Zagat's Culinary Pop-Up's
The Ultimate Guide To New York Pop-Ups
Pop-up mania has taken over New York! As if there weren’t enough restaurants and bars to try around the city, chefs, party-planners and wine gurus are taking things temporary – transforming unique spaces into dining and drinking experiences that the public can enjoy for a hot minute. What do all of these transient establishments have in common? They are very popular, some of them booking up within moments of being announced. Here is your primer on the current pop-up scene, so you can be ready to snag reservations and enjoy these temporary digs while they last.
The Lowdown: Every May, the James Beard Foundation dishes out the James Beard Awards, which many people equate to the Oscars of the culinary world. This year, to drum up advance buzz and showcase some of the nominated chefs, the Foundation has set up JBF LTD, a pop-up restaurant that's running for a month in Chelsea Market. Top culinary names are participating, including David Chang and Laurent Gras.
How to Get In: This one is a hot reservation, folks. Most events are already sold out, but tickets for the collaborative dinner from David Chang and Iñaki Aizpitarte (Paris' Le Chateaubriand) will go on sale next Wednesday, April 20, while tickets for the meal from David Kinch and John Paul Carmona (of California's Manresa) will be available April 27. You can purchase them at the James Beard website starting at noon, but savvy diners signed up for Gilt City can get them at 10 AM.
Details: The restaurant will be open through May 14. You have to prepay for tickets, which are $75 on weekdays and $100 on Friday and Saturday nights. There is also daytime programming at the space if you can’t get a table (75 Ninth Ave.).
The Lowdown: LTO stands for “Limited Time Only,” which is exactly how this restaurant in the former Broadway East space will operate when it opens on April 27. Chef RJ Cooper, who's behind the soon-to-open DC restaurant Rogue 24, will preview his fare. This is a pop-up for the very hungry – there will be 16- and 24-course menus served in the dining room, while the bar will offer à la carte selections.
How to Get In: Visit the LTO website for reservations updates, and email email@example.com with desired date, time and party size.
Details: Cooper’s epic meals will be available from April 27–May 8. The 16-course option is $100 ($160 with beverage pairings) while the 24-course menu runs $125 ($180 with beverage pairings). Check out a sample menu here. After May 8, another guest chef will take the reins (171 East Broadway; 212-228-3100).
What Happens When
The Lowdown: Dovetail chef John Fraser’s NoLita pop-up is in the third month of its nine-month run. Every 30 days, the menu, decor and theme of the room changes – right now, everything is based on the famous Renoir painting "Luncheon of the Boating Party." The menu features dishes like vegetable bouillabaisse, while overhead you’ll find a tent like the one in the painting.
How to Get In: Although the restaurant is still very popular, it’s not as hard to get a spot as when it first opened. Be sure to book in advance, though, as it’s a crapshoot for walk-ins (212-925-8310).
Details: Everyone orders from the same $58 prix fixe menu, and the restaurant doesn’t accept cash. Word on the street is that this pop-up may become semipermanent – Fraser is looking to extend the run beyond nine months due to its popularity (25 Cleveland Place).
The Noble Rot
The Lowdown: This pop-up bar and "wine saloon" has held events in locations ranging from a suite at the Waldorf Manhattan to Orsay to a sprawling rooftop in the Financial District. Each shindig features a selection of vino, and in the past bartenders from city spots like Terroir and Little Branch have been on hand to go over tasting notes. For its latest event on April 14, The Rot is recreating the Sands Casino circa 1950, complete with cocktails, poker lessons, bartenders from Cienfuegos and Sinatra tunes. Get last-minute tickets here.
How to Get In: The Rot sends out newsletters (get on the list here) about upcoming events. Watch out for champagne-focused happenings in May.
Details: The events usually include plenty of booze, and tickets run in the $60-a-pop range. Don’t be surprised if you encounter a live performance or two.
The Feast/Guerilla Culinary Brigade
The Lowdown: The Guerilla Culinary Brigade has been throwing a series of pop-up dinners around town known as The Feast. These temporary restaurants usually last for 2–3 days, and draw a fashionable Downtown crowd eager to try grub from notable chefs like Todd English and Camille Becerra. The last one, held in Midtown’s Sanctuary Hotel, featured cuisine from 15-year-old chef Greg Grossman. Oh, and if you think running a pop-up is easy, be sure to check out operator Alan Philip's guest blog on the matter.
How to Get In: Get on the mailing list for these pop-ups at the Culinary Brigade’s website.
Details: Philips is mum on specific details of his next plans, but promises that The Feast will return in June “on the rooftop of a hotel, in partnership with a landmark New York restaurant.”
Pop Up Speakeasy/Adam Aleksander Presents
The Lowdown: A pop-up version of a 1920's speakeasy will pay homage to old-time Harlem glamour for one night only this weekend! On April 16, the temporary bar will take over a four-story SoHo brownstone courtesy of event guru Adam Aleksander. He's behind numerous underground pop-ups around town, including “enchanted forests” full of gin, special supper clubs and impromptu pool parties.
How to Get In: Tickets for the speakeasy event are still available for $25 a pop – get them here. To get on Aleksander’s mailing list, sign up here.
Details: The shindig will start at 9 PM, and will be held at 76 Wooster Street. And, keep an eye out for more events, because in Aleksander’s mind, the pop-up idea is here to stay: "I feel like the excitement of the pop-up has replaced the club in exclusivity. It’s a place you can't buy your way into. It’s more about being in the know and knowing who to trust will provide you with a good night.”