POSTED Tue. Mar 5, 2013


Pop Goes the Restaurant Scene
Amie Marvel
Written by AMIE MARVEL

Something about the term “pop-up” has always made me a little skittish. Like when a DJ describes a band by splicing together other bands. Or when a food critic uses the word “twist” too many times. It’s hard to put my finger on, and I probably just sound like a curmudgeonly old lady, but something about it feels constrictive. Maybe the term just took up residence in our vocabulary too easily, and I don’t trust it’s wily innocence. I like words to earn their seats. I like descriptions to describe. Maybe I should have never taken that linguistics class in college.

At any rate, as a veteran of the restaurant industry, I want to be lured by the fare, not the scene, as I’m sure is the case with most others. Alas, there’s no fighting it. The term pop-up has found its sea legs and is here to stay. And in fairness, from an aerial view of almost any city in the country right now, it’s an accurate description. There are little blips of food events, hawkings, slingings, mobile menus, and squats; a veritable radar screen of happenings, popping up in a flash and fading quickly, as another nearby captures the eye. Culinary firework shows.

In practice, they’re a pretty exciting form of restaurant. A crew can stretch their legs, play with things they maybe couldn’t afford to risk in a more permanent endeavor. There are rogue elements and unpredictable challenges. For the adrenaline junkies that many of us are in this business, this can be an especially good time. Or a sharp, practical learning curve for the less experienced, who are dreaming of their own place someday and want to take the idea out on a date first. This model has proven successful for several of our city’s restaurateurs, like Pizza Delicious, Boucherie or Noodle and Pie.

Oh yeah, and pop ups are really fun. They harness the spontaneity of a block party, the feeling that you’re getting away with something, while simultaneously getting in on something, making new friends, trying food you’ve never seen before, or from the hands of a cook who’s never had his own range before. There’s a lot to love about these gigs, both for the diner and for the crew.

New Orleans is amassing an impressive roster of adventurous, nomadic food events, and I could easily write a separate post about each one of them. The trajectory of the chefs, the venues, and the menus are ripe with triumph, tragedy, intrigue, coincidence, and perseverance. The nature of these events tugs, I think, at something in all of us that roots for the underdog, for an enterprising passion, dogged focus, and of course, mischief.

For the visitor or the resident, each week offers several chances to get some renegade food action. From food truck round-ups, to elegant 6-course dinner parties, the fare varies wildly. Keeping track of all the action around town can be a little daunting, as a lot of the news about these happenings travel by word of mouth. Eater NOLA is an excellent, constantly updated source of food gossip, and Facebook pages and Twitter help to keep followers informed.

Here’s a short list of NOLA pop-ups, self-consciously starting with Dim Sum and Then Some, a monthly food event I run with Matt Hayashi at the Joint. I’ll not compromise this post with a bunch of horn-tooting, but so as not to break my own rules, I should describe the food (Ed note: It’s bloody amazing).

The menu is a collection of small dishes, most easily described as Asian bar food. Taking our main inspiration from Chinese Dim Sum cuisine, we always feature several kinds of dumplings, rolls, or potstickers, and the staple char siu bao (steamed, smoked pork buns). While we lack the means to serve off the traditional Dim Sum cart, the food is all best enjoyed in that same style of everyone sharing, and thus being able to try bites of as many things as possible. There’s usually a salad, and a soup, both of varying regional origin, and then the larger plates of Japanese fried chicken, and Korean bulgogi burger.

There are typically a few specials thrown in to the mix, to allow us to play with a new ingredient, like octopus, or beef tongue. The flavors are bold, with lots of chili, sesame, ginger and garlic used in our dishes. And while we do stray from some of the traditional renditions, it’s not done recklessly or brashly. Folks seem to have a good time (insert smiley face here).

Other places around town that I’d definitely recommend getting in that line for when they pop up on the radar screen:

  • Gemelli’s: Italian family style, Monthly (Monday) @ Lilette, Magazine St

Photos by Amie Marvel

POSTED Nov 4, 2019


A New Orleans & Me Guide to Beer in the Crescent City

A New Orleans & Me Guide to Beer in the Crescent City

The beer scene in New Orleans has exponentially expanded since 2010, ballooning from a few beer-specializing bars and one homegrown brewery to a series of brewpubs, microbreweries and…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED May 16, 2019


Bayou Boogaloo & You!

Bayou Boogaloo & You!

In the seemingly never-ending string of festivals New Orleans hosts all year round Bayou Boogaloo (Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19) is one of the standouts. Since…....

Written by NEW ORLEANS & ME
POSTED Dec 14, 2018


Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Breaking Down the Best New Orleans & Louisiana Holiday Music

Hey, the weather outside is kind of frightful! About as frightful as it gets down here anyways (also, note that next week temperatures will be back in the…....

Written by ADAM KARLIN
POSTED Nov 27, 2018


Ready for Reveillon

Ready for Reveillon

Just like caroling on Jackson Square, the St. Louis Cathedral concerts, or bonfires on the levee, Reveillon dinners are a beloved Crescent City holiday tradition. This year a…....


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



    was added to your favorites.



    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook