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SF

Guide

The Bay Area Pop-Up Hit List

14 pop-ups we checked out - and loved.

14 Spots
Launch Map
14 Spots
Launch Map
Updated May 10th, 2021

The Bay Area pop-up scene is, in our humble opinion, the most exciting in the country - and over the last year, it’s only gotten bigger. That’s why we’re introducing this guide to the best new (ish) pop-ups in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of every pop-up that should be on your radar (and there are many), one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include spots that we’ve checked out.

We’ll update the hit list as we try more pop-ups - but if you know of one that you think we should check out, drop us a line. Also keep in mind that a pop-up’s location, hours, and menu can change often, so while we’ll do our damnedest to keep this information current, double check for updates on Instagram or online before heading out. Without further ado, here are our 14 favorite pop-ups right now.

THE POP-UPS

Julia Chen

“Much like the pancetta from Trader Joe’s or Jazmine Sullivan’s impeccable Tiny Desk Concert, this pie pop-up is extremely good at making my day. The pies change seasonally, but you can usually expect to see my absolute favorite on the menu: the passionfruit bay leaf meringue pie. It’s a masterpiece of a dessert, made with tangy passionfruit curd that’s balanced out with a sweet bay leaf cream, and a light, airy toasted swiss meringue swirled beautifully on top - all on a perfect graham cracker crust. My move is usually to order a few of the five-inch “sweetie” pies, which is a great way to try different flavors (like key lime pie or strawberry rhubarb streusel) without committing to the larger nine-inch size. Order here for pick up in SF or the East Bay.” - Julia Chen, SF Staff Writer

Lani Conway

Pyro's Pastrami

$$$$ 101 Broadway

“When’s the last time you had a great sandwich? And not just any ol’ great sandwich, but a decadent, super meaty one. Been awhile? Go to Pyro Pastrami. The new Oakland pop-up specializes in thick pastrami sandwiches and emphasizes high-quality ingredients, from Cream Co. Meats beef to spices from Oaktown Spice Shop. And the results are a meat eater’s paradise - high stacks of hot, thinly-sliced smoked pastrami accompanied by a warm, griddled rye bun, and melted gruyere, house-made mustard, or other toppings. You’ll have several traditional and non-traditional pastrami sandwiches to choose from (and a vegan one too), but focus on the Pyro Original with an herb-y red cabbage coleslaw or the Reuben, a 4-, 8-, or 12-ounce dream (roughly 14 magnificent meat layers) balanced out with a tangy sauerkraut. Next pop-up dates are posted to their website, and if you want to be a cool kid, give them a follow here.” - Lani Conway, Senior Editor

Julia Chen

“If there was a MasterClass on how to make the perfect cookie, Frolic & Detour would teach it. They make eight different types of cookies, from fantastic chocolate espresso passionfruit to star anise snickerdoodle, and they’re all delightfully chewy on the inside and crispy outside. But my favorite is the birthday cake, a thicker, softer cookie that’s rolled in rainbow sprinkles and tastes like my animal-themed birthday party at Fentons circa 2004: a damn celebration. Frolic & Detour does monthly pop-ups at Garden Creamery and Deli Board, but if you want to get your hands on the cookies now, place an order online to get a box of 12 for next-day pick-up at Saint Frank Coffee or Fig & Thistle.” - JC

Julia Chen

Okkon

$$$$
$$$$ 2311A Magnolia St

“Okkon specializes in okonomiyaki, and operates out of the O2 Artisans Aggregate in West Oakland, a spacious courtyard that’s also home to other excellent food businesses and restaurants, like Magnolia Mini Mart, June’s Pizza, and Soba Ichi. After watching the thick okonomiyaki batter sizzling on the grill on my first visit, I immediately set a weekly reminder to stop by every Saturday for this savory made-to-order pancake. They’re oblong and topped with a crispy layer of melty pork belly, sweet okonomiyaki sauce, a drizzle of mayo, and bonito flakes - plus optional add-ons like mochi, spicy cod roe, or mozzarella for $2-$3 extra. Paired with a side of their crispy chicken and pork gyoza, it makes for an ideal weekend lunch. The grill is usually set up in front of Soba Ichi on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-3pm.” - JC

Julia Chen

LoJo's Taco Shop

$$$$
$$$$ 235 Cortland Ave

“LoJo’s breakfast tacos make a very convincing case for why we should all aspire to be morning people. I’d easily sacrifice a full night’s sleep to wake up early for one of their bacon tacos made on a thick, chewy flour tortilla and filled with fluffy eggs, scallion and lime crema, pickled jalapeños, and house-made salsa. The pop-up operates out of Avedano’s Meats in Bernal Heights, which is also where they stock up on proteins, like maple-glazed bacon, chorizo, and steak. They’re currently taking a break from the SF location for the month of May while they have events in Oakland, and will be back in June.” - JC

Julia Chen

Poppy Bagels

$$$$
$$$$ 746 Grand Ave

“If you’ve read this site at any point over the past year (and I hope you have), you probably know that my love for Poppy Bagels is boundless, and ordering myself a dozen of their hand-rolled New York-style bagels is my self-care routine of choice. They set the bar pretty damn high for all other bagels - theirs are perfectly chewy, with a shiny, crackly crust and copious amounts of seasoning all over. And I’d order their jalapeño and serrano cream cheese by the gallon if I could - it’s got a slight kick that’s cut through nicely by the thick spread, and goes great with honey. Orders open up online on Mondays at 9am for pick up or delivery in Oakland or SF. Or you can keep an eye out for their pop-ups at places like Roses’ Taproom in Temescal, or stop by their bagel sandwich stall at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.” - JC

Erin Ng

Intu-on

$$$$
$$$$ 458 Grove St

“A Kin Khao and Night + Market alum is making incredible Isaan Thai dishes at this Hayes Valley pop-up. From crispy curry rice salad to sticky-sweet caramelized pork jowl, every dish I’ve ever had here is a funky, spicy flavor bomb, bursting with texture and heat. If it’s on the menu, order the shrimp toast, a thick slab of milk bread topped with shrimp mousse, spicy mayo, and tangy pickled chiles - every bite will elicit a sweet sigh of delight and/or a little happy dance from everyone sitting at your table. They’re operating out of Birba Wine Bar on Sundays from 1-8pm - you can walk up or pre-order here to order for dine-in or takeout.” - JC

Julia Chen

Michoz

$$$$ 1250 Addison St Suite 111

“Last year, two of the chefs behind Broke Ass Cooks launched Michoz, a pop-up that draws on the chefs’ Peruvian and Eritrean backgrounds. They used to offer a pollo a la brasa meal with perfectly-grilled, tender chicken I could pull apart with my fork, and sides of fried yucca sticks, aji amarillo sauce, and a crunchy onion and pepper salad. I’ve been hard-pressed to find better chicken since. And if it was any indication of the magical things this duo is doing with their dishes, I have high hopes for their new tray of chicken stew, red lentils, stewed collard greens, and injera. Every weekend, you can pick up food at The Hidden Cafe in Berkeley, or order for delivery if you live in the East Bay. Pre-orders typically start a week in advance, and are usually announced on Instagram.” - JC

Julia Chen

Unco Frank's

$$$$ 256 Columbus Ave

“Say the words ‘macaroni salad’ to me and I will [REDACTED] in order to get some. Luckily, Unco Frank’s exists, and makes a fantastic version. Their menu changes, but if you see the plate lunch with salt and pepper karaage, kalua pork, and their excellent macaroni salad, order it immediately. It’s a behemoth, filled with all sorts of crunchy, creamy textures in every bite. The menu might also include things like loaded furikake fries topped with kalua pork, kimchi, garlic butter, and lemon aioli, or a fish sandwich with panko-crusted mahi-mahi. Unco Frank’s is at The Devil’s Acre’s parklet from Thursday to Sunday, or at Pagan Idol from Tuesday to Saturday.” - JC

Julia Chen

“The creamy, Japanese-inspired Basque cheesecakes from Basuku Cheesecakes have been known to sell out in under a minute, so if you want to get your hands on one you’ll need lightning-fast reflexes - and probably a dose of luck. When I ordered mine, my reflexes came through (for once), and I’m glad they did - because the thick, creamy, cheesecake was something special. It’s super rich, with a sweet, caramel-y exterior and a jiggly inside that melted in my mouth. 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.” - JC

Julia Chen

Edith's Pie

$$$$ 272 14th St

“This pie-focused pop-up has a weekly-changing menu of things like earl grey crème brûlée, pomegranate meringue, and chocolate chess pies, all available for pickup at The Alice Collective in Downtown Oakland on Saturdays. What goes in the fillings depends on what’s available locally and in season, and the freshness of the ingredients really shines. Case in point: the Cara Cara orange Shaker pie with a perfect buttery, flaky crust, thinly-sliced pieces of bright, tangy orange and a hint of earl grey. Orders open on Tuesdays at 10am online, and keep an eye on their Instagram for weekly menu drops.” - JC

Mona Leena Michael

The Mana'eesh Lady

$$$$ 3332 Grand Ave

“Whenever I’ve stared at my computer for what feels like 38 hours straight, I sometimes think about the flatbreads from The Mana’eesh Lady - which unfailingly perks me up while giving me something delicious to look forward to on weekends. They operate out of The Libertine on Grand Ave every Saturday, and feature thick, chewy za’atar-covered flatbreads topped with things like goat cheese, squash blossoms, and more. They also have great dips, desserts, and falafel nachos. And if the labneh or jalapeño-garlic tahini are on the menu, order some immediately. Check their Instagram for hours and updates.” - JC

Julia Chen

“Opening the box that held my cinnamon roll from Astranda Bakery, my jaw practically dislocated from its socket. It was a sight to behold. I marveled at the fluffy dough and its layers of brown sugar cinnamon paste and sticky coffee-caramel sauce. And the smooth coffee-flavored frosting that dripped down its sides deserves its own exhibition at SFMoMA. Simply put, their cinnamon rolls are done flawlessly. You can usually find them at coffee shops around SF or at Magnolia Mini Mart in Oakland - but owner Eric Chow is currently on paternity leave until May, so keep an eye on Astranda’s Instagram for news of their return.” - JC

Smish Smash

Smish Smash Burgers

$$$$
Burgers  in  Alameda
$$$$ 630 Central Ave

“Smashburgers have become increasingly popular in the Bay Area over the last year, and we have Smish Smash to thank for that. The pop-up operating out of Neptune’s in Alameda sparked a social media fervor thanks to their inventive iteration of the burgers with crispy, lacy patties, and toppings like uni, grilled pineapple, or well-flattened and crisped bacon patties. Their unique specials rotate, so check Instagram for the menu. And note that they’re only taking same-day pre-orders.” - JC

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