The Austin food landscape has changed a lot over the past few months - with all of the new limitations and uncertainty in dining, restaurants have had to get creative. While many spots have shifted to special takeout menus, others have used this as an opportunity to launch pop-ups and collaborations. From smashburgers delivered via “burger chute,” to rotating pizza team-ups, we’ll be regularly keeping track of them here and telling you how to get them. Many of these sell out quickly, so be ready to drop everything and run like your lunch depends on it.
The Pop-Ups & Collaborations
Sandoitchi is a Japanese-style sandwich pop-up based out of Dallas, making a temporary residence in Austin. The menu here has just a few items, like katsu and egg salad sandwiches, supporting its showstopper - a $75 A5 Hokkaido wagyu katsu sandwich. They’ll be here in Austin until January 23, but you’ll have to be quick on your feet to snag a sandwich - their first week sold out in just seven minutes. Follow along on their Instagram for updates, or sign up to be notified by email when their next event goes live.
Le Beef Burger is a pop-up featuring burgers and natural wine, as well other dishes like fried chicken sandwiches and smoked chips and dip. So far they’ve done pop-ups at the restaurant Little Trouble in Lockhart and the gelato spot Gelateria Gemelli in East Austin. The next one is on January 19th at Justine’s Brasserie. Follow them on Instagram for more.
For fans of ramen, there’s Mr. Noodle San, a pop-up serving homemade noodles that’s operated at places like Cuantos Tacos and Aviary Wine & Kitchen. They’ve been doing fun and different ramen like an al pastor tonkotsu shoyu and a vegan mushroom tsukemen. Their plan is to open a brick and mortar in New Mexico in late 2021 - there’s even a GoFundMe - but for now you can get bowls of noodle soup in Austin. Follow them on Instagram for the latest.
Sushi | Bar Austin is an “omakase speakeasy” from a California chef operating out of Bento Picnic in East Austin. It’s 17 courses for $125 with very limited seating indoors (with six guests per seating). It’s running until the end of February and it’s currently totally sold out, but you can get on the waitlist.
Chef Teddy Simon is a private chef selling daily lunchboxes, sushi platters, and Indonesian food via Instagram. Different days of the week tend to feature a different meal, with recurring specials like “Tuna tataki Tuesday” or “salmon Sunday.” Orders tend to sell out fairly quickly, with all transactions taking place through Instagram DMs for the time being.
La Curry is a newish pop-up serving Indian-inspired curry burritos and bowls, as well as chai and lassi. Pick a protein, pick a curry (Jalfrezi-inspired spicy tomato, coconut, or creamy spinach), and pick a chutney. It’s all very Indian-meets-Tex-Mex in a fun and delightful way. Follow them on Instagram to find out when the next pop-up is happening.
Taco Fuego is a pop-up at the East Austin restaurant/bar The Cavalier with dishes retired by Taco Bell. Apparently there is enough nostalgia (stoner-fueled or otherwise) for things like a seven-layer burrito, cheesy potatoes, and a Mexican Pizza. Earlier this year when Taco Bell removed the “pizza” from the menu - really it’s just two crispy shells with seasoned beef and cheese - over 150,000 people signed a change.org petition. Keep an eye on their Instagram for the next one.
Man vs Fries is a pop-up operating in multiple cities - like San Francisco, Portland, Oakland, Seattle, and Houston - and now they’re coming to Austin. The menu has dishes like asada fries, a SoCal burrito (with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and french fries), enormous quesadillas, and deep-fried cheesecake. Three locations are opening in Austin for pickup and delivery - the first in South Austin opens Tuesday, December 5th. Check their website for more info.
The newish East Austin trailer Dough Boys make some very good wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, and they’ve been occasionally partnering with other spots including Discada, La Tunita, and their food trailer park neighbor Cuantos Tacos (pictured is the campechano pizza). These tend to sell out fast, so do follow along on their Instagram.
Bad Larry Burger Club describes itself as “never open” and “never closed” which is pretty accurate given the constantly-changing locations and the infrequent cadence. Sometimes you’ll find them set up in a neighborhood, delivering burgers via remote-controlled truck, and other times they’ll be set up from a second-story balcony dropping burgers through a socially-distanced “burger chute.” We can’t promise when you’ll get one, but we can tell you that if you do manage to snag a coveted spot, it’ll be one of the best burgers you’ve had all year. Typically, they’ll announce when presales go live a day or two in advance on their Instagram, so set a timer and be ready to quickly slide into some DM’s for a reservation. And don’t be late - the last one sold out in under 5 minutes.
Penang Shack describes itself as an “occasional Malaysian pop-up,” which is pretty apt. Full disclosure: it’s run by The Infatuation Austin staff writer Nicolai McCrary. The pop-up happens every month or so with menus in the past including nasi lemak and chicken satay. There’s also a very good curry laksa that comes meal kit-style, in which you need to cook the noodles separately. It’s one of the few places in Austin that you can actually get curry laksa - it’s on Peached Tortilla’s dine-in menu, and Kinda Tropical has run it as a special in the past. All proceeds go to different local causes, including the Austin Justice Coalition and the League Of Women Voters Austin. The next pop-up will be in mid-January. Follow on Instagram for the latest.
Distant Relatives is a pop-up “exploring the flavors, heritage and culture of the African diaspora through an African American’s modern lens.” It’s from a chef previously at Jester King, the now-shuttered Counter 3. FIVE. VII, and Uchiko. Previous pop-ups involved takeout-only food, and there was recently a dinner at Midnight In The Garden. Follow their Instagram for updates on the next one.
The Soul House describes itself as a “Harlem-styled Soul food pop up,” which means you’ll find dishes like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and honey-chipotle chicken biscuits. Dates and events get announced on their Instagram with the most recent event taking place in late November. They are expected to open up a roaming food truck in the upcoming weeks.
Austin blogger Jane Ko is teaming up with 101 By Teahaus in the Highland neighborhood for the Koko Pop-up. Inspired by Taiwanese night markets, the menu will include bubble tea and bubble waffles (with either fried chicken or matcha ice cream, not both). The pop-up will be continuing through mid-January with a special winter menu.
Taking over the former Eastside Cafe space on Manor, Le Cowboy is a semi-permanent pop-up, open for dinner on weekdays through the end of the January. Helmed by a former chef of Olamaie and Carpenters Hall, Le Cowboy’s menu features a small selection of pastas, like ricotta tortelloni with walnut pesto and orecchiette with sausage ragu, as well as a few smaller plates like a chicory salad. On Mondays they’re open takeout only, with orders placed on their website. Tuesday through Friday they’re open for dine-in on their BYO patio (with reservations).
Golden Castle is a new, White Castle-inspired burger pop-up from the folks behind Golden Tiger, known primarily for their excellent fried chicken sandwiches. Much like their inspiration, these small sliders are sold by the half-dozen and come with griddled onion, mustard, cheese, and pickles on a steamed potato roll. Recently they’ve been operating out of The Hoffbrau, but follow along on their Instagram for the latest information.
The team behind The Peached Tortilla is bringing a new White Castle/Krystal-inspired slider pop-up to Austin. In addition to sliders - dubbed as “fat stacks” - they also have chicken tenders, fries, and tots. And for dessert (or dinner, you do you) they have “fatties” - marshmallow or chocolate cream-filled spongecakes that sound an awful lot like gourmet Twinkies. You can see the full menu and updates on their next location on their website.
The food truck Paprika ATX opened up relatively quietly back in late 2019 and has been slinging great tacos and tortas ever since. Recently they’ve been hosting guest chefs for one-day popups. Follow them on Instagram so you don’t miss the next one.
On most Tuesdays, the East Austin Mexican restaurant Suerte has been hosting what they call a Taquero Takeover, in which they have a guest chef or restaurant come up with a special taco (with 50% of the taco sales going to a good cause). In the past they’ve had La Barbecue, Cuantos Tacos, and TLV. Keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest.
ChopChop is a new noodle cup pop-up/subscription service featuring mostly Japanese, Korean, and Thai-inspired flavors. The noodles are made fresh, then frozen - just add water and a bit of heat. It’s kind of like that cup of instant noodles sitting in your pantry, just a whole lot fresher. You can get 3, 6, or 12 at a time, or sign up for a monthly dropoff. Follow along on their Instagram to see what’s going on, or just order directly on their site.
Galleta is a virtual cookie shop taking place out of a private residence in West Austin. Cookies are sold by the dozen, with each box containing four different varieties - inspired by Mexican and Filipino flavors - that change weekly. The menu is announced at the beginning of each week on their Instagram - with flavors like hibiscus and pumpkin seed butter, or ube and coconut. Orders must be placed a few days in advance with payment through Venmo.
Comadre Panaderia is a newish online-only bakery pop-up with modern spins on pan-Latinx sweet and savory breads. Keep an eye on their Instagram account.
Abby Jane Bakeshop
Abby Janes Bakeshop is an upcoming bakery in Dripping Springs (located inside Barton Springs Mill). For now, they’re doing pop-ups on an occasional basis. Offerings change from week to week, but you can expect to see things like wood-fired pan pizzas and breakfast pastries. Follow along on their Instagram to find out about upcoming events.
We’re not really sure how to describe the concept of Nixta’s frequent collaborations other than just that - collaborations. Concepts change from week to week, with past mashups ranging from fire-roasted confit chicken wings with Thai al pastor sauce in collaboration with Dough Boys, to an East Side taco mashup with neighbors Discada and Cuantos. Collaborations happen a couple of times each month, usually only lasting a day or two. Follow along on their Instagram for the latest information. These tend to sell out fast.
Pinthouse kicked off a new series of “Off The Map” pizzas in June, featuring their tasty pizza bases with toppings in collaboration with restaurants all across town. Past features include a brisket pie with Slab BBQ and a Greek gyro-inspired pie with Phoenicia Bakery. Collaborations change out each month, so keep an eye on their Instagram for each month’s “Off The Map” pizza.