Pop-Up Food Folks You Should Follow for Impromptu Dining

Locals offer pop-up options for outdoor dining

Le Beef

2021 wasn’t the worst year, but it damn sure wasn’t the best. However, last year did allow for a true emergence of a bar and restaurant pop-up scene in Austin, the pandemic being somewhat conducive to these impromptu, primarily outdoor, temporary happenings.

There are nine restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, provocateurs, party-throwers if you will, that you want to be aware of. This listicle is nowhere near exhaustive, but it is stacked with some creative individuals doing cool shit. Be sure to follow their respective IGs (linked below) for up-to-date times, dates, and the like.

Le Beef

Justin Huffman, chef at Eastside French spot Justine’s, has a side gig with a burger and natural wine pop up. Killer. Burger. Special sauce, cheese, grass-fed beef, pickles, onions, housed in a well-toasted Martin’s Bun. Very simple, yet refined, and (more often than not) accompanied by a well-curated selection of natural wines. Three’s a chicken sando of some sort (usually), but at the last pop-up at Austin Beerworks, Le Beef was serving a Thai BBQ smoked chicken, which sold out super quick along with their burgers. Get in line, haha.

Rick's

Rick’s

Meatball parm and roast pork hoagies, baked ziti, muffalettas, and square slices, Rick’s brings the blue-collar Italian heat. Always a party, always fun, no matter the venue. Matt and Alix Chapman-Pitre, the Rick’s power couple, are making moves to the frigid Midwest and will be holding their last shindig in ATX very soon in February. It might be a collaboration with Zee’s Weiner System, it might not, but it’ll probably have some kick-ass food and a slew of good bevs.

Zee’s Weiner System

A love letter to “the System,” the Rhode Island-style hotdogs Zee grew up with. A hot griddled weiner and bun, meat sauce, yellow mustard, raw white onions, and celery salt. Sounds kind of crazy, but it’s legit. Zee’s Weiner System did a residency at Fairweather Cider through December, and you can still catch the Weiner King of Central Texas there on Wednesdays slanging his wares around 5 pm. There was cheese sauce at the last one and I’ve heard a rumor of a Mapo sauce in the works.

Che Cazzo

Che Cazzo

In 2021 they pulled off a seven-course dinner on Rainey Street, multiple stints at Kitty Cohen’s, and a collaboration at The Electric Church with Kubrix Cinema, to name a few of their forays. This group is versatile, and the food is always on point. They do low-brow and high-brow, and it appears everything in-between. Very popular, with a loyal following. You definitely want to follow their IG. Tortellini shooters anyone?

Daijoubu Pop Up

They showcase the varied and often unexplored flavors of Asia through cocktails and a keen social awareness. Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung are two incredibly talented, creative bartenders who have taken all that knowledge, skill, and passion and have given us, arguably, the most exciting floating ticket for cocktails in Austin. Really not to be missed when they throw a party. I had a “Tom Craw” shot last May as they took over Wiki’s Walk-Up. A sweet corn–infused shot of Union Mezcal, paired with a hot Mama Yeung’s crawfish tom yum bisque. You were instructed to sip a little of the shot then some of the bisque. Transcendent.

Que Sazon

Que Sazon

Salsa my friends, the salsa is always key, and Que Sazon’s salsa is some of the best in town. Through the rest of the month you’ll find them at Wingman Kitchens 11am-3pm inside Springdale General Monday-Thursday, and every Sunday at Texas Farmers Market at Mueller. Burritos, chilaquiles, tacos, tortas, and good vibes, proprietor Alejandro Macias always comes with it.

Small’s Pizza

A former pizzalero of Bufalina has taken his show on the road. He did a residency at LoLo Wine last November, serving handmade pies like the “Mashed Potato” (mozzarella, Yukon Gold potatoes, fontal, rosemary, roasted onion) and a “Cossura” (tomato, capers, oregano, garlic, slow roasted onions, pecorino). The pies are fire.

Penang Shack

Their last scheduled pop-up Ani's Day and Night in late December was postponed, which was a bummer. Where else are you going to find curry laksa, nasi lemak, or a roti taquito in Austin? Penang Shack keeps the Southeast Asian flavors on deck, primarily Malaysian in influence and style. To say that Penang Shack is one of a kind is not hyperbole. Hopefully they’ll be popping up soon during these colder months.

Bad Larry’s Burger Club

Maybe not as exclusive as it once was after his six-weekish stent through December and the first half of January Little Brother Bar, Matthew Bolick’s smash burger is still no less sought after. Whether the IG account is more troll than not, it really doesn’t matter, the burger speaks for itself. Bad Larry has gone through many iterations of burgers as of late, and don’t look for them to slow down in 2022. (But they’re probably taking a hiatus after mid-January as announced on their IG.)

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