The last few years have seen an explosion in the popularity of pop-ups. They are all the rage now, with food to clothing brands all trying their hand at them, and usually to great success. We, as the consumer, seem to love the concept and can’t get enough of the itinerant, nomadic perception of these travelling restaurants. Nowadays, the mention of a chef setting up shop, either at an event or independently drives in crowds, and the result has become a booming landscape. But as with any eruption in popularity, it can become difficult to differentiate and in the case of pop-ups actually finding ones that are truly unique, rather than piggybacking previous trends, is a hard task. So to help navigate your way through this undulating craze, we have put together a comprehensive list of the most unique food pop-ups that you should make every effort to visit. From street food, to full six course meals, we have covered all the best kept secrets in the world of the humble pop-up.
For those of you searching for a sweet treat, then Urban Cheesecake based in Herbert’s Yard, Birmingham is for you. Serving out of an old, converted horsebox, their cheesecakes are indulgent and jam-packed with sauces, ganache’s and toppings, and the team at Urban Cheesecake have managed to create the most gourmet cheesecakes imaginable. As mentioned, they are located at Herbert’s Yard which is a street food venue in itself, so a trip to Urban Cheesecake makes for an ideal way to top off an exploration of the yard.
Happy Endings at the Hatch:
Who know that ice cream pop-ups were a thing? Neither did we, until stumbling across Happy Endings at the Hatch. The collaboration between Goddard & Gibbs and Happy Endings has resulted in a literal hatch serving sundaes and ice creams at the Shoreditch location. Open until late October 2022, make sure to stop in to get your hands on one of the Nut Sundae’s which is quite the cocktail. Made up from Vanilla Soft Serve, Original Beans chocolate sauce and soy caramel sauce, you’ll be sure to head back for seconds.
Dram and Smoke:
Now as food pop-ups go this is as special as they come. Driven forward by Scottish chefs Nick Fulton and Paul Ross, Dram and Smoke is a travelling food and drink pop-up that celebrates the brilliant Scottish produce. Creating a seasonal multiple course menu for each unique location, the food is exceptional, and you can expect dishes like Potted Duck with a Tattie Scone and Marmalade. Alongside the food, you can rest assured that the drinks are of the same standard, with brilliant cocktails as well as a well-stocked bar. To top it off, each pop-up is in a stunning location, which only reinforces the special combination Dram and Smoke have unlocked when it comes to the concept of the food pop-up. Make sure to book your tickets to their next event!
The BBQ Club:
Whilst the BBQ Club just closed its doors to this summer’s business, fear not as it will be back again, and trust us, you do not want to miss it, wherever it remerges next! Based over two storeys’ at the Southbank Centre this summer, this was the place to experience expertly crafted flame grilled food. The concept is simple, each table has its own each table-top Big Green Egg barbecue, and you as the guest cook your own six course tasting menu, under the guidance and preparation of the BBQ Club’s chefs. You can expect to have dishes such as ‘The Bagel’: Maple wood hot smoked trout, trout and burnt lemon tartare, pea and mint mousse, dill crème fraiche and coastal herbs. It will undoubtedly show you the endless possibilities of what is possible on the humble BBQ!
One of the most common food pop-ups you are likely to see is some form of Indian street food and there is undoubtedly a consensus that it reigns supreme as one of the favourite forms of pop-up cuisine. However, with so much competition, it can be a hard task uncovering the best. For us, we uncovered this upcoming gem relatively recently and all we have to say is Chilli Kitchen is our favourite Indian street food stall we have come across. Serving a range of family recipes that originate from south India, the team at Chilli Kitchen craft truly original dishes, bursting with flavour. Their success has snowballed in the last couple of years, resulting in pitches at Download festival and Glastonbury. Make sure to catch them at a festival near you!
The Jimmy Choo pop-up that has taken over a part of the shoe department in Harrods this year is a slightly different spin on the concept of pop-up and proves how great the scope is for them. With standout pink interiors and branded crockery and cutlery, every last detail is ensured. With a traditional café inspired menu, that includes patisserie options such as chocolate & salted caramel eclairs, alongside mozzarella & prosciutto open-faced ‘choux crostini’, the Choo Café provides a tranquil, yet lavish escape from the frantic store floor of the famous Harrods. You’ll have to be quick though if you want to visit however, as the pop-up only runs until the 30th September.
Ah Ma’s Dumplings:
Bristol based Ah Ma’s Dumplings is the place to seek out for getting a fix of Cantonese cuisine. Opening pop-ups across different markets throughout the Bristol area, you will have to ensure you pre-plan a visit to Ah Ma’s to ensure you get the right location, although all markets and events are listed on their website. Once you’ve managed to track down the nomadic food stall, you will uncover a truly authentic Cantonese dining experience, with only the freshest ingredients used, and each dish made with passion. You can anticipate dishes such as ginger infused prawn, scallop and leek dumplings, which will certainly have everyone blown away by the bold, rich flavours.
The Harewood Food & Drink Project:
Currently the Harewood Food and Drink Project is one of the most innovative dining experiences in the UK. Hosting unique pop-up events at various venues across the country, the food served at these events is special. With menus curated from ingredients entirely sourced from the Harewood estate, found just north of Leeds, the whole concept is to re-define fine dining, and place it within a pop-up environment. To give you a flavour of the kind of dishes that the project serves, previous pop-ups have included items such as Red Deer, Cabbage, Blueberry, Rice and Pine, and in the usual fashion of fine dining, an oversimplified dish title does not reflect the immense flavour and complexity that each individual dish will contain. Attending a Harewood event will be the complete experience, so do not wait a minute longer to get your tickets for the next!
Strip Club Streetfood:
No pop-up guide would be complete with at least one burger recommendation. Without doubt, Strip Club Streetfood has been making waves within the industry too having found themselves second placed in the National Burger Awards, even though there are still in their relative infancy. This prestigious recognition means that you know you’re dealing with a pretty serious burger pop-up. A frequent stall holder at Digbeth Dining Club, you can find Strip Club Streetfood with relative ease, and we are sure glad that is the case. With an excess of delicious burgers to choose from, you are spoilt for choice, and that is before you have encountered their list of phenomenal sides.
Eat like a Greek:
Greek cuisine in the pop-up landscape is a firm fan favourite, especially gyros and souvlaki. For husband-and-wife duo, Michalis’s and Ruth Petrafilis, they have injected their own Greek heritage into their cooking, producing mouth-watering meat souvlaki wraps, with the meat all locally sourced, whilst their array of herbs, oils and spices are all produced on the family’s farm on the island of Samos. Eat like a Greek is usually found in the Manchester area, although you will need to check their website to see where they are popping up next.