Starting a restaurant can require huge financial investments that can often take a long time to recoup. Word has to get out that your food and service are awesome and even then, it can take awhile to build up a regular clientele. Enter the pop-up, a great way for a budding restaurateur to test the waters and try out new dishes without the upfront costs needed to build a restaurant from the ground up. Pop-up chefs borrow another restaurant’s kitchen after it’s closed shop for the night. They have ready access to equipment and a dining area, while the owner of the restaurant usually receives some rent, thereby making a little money when her restaurant would normally be closed. The growing popularity of pop-ups, both in New Orleans and around the country, is a testament to the win-win benefits of this arrangement.
Here is a sample of several new pop-up restaurants in New Orleans with some representative dishes. Take note: pop-up menus often change weekly, as chefs respond to diners’ feedback, so some of the dishes may not be on current menus. Also, before you head out to dine, make sure to note the hours and even changing locations of some pop-ups, which can move from one restaurant to another, depending on the day of the week.
We’ve Got Soul every Friday night from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. at Marie’s Bar. We’ve Got Soul serves traditional soul food. Menu items include the pork cake with a sunny-side-up egg and ham bone crowder peas.
Dim Sum and Then Some occurs every Sunday from 6-11 p.m. at The Joint and is already accumulating a faithful following. The creative, flavorful fair can be described as Pan-Asian with a twist featuring dishes like a pickle plate, pig ear salad and fried chicken thighs.
Milkfish is on Sundays from noon-2 a.m. at Marie’s Bar and Sundays from noon – 10 p.m. at a Mano Italian Restaurant. Milkfish offers Filipino fare. Some of their menu items include pork cheeks with garlic and chilli and Cassava cake.
The breadth of these menus is enough to make me pull out my calendar and hit one each night of the week. And because these folks are trying to build a following, not only are their dishes delicious, but they are priced very affordably. If you are looking for some out of the ordinary fare, each inspired by a different part of the world, then pop in to one of these new restaurants.
Elizabeth Pearce gives historic cocktail walking tours of the French Quarter. When she’s not drinking or talking about drinking, she’s writing about drinking at Neat with a Twist. To find out more, visit Elizabeth’s website.