New Orleans is, of course, known for its incredible food scene. Thanks to our melting pot of cultures, we have a rich array of cuisine with flavors that span the globe. A number of local food pop-ups further expand the possibilities—even if only temporarily—with options ranging from Creole and Chinese cuisine to Spanish and Filipino flavors. Of course, there are also options for burgers and other staples (lobster rolls, anyone?), and sweet treats to beat the heat. Here, we round up a bevy of local chefs that are popping up across the city, offering a bounty of foodie goodness that not only tastes amazing but will also look great on your Instagram feed.
10 Cent Baking
Gillian White Deegan, sole proprietor at 10 Cent Baking, has fond memories of baking with her mom and grandmother during her childhood. “I have baked off and on throughout my life at varying degrees, and I have always held a special place for it,” she said. “I never expected to be doing it in this capacity though.”
Deegan, who doesn’t have formal training as a pastry chef, rekindled her love of baking during the quarantine when she would often bring her baked goods to friends and coworkers at Meauxbar (where she worked as beverage director). “I initially created my Instagram as a fun way to chronicle my projects—not ever really anticipating for it to have evolved in the way it has, which has been a really cool surprise,” she said.
Deegan currently operates as a cottage bakehouse in the Lower Garden District. “I specialize in custom layer cakes, where we either work together to come up with a cake based off of a vibe or an idea for your flavor combination, or you can gather inspiration by selecting options from my list of available cake, cake filling and frosting flavors,” she said. Deegan also offers a variety of pies, cookies and brownies.
Some of her most popular cakes include the chocolate/caramel cake (chocolate buttermilk cake with dark chocolate ganache and caramel filling, with salty caramel Swiss meringue buttercream frosting) and the Chantilly berry cake (almond buttermilk cake, strawberry jam soak, cream cheese mousse and fresh berry filling, with vanilla Swiss buttercream frosting). In the winter she offers a satsuma-key lime pie. Other popular treats include the brown butter chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cream pies. Deegan accepts order inquiries at email@example.com.
Bayou Saint Cake
While Bronwen Wyatt, owner of Bayou Saint Cake, has been a professional pastry chef for years, it wasn’t until the lockdown that she started making layered cakes—just for fun. She started baking under the name Bayou Saint Cake (a play on Bayou St. John, which she lives near) after she was furloughed from her job.
Wyatt typically offers three to four different cake flavors per month, so you’ll always find something different on the menu. “My most popular cake is the Dealer’s Choice, where the client gets a surprise cake based on what’s available at the market,” Wyatt said. “I source nearly all of my produce and flowers from local farms.”
Indeed, customers can expect the unexpected thanks to Wyatt’s inventive selection of layer cakes, which she dreams up by wandering through the farmer’s market. Most feature local produce with Swiss meringue or French buttercream frosting.
Bayou Saint Cake operates out of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, with cakes available for pickup via pre-order only. Wyatt also offers custom cakes ordered up to three months in advance. Email orders can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimi Nguyen, a cottage baker and BIPOC female owner of KkimiBakes, first started baking during the pandemic as a way to occupy her free time. She started taking pre-orders, and, once word got out about her talents, her business was officially up and running.
Her first pop-up with Vivi’s (@radicaljoybakery) Vietnamese brunch was a hit, and she soon started getting requests from other vendors. “That is how I started to show up on the radar in New Orleans as a pop-up vendor,” she said.
Nguyen describes her baking as a mixture of French-inspired pastries and Asian styles. She offers a wide selection of cakes, ranging from sponge cakes and crepe cakes to gluten-free honeycomb cakes and regular cakes. However, she is most known for her cracked cream puffs and Asian desserts.
She is now popping up at Coffee Science, and she also has small pastries at Mister Mao (where she was a guest chef for the entire month of June). Nguyen also offers custom pastries and pastry boxes (filled with unique flavors during different holidays).
While the menu items don’t change often, the flavors do. “I usually get inspired by other bakers around the globe,” Nguyen said. “I try to think what people might be into or what’s popular. I usually get inspired with different bubble-tea flavors.”
Rahm Haus Ice Cream
Jillian Duran, who cooked with her mother and grandmother as a child, has worked as a pastry chef for 12 years. However, when the pandemic hit, she knew she had to pivot. That’s when she opened Rahm Haus Ice Cream (in June 2020) to offer some of the best (and highest quality) ice cream in the city. “[I wanted] to bring flavors and pairings that are usually found in fine-dining kitchens to the general public,” she said.
Duran first started Rahm Haus Ice Cream (a German name that translates as cream house) as a delivery service off of Instagram. Then she heard that Courtyard Brewery was hosting pop-ups, so she started popping up there in late August 2020 (where she has been ever since). “We are [open] inside Courtyard Brewery five days per week [Wednesday through Sunday],” Duran said. “Some Sundays, you can find us selling half pints of ice cream at Coffee Science on Broad Street from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.”
Duran has concocted more than 600 flavors since opening—most of them Philadelphia-style, meaning it lacks eggs. She currently offers nearly 16 rotating flavors, which include Black & Gold (black garlic and local honey ice cream with chunks of salted, dark chocolate-covered honeycomb candy) and Cookie Monster (the most popular—made with blue spirulina and vanilla ice cream with house-made chocolate chip cookies and Oreo cookie crumbs).
The menu changes weekly (the new menu drops on Friday nights at 9 p.m. on Instagram), and it also includes new and seasonal flavors, sorbets made with local herbs, yogurt sherbets, gelati (ice cream and sorbet combined) and coconut- and oat-based vegan ice creams. Typically, five different types of cakes also are available for pickup each week once they are listed on the website (rahmhausicecream.com).
At Only Flans, Ely Navarro Hernandez has based her flan-focused pop-up on her Cuban mother’s recipe. “I am not a very good pastry chef, and this was the one thing I had in my pocket because of my mom,” she said. “I grew up eating it and watching her make it; it’s the one thing in dessert land that came easy to me.”
Hernandez started Only Flans as a way to make money during the pandemic, but she had no idea how popular it would become. Now, she pops up at Trap Kitchen on Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for the Bywater Market; at Alto (the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel) on the third Thursday of the month this summer from 6-9 p.m.; and at the Apartment 4 Lifestyle studio every Thursday from 12-6 p.m. A few local restaurants – Kebab, Arabella, Que Pasta Nola and Manolito – also carry her flan on their menu.
Currently, Hernandez offers five flan flavors (classic, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon and squid ink) – all in the same queso style – with more being added as she experiments and perfects her recipes. During Carnival season, she also offers a mini king cake flan. At most of her pop-ups, you can expect to find classic slices garnished with cocoa-roasted almonds. “I’m always open for preorders of the whole flan in any of the flavors as well,” she said. “I just need five days minimum for pick-up.” Email email@example.com for preorders.
Originally from St. Martinville, chef Tiger Leon moved to New Orleans for its cultural energy. “I also had the opportunity of being the program manager for the COVID-19 hospital conversion here,” he said. “I overheard nurses saying they needed some good food. I prepared a barbecue feast, and it was a slam dunk.”
Leon’s mother taught him how to cook, and most of his recipes have been passed down through many generations. “My family has over 200 years of history here in Louisiana,” he said. “Every time someone eats, tastes and swallows a portion, they are experiencing a part of my history and culture through cuisine.”
He started his pop-up, Bom Creole, after bringing over a pot of gumbo, potato salad and French bread to a Saints football party. His friends said it was the best gumbo they had ever eaten, and they insisted on paying him. “I sold out in 30 minutes, and it began,” Leon said.
He describes his food as “best on the market Creole.” He offers barbecue, gumbo, fried catfish, boiled crawfish, fried chicken, pork chops, red and white beans, his mom’s famous potato salad, boudin, cracklins and more. To this day, the gumbo is the most popular. It consists of a homemade roux, the trinity, chicken gizzards, chicken, smoked sausage and andouille sausage with Leon’s special Creole seasoning.
Leon initially started popping up at Pepp’s Pub, and he is now at Big Daddy’s in the Marigny. He also offers Creole cooking classes. Follow him on Instagram for updates.
Bub’s NOLA co-owners Ron Richard, Tristan Moreau and Josh Richard are serving up some of the best burgers in town. “It was all driven by the loss of our shared friend, Rand Owens,” Moreau said. “We rallied together … to create something positive together. We would go buy different cuts of beef and grind it ourselves, tasting for differences and trying to come up with the perfect blend for a smash burger. Learning about pickling, sauces and bun research—it was something we could focus on to honor him and his family, so the motivation was genuine and it just took off from there.”
The trio started popping up at Zony Mash Beer Project in 2020 and then at Second Line Brewing. They offer a smash-style patty with crispy edges, topped with grilled onions, melted cheese, homemade bread-and-butter pickles and homemade Bub Sauce. The menu features seven burgers, including an Impossible Burger, plus a hot sausage sandwich, grilled cheese and breakfast sandwiches.
Popular choices include the Bub Royale (topped with lettuce, red onion, tomato and pickles) and the BBQ bacon cheddar (topped with diced onion, spicy mayo, bacon, grated cheddar and house-made barbecue sauce). There’s also a rotating specialty burger or sandwich every week. While Bub’s Burgers is popping up at festivals across the city, there is also now a brick and mortar restaurant at 4413 Banks St. (open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.).
Joel’s Lobster Rolls
Joel Griffin, who grew up in Connecticut, has been making lobster rolls since he was 16 years old. When he moved to New Orleans in 2017 to start college, he would often crave the lobster rolls that he grew up eating. But he had a hard time finding them here. “Half the time, locals thought lobster rolls were sushi,” he said. In 2021, after he graduated with a degree in business management, he was thinking of a business to open. When he once again found himself craving a lobster roll, he had his ah-ha moment. He had his first Joel’s Lobster Rolls pop-up in October 2021, and he started popping up full-time in January 2022. Some of his usual spots are Second Line Brewery, Miel Brewery and Taproom, Henry’s Uptown Bar and Gasa Gasa.
As THE place to find a lobster roll in New Orleans, Joel’s Lobster Rolls doesn’t disappoint. In fact, Griffin uses only the best quality lobster meat from the Northeast. “It gets air-shipped in, and I pick it up at the airport myself,” he said. “Mine are also extra tasty because the bun I use is so buttery and soft. My food is as authentic as it gets.”
He currently offers three types of lobster rolls: the hot lobster roll (a quarter pound of claw and knuckle meat, sautéed in warm butter, served on a toasted New England bun); the hot lobster roll with lobster bisque drizzle; and the mini lobster roll (a mini option that’s more affordable and about half the size). The menu also features homemade, gluten-free clam chowder and Cape Cod potato chips. Sometimes, Griffin also offers lobster loaded fries (fries topped with chunks of claw meat, lobster bisque, a zig of homemade lemon-garlic aioli and chopped parsley). Check his pop-up schedule on Instagram.
Get Your Mom & Dim Sum
Andrew Lu, owner of Get Your Mom & Dim Sum, says that Chinese food has always been an integral part of his life. “I grew up working at my uncle’s Chinese restaurant in Lafayette,” he said. “I learned dim sum through watching my father, aunts and uncles come together for special occasions where it was important for everyone to work together to make a meal.”
When Lu lost his job as a chef during the pandemic, he started to think more about what he wanted to do with his craft. “There are very few Chinese restaurants in the city at the moment, and I want to share with New Orleans my perspective as a Chinese person from Cajun Country,” he said.
Get Your Mom & Dim Sum currently pops up at breweries around the city – posted weekly on Instagram – such as Miel Brewery & Taproom, Urban South Brewery, Zony Mash Beer Project and Second Line Brewing. “We currently offer six types of dim sum on our menu,” Lu said. “It was important to have an inclusive menu, so we have items that are gluten-free, vegetarian and pescatarian, as well as small plates and things for a more hearty appetite.”
Staple menu items include the Dan Dan Dumplings (freshly rolled pork tortellini served with Chinese Lap Xuong sausage, house-made sauce and bok choy) and Crab Rangoons (stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, crab and green onion, served with a sweet chili sauce). Other options, such as crawfish boil dumplings, rotate seasonally.
Adam Mayer, self-professed chief deliciousness officer at Txow Txow, is originally from the Bay Area, but he spent the first part of his career cooking in New York City. Later, he spent some time abroad cooking in places like Bilbao, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Copenhagen, Denmark. He eventually made his way to New Orleans, working at Shaya, and then at Bywater American Bistro.
Ever since his early days in the kitchen, Mayer has wanted to work for himself doing pop-ups. “I did my latke pop-up (Latke Daddy) first in New York about six years ago, and, pretty much ever since, I’ve dreamed of doing pop-ups full-time,” he said.
During the pandemic, Mayer took the plunge and started Txow Txow in June 2020. “The ‘tx’ in the Basque language makes a ‘ch’ sound, so that’s a nod to the culture that inspired the pop-up,” Mayer said. “But phonetically it has a bunch of meanings, from the greeting ‘ciao ciao,’ to the use of ‘chow’ to just mean food, to the Southern condiment, to the dog (why not?).”
Txow Txow specializes in pintxos (small snacks that are especially popular in the Basque country). While the menu is always changing, Txow Txow does offers a few staple items like patatas bravas and a house-made chorizo burger. “My chorizo is very special,” Mayer said. “I start with really nice meat and grind it in-house before seasoning it with a blend of spices, red wine and garlic. I also use bacon instead of the traditional fatback, because we’re in the South. Then I take that patty and cook it like a smash burger, and I serve it with pickled onions, a thick slice of Manchego and shredded lettuce.”
The newest iteration of his pop-up, Donostia Supper Club, features a multi-course meal inspired by the gastronomy and fine-dining culture of Basque Country. These dinners are by reservation only, and they take place at secret locations across New Orleans. Mayer also slings spuds during the holiday season with his holiday pop-up, Lakte Daddy. Find information on his pop-ups and the supper club on Instagram.
Greta Reid, chef and owner of Greta’s Sushi, describes her pop-ups as “fine-dining street sushi.” She is accurate in that description thanks to the amount of training she has had—most notably at the James Beard award-winning Austin-based restaurant, Uchi. However, it wasn’t until she was 20 years old and working as a food runner at a Minneapolis restaurant that she learned how to make sushi. “A woman chef from El Salvador, Princess Ana, took me under her wing,” Reid said.
Reid started Greta’s Sushi during the pandemic when private sushi parties became a fad. However, her first party cancelled on her due to Covid-19, and, with hundreds of dollars of product in debt, she popped up in front of her parents’ house to sell her sushi to the neighborhood. Now, Reid hosts a monthly omakase at The Independent Caveau, which includes five sushi courses with wine pairings—plus lagniappe. (Only 16 seats are available, so reservations are required.) She also posts locations for her pop-ups on Instagram, and she offers private parties and classes.
Reid uses sustainable seafood for her sushi (usually local Gulf of Mexico products), but she also enjoys serving a special fish from overseas on occasion. “I serve sushi and Japanese cuisine in many different styles (nigiri, sashimi, temaki, maki, onigiri, donburi, crudo, ceviche, etc.),” she said. “My menu changes weekly, and I try to have one to two new menu items per week.”
One of her most popular rolls is the Fox Roll (the faux lox roll) made with cured and applewood-smoked Gulf wahoo, smoked barbecue sauce, Thai serrano preserve, fried fish shallots, satsuma ponzu, avocado, green onion, sesame seed, rice and nori. “I also like to serve unique Japanese treats that are hard to find at most sushi restaurants in America like takoyaki and tamago (a Japanese rolled-egg omelette),” she said.
Royal Bell, founder of Aloha Nola, first started cooking Hawaiian food at BJ’s Lounge as a way to stay connected to her roots and to feed people – for free. “I never intended to sell food, I just wanted to be an ambassador,” she said. “After about eight months of doing Tuesdays at BJ’s, Aloha Nola was born.” Bell now runs her pop-ups with Tiare Maumasi, who gave the pop-up its name.
According to Bell, Hawaiian and Cajun/Creole food have a lot of similarities. “We both have a lot of mixing of cultures that make up both of our cuisines,” she said. “Our food is a direct influence of those cultures from the plantation days in the 1800s in Hawaii. So there are some Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Mainland and Portuguese influences.”
Aloha Nola typically offers three to four appetizers and three to four main dishes. A popular item is the Spam musubi. “It may seem a little strange, but it is as common in Hawaii as boudin is here,” Bell said. “It is a layer of seasoned rice, a layer of wasabi mayo and a thick slice of Spam that has been cooked in a soy/pineapple reduction and wrapped in seaweed. We also do different versions of the musubi, like chicken coconut curry, pork and scallion, and royal red shrimp bahn mi. Tiare also came up with this killer combo called a hapa sundae. It’s a layer of sticky rice, a layer of our popular Mac salad, then kalua pork on top with sriracha mayo and hoisin sauce.”
Find Aloha Nola’s pop-ups on Instagram.
Michael Bruno, chef and owner at Kusina, moved to New Orleans specifically to pursue a career in the food and restaurant scene. In November 2020, he was furloughed from his job as a line cook. That’s when he decided to open Kusina (a Tagalog word, meaning kitchen). “Since I was a kid, my mom and aunts passed down all of their knowledge from the kitchen, and I took interest immediately,” he said. “The kitchen is really the heart of the Filipino home.”
Bruno describes his menu as a mix of contemporary and traditional Filipino food. “Filipino food is still highly underrepresented here,” he said. “I try to use the flavors I grew up with in new and interesting ways, while still respecting the ingredients and the classic dishes.”
While the menu changes seasonally, popular items include the Tocilog (house-cured pork shoulder, pickled green papaya, a fried egg and garlic fried rice) and the Bagoong Brussels sprouts (deep fried and tossed in a fermented shrimp-paste vinaigrette, herbs and red onion). “Occasionally I’ll come across an ingredient from the Philippines that I’m really excited to use or a dish that I’m nostalgic for, and I’ll incorporate that into the menu for a limited time,” Bruno said.
Kusina typically pops up at Miel Brewery, Gasa Gasa and Pal’s Lounge. Find the weekly pop-up schedule on Instagram.
Another local Filipino pop-up is from Christina Quackenbush, chef and owner of Milkfish (named Southeast Restaurant of the Year by New Orleans Magazine in 2014). Quackenbush, who was born in the Philippines, moved to America when she was four years old. She eventually made her way to New Orleans after a trip she took here in 2000.
Her love of food started at a young age, when she would help on her grandmother’s farm—seeding, sowing, picking and canning vegetables. “Watching my grandmother produce these things from a seed to the dinner table amazed me,” she said. “While my grandmother taught me fundamentals of cooking, my mother taught me Filipino food.”
Quackenbush describes her menu as traditional Filipino fare with inspirations from Louisiana. “It’s known for its garlic and sour notes,” she said. “There are some spicy dishes as well as seafood.”
While her menu changes weekly (she bases it off of requests from Instagram), popular dishes have included chicken adobo (simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper and coconut milk); Sisig (pork face, chicken liver, chili and calamansi); and Halo Halo (a Filipino snowball with flavored gels, flan, ube ice cream, condensed milk, crushed ice, red beans and jackfruit).
Quackenbush, who was recently featured on the HBO Max show, Take Out with Lisa Ling, hosts monthly reservation-only Kamayan dinners at La Boca. She also pops up at Twelve Mile Limit every Thursday.