If nothing else, this year of swirling chaos (and ample takeout) is fertile ground for Seattle’s newest-gen popups. Granted, the definition of a popup is even more fluid than usual right now, as fine dining restaurants grill burgers and chefs pivot to meal kits or pantry staples. This list endeavors to honor popups in their classic sense—ascendant chefs hustling to get their food out into the world, absent of traditional trappings like “leases” and “daily business hours.” Okay, and one really rad pizza project by a few local luminaries. Some of these folks found their popup persona during the pandemic, others have been at it for a few years. All of them offer one hell of an uplifting glimpse into our dining future.
On Saturday and Sundays mornings, Opus Co. owner Mark Schroder turns his kitchen over to sous chefs Paolo Campbell and Cecily Kimura, and a menu that revels in the duo’s Filipino and Hawaiian backgrounds, as expressed via biscuits, waffles, scotch eggs, even breakfast pizza (okay, it’s focaccia with a baked egg nestled on top). On Sundays, Campbell and Kimura offer a $10, ride or die special, meaning you have no idea what you’re getting until you open the box, which seems a fitting way to dine in our current reality. Brunchbox’s been slinging adventurous baked goods (banana doughnuts, kimchi scones) and chicken biscuit sandwiches since late 2019, but the whole “your meal comes in a box” conceit now seems awfully prescient. Plus, every meal purchased begets a free lunch for someone who needs it. Find It: Every Saturday and Sunday from 10-12; order online right over here.
Every Monday, Sea Wolf bakers Kit and Jesse Schumann team up with chef Marie Rutherford (most recently of Wilmott’s Ghost and, like Kit, an alum of Whale Wins) to make a pizza that doesn’t come off as fancy (in Jesse Schumann’s words, “cheesy, a little greasy, crusty and durable”) even as it combines the talents of one of the town’s foremost bakers and an exceedingly talented chef. Kit Schumann devised the dough—100 percent sourdough with rye and whole grain-heavy flour from Cairnspring Mills. Rutherford collaborates on pizza toppings, like a white pie with lemon aioli, mint, snow peas, and spring onions, or a pineapple pizza that actually sounds delightful, thanks to jalapenos, red onion, and a chili dipping sauce. The trio behind this lunar-aligned pizza project are just two months in, and intentionally keeping things small. Find It: Every Monday in the Sea Wolf courtyard. The preorder link goes live on Thursdays, and the small amount of pies sell out fast. All sales from the first Monday of each month benefit a particular charity.
Brian (Cookie) Chandler spent years cooking on various commercial ships, a role that might find him flying into Dutch Harbor, Alaska, with 16 hours in which to purchase enough food to feed 20 hungry fishermen for the next 45 days. All of which to say, the hectic nature of a popup doesn’t faze him one bit. Chandler’s crispy golden pieces of bird surface at a monthly popup at White Center’s Good Day Doughnuts—the next one is August 2. Preorders open two weeks in advance on Tock for three-piece meals, massive family meals (doughnuts included), a Good Day collab sandwich made with a dill pickle fritter, and what Chandler calls “a big whopping pound of tendies” for anyone who prefers chicken strips (aka tenders, aka tendies). Find It: Monthly at Good Day Doughnuts, or Wednesday through Saturday at the new Cookie’s Country Chicken commissary counter inside Sneaky Tiki in Georgetown.
Ramen, pinch buns, even tacos express flavors from chefs Zach and Seth Pacleb’s upbringing with fantastic local produce and an artistic sensibility that’s apparent even in heftier fare like their koji fried chicken sandwiches. In 2017, bowls of ramen from the Paclebs’ farmers market booths offered the first clue, these are guys to watch. Safety restrictions prohibit hot food at farmers markets this year, so Brothers and Co. devised meal kits and ran a Friday popup at Fair Isle. After a summer break, they’ll be back at it August 24 with new at home menus and popup venues. Find It: Once Brothers and Co. firms up those new plans, look for specifics on Instagram and on the interwebs.
Cam Hanin’s pizzas, wrought with naturally fermented dough, built a considerable following this year, thanks to his way with artisan whole grain flour and a knack for unrepentant flavors—Hanin topped his pies with everything from vegan pesto to pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and drizzles of hot honey. When Covid struck, he threw himself into pay-what-you-can meals as part of the Seattle Community Kitchen collective, providing pay-what-you-can pies, then feeding Black Lives Matter protesters. Now Hanin’s pondering how to resume his regularly scheduled pizza popup in a manner that reflects his community commitments. Stay tuned to the GPK Instagram for updates. Find It: Soon, hopefully.
In 2019, chef Hyunji Kim and business partner Cameron Warren launched an elegant tasting menu popup that imbued Korean flavors with French technique and Northwest ingredients. Kim has cooked locally at places like Copine and Iconiq, and her multicourse dinners embraced a similar level of beauty on the plate; when Nine Tale adapted to delivery mode, she sought to carry that aesthetic intention forward, even in a world that involves takeout boxes, like a recent five-course dinner centered on kimchi and wagyu beef lasagne. Order one of the monthly-ish dinners, and the cost includes delivery straight to your door, a perk made possible by Warren's background in beverage distribution. Find It: Events happen at least once a month; track upcoming meals and order online at the Nine Tale website.
In the early days of coronavirus-induced shutdown, Jonathan Ragsdale (an alum of Trove, Rock Creek, and Heartwood Provisions) and Janet Becerra (her resume includes Miyabi 45th, Eden Hill, and a stint at Pujols in Mexico City) taught each other techniques from their respective culinary backgrounds. Fun food ensued. Their inaugural popup was supposed to happen in May, a few days after George Floyd’s death. The timing felt off, so the couple pivoted on their pivot, selling tamales to benefit Black Lives Matter. Those same tamales anchored the menu when Pancita did eventually debut at Opus Co. in July. Becerra developed the dough and filling, which might accompany a classic salsa verde or a taco filling made with Beyond Meat. Her day job working with fermented dough at Lupo Fremont pizzeria has also inspired talk of a taco pizza, made with masa dough; please universe, make this happen. Find It: Becerra and Ragsdale have lots of plans, but no firm date yet, so keep tabs on Pancita’s Instagram account.
Aaron Wilcenski and Nick Jarvis met working at Tom Douglas’s Brave Horse Tavern. Back then, their popup was more of a fine dining situation, but these days, Rough Draft has come full circle to the signature combo from its founders’ Brave Horse days: burgers and beer. On weekends, Rough Draft sets up shop at Fair Isle Brewing in Ballard and grills up slightly smashed burgers that achieve that crusty exterior without being overly flattened. Simplicity rules here, from the streamlined menu and foil wrapping to the classic garnish—American cheese, special sauce, onion, and a fat, crinkly pickle coin. The duo does the occasional popup-within-a-popup, like the current summer barbecue series at Ridgewood Bottle and Tap on Phinney. Find It: Saturdays and Sundays from 12–6 at Fair Isle Brewing; preorder on the Rough Draft website.
Michael Tsai and Matthew Curtis revel in the golden turnips, celtuce, green garlic, and other produce harvested from their tiny “farmette” near Carnation, destined to become elegant, ever-changing creations like grilled napa cabbage with green garlic, spiced garbanzo bean salad, or grilled broccoli and fresh shallots with Chinese celery and Sichuan peppercorns. While the menus—posted every other Sunday for the biweekly popup—definitely revel in vegetables, meat from small-scale local ranchers makes an appearance as well. This format means vegans and vegetarians can dine exceedingly well here. Curtis pairs each menu with wines from Three Sacks' two regular pickup spots, and a portion of each week’s proceeds go to various nonprofits around the region. Find It: Preorder for curbside pickup every other Wednesday at La Medusa in Columbia City, or every other Thursday at Ebb and Company in Bryant. (owner Stephanie Eburah supplies the popup's desserts and sourdough loaves).
By day, Garrett Fitzgerald works at Windy City Pie, Seattle’s deep dish haven. On Sundays, he slings his own pizza, 16-inch thin-crust pies topped with minimalist, locally grown excellence—pepperoni and roasted garlic or ricotta cream, black pepper, and lemon. Right now, Dantini sets up Sunday shop at Harry’s Fine Foods on Capitol Hill, dispensing 40 pre-ordered pizzas, plus a handful of slices for walkups. Find It: Orders open each Thursday at 7pm; check out the website for texting instructions. If pizzas are still available, Fitzgerald will call you back and offer you a few different pickup times.