of cheddar. Pancita also experiments with creative takes on agua frescas, like a pastel green horchata made from pistachios and pandan. Find Pancita every Sunday at Lottie’s Lounge. Updates can be found on Pancita’s Instagram.
Mississippi native Jamie Hill used to bake desserts for Chachi’s pizza pop-up, but now runs his own Southern-inspired baked goods pop-up called Pastry Boy. Hill’s southern charm, and boatloads of butter, make an appearance in a range of offerings like gooey chocolate brownies, a bourbon-pecan shortbread, and s’mores cookies. In addition to sweets, Pastry Boy features savory baked goods like sweet heat scones made with Mama Lil’s peppers, and crunchy cheese straws, a Mississippi staple that conveniently pairs really well with the beer at the breweries he pops up in. Updates can be found on Pastry Boy’s Instagram.
Selva Central Goods
This pastry pop-up is all about Central American pan dulces inspired by the roots of baker and owner Mayra Sibrian. The menu includes Salvadoran pound cake, plantain muffins, and semitas with guava and hibiscus-chia jam filling. Find Sibrian’s confections at the Columbia City Farmers Market and at Resistencia Coffee, Rey Amargo, and Grumpy Bean. Updates can be found on Selva Central Goods’ Instagram.
For this growing pop-up, Seattle native Alex Dorros cooks up Peruvian dishes influenced by his travels around South America, with help from his mom. The menu rotates often, but past meals have included ceviche, seafood stews, braised vegetables with Peruvian herbs, pepper-based sauces like aji amarillo, and plantain chips. Most recently, it has popped up at Fast Penny Spirits in North Queen Anne. Updates can be found on Siembra’s Instagram.
Ryan Swanson, an alum of Barnacle, The Whale Wins, and Delancey, began experimenting with pizza dough in his backyard, and now pops up at Letterpress Distilling in SoDo and Fair Isle Brewing in Ballard regularly, slinging a short but inventive list of pizzas out of his two Ooni ovens. One of Swannie’s more recent items was “green pie” with arugula, potato and garlic with aged mozzarella on a chewy and charred Neapolitan-ish crust. Swanson occasionally brings in house-made sodas and desserts like caramel chocolate chip cookies with sea salt. Follow its Instagram for upcoming menus and locations.
Three Sacks Full
Taiwan-raised chef Michael Tsai has paired up with wine guy Matthew Curtis to highlight regional, seasonal produce (much of it grown by the duo on a half-acre plot at Goose and Gander Farm in Carnation, Washington), alongside wine produced by small wineries. Main courses focus on grains and vegetables, while meat and seafood take a back seat. The pop-ups are every other week, with Tuesdays at Ebb & Co. in Ravenna and Wednesdays at Persephone in Columbia City. Updates can be found on its Instagram.
Bartender Dominick Minichiello couldn’t find Buffalo chicken wings like the ones he grew up with in Western New York, so he decided to do something about it. His single-item menu features wings that are cooked until they are perfectly crunchy, tossed in a tangy and spicy house-made Buffalo sauce, and served with a chunky bleu cheese dip. While garlic-parmesan wings are also an option, ranch dip isn’t — Minichiello has a strong opinion on ranch not belonging on his menu. Vindicktive Wings pops up on weekends at Bad Bar in Queen Anne and Rose Temple Bar on Capitol Hill. Updates can be found on the pop-up’s Instagram.