Pop-up eateries are having a moment in the Santa Barbara South Coast. No permanent address, no problem! Not being tethered to a full-time brick-and-mortar space removes barriers to entry for talented local chefs and dessert wizards who have embraced the pop-up concept. From bagels and baked goods to burgers and ice cream sundaes, the following 10 pop-ups have earned loyal followings for their creative, quality fare. Foodies in the know strategize their schedules to ensure they don’t miss a bite, and with a little advanced Instagram reconnaissance, so can you.
Launched in 2020 by owner/chef Bryan Foel and his son,The Bagel Boiz will make your Saturday morning more delicious with their East Coast-inspired sourdough bagels. Think crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. An extra 24-hour cold ferment ups the signature sourdough tang. Check their Instagram for the menu of weekly specials on sweet and savory bagels and bialys that pack a big flavorful punch. They typically sell out so place your order at the beginning of the week when the menu “drops” Monday evenings to ensure you don’t miss out come Saturday morning. Menus are announced via their Instagram stories, orders are taken through direct message and confirmed once Venmo payment has been processed. Order Monday starting at 6:00 p.m. via Instagram DM for pick up Saturdays between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. at Third Window Brewery Kitchen.
Founded by a husband-wife duo, Piti Sukavivatanachai and Kathy Dao, craft ice cream specialistCreaminal pops up for “No Sad Sundaes” ice cream socials every Saturday evening at Your Choice Thai Restaurant—just in time for your post-dinner dessert! Their ever-changing menu of inventive flavor combinations runs the gamut from Blueberry Corn and Mango Sticky Rice to a vegan-style classic sundae. Every other day of the week you can get a taste of Creaminal ice cream inside for sale by the cup or pint at the same location. Preview the sundaes menu onInstagram andget social at Your Choice Thai Restaurant from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings.
Dang Burger will have you craving their sinfully delicious smash burgers, made with a 100% grass-fed ground beef chuck patty from Ventura Meat Co., or their vegan homemade black bean patty with a cornmeal crust. The venture grew out of hosting burger nights for friends and became an Instagram official pop-up in 2020. They keep the menu simple and tight with three burger options. Bonus: they also sell their own Juju hot sauce by the bottle. Follow their Instagram to keep tabs on where they are popping up next. Spots like Municipal Winemakers’ and Elsie’s Tavern have been on their recent Santa Barbara rotation. CheckInstagram for details of their pop-up announcements.
Joanna Lawlor serves American food with a distinctive Asian flair, influenced by her half Filipino, half Irish heritage. She shares recipes and cooking tips on her websiteEating With Joe, and brings her Filipino dishes like Pork Sisig to the people at in-person pop-ups. Often, you can find her in the Funk Zone at venues like Municipal Winemakers and Santa Barbara Wine Collective, as well as other downtown wineries like Grassini Family Vineyards. Follow herInstagram to discover where Jo is popping up next.
Sandra Adu Zelli, the talented baker and chef behindGipsy Hill Bakery, worked under several well-known chefs in her native UK before settling in Santa Barbara in 2008. Here, she reconnected with her passion for produce at our near-daily farmers’ markets. She went on to launch Gipsy Hill Bakery to share her locally inspired, artisanal recipes. She applies classic European techniques to make comfort foods with a seasonal, modern twist. Expect items like gluten-free cookies, organic veggie galettes, hot cross buns and pavlovas. Sandra releases a new menu every other Monday and bakes for weekly Friday pick-ups. She’s also open to custom orders, so don’t be shy about reaching out! Order online by 6 p.m. Thursday for a contactless pick-up Friday between 10 a.m. and noon. You’ll receive pick-up instructions with your order confirmation.
Donut lovers fall head over heels for made-from-scratch donuts. While founder Tommy C came to fame for his original mochi donut, flavors like Black Sesame & Yuzu and Guava Cream Cheese keep customers coming back for more. Until their brick-and-mortar opens, Kin is popping up at the same State Street location on Saturday mornings. They are known to sell out quickly so queuing up early is a smart move given no pre-orders are taken. Also note that they limit each customer to two donuts per person, so bring an extra set of hands if you’re buying for the whole family. Peruse the latest menus on Instagram. CheckInstagram for details of their pop-up announcements.
Chef Dalan Moreno’s vegan food is so good, Rascal’s has a special monthly menu of happenings at various events and venues (just check its Instagram bio for weekly updates). For example, sometimes he adds a weekend brunch and donut service and his vegan “Egg McMuffins” are known to make special appearances at Low Pigeon Coffee.
Skyler Bryce Pies is another micro-bakery specializing in “casually baked” pies available as full pies or a sampler box featuring a trio of slices. Full pies are 9-inches and serve six to eight people—or two people with ample second helpings! Her seasonal pies are just as pretty as they are delicious. And she takes custom orders for cakes and pies if you want to place a special order. Order from the weekly menu updatedonline Monday mornings, make your payment to confirm the order and then pick-up on Sunday.
Beer paired with shawarma is a match made in Santa Barbara heaven. Picture this: It’s a perfect 74 degrees out and you’re basking in the sun on the patio of Third Window Brewing Co. with a cold German-style lager in hand. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and you just took your first bite of the creamy, tangy (and slightly spicy) Istanbul Sandwich. Tamar Santa Barbara lends a hand in the kitchen of Third Window Brewing Co. every Monday through Wednesday from 12-4 p.m., where patrons can dine on Turkish-inspired cuisine such as the popular Chicken Shawarma or Classic Falafel plates.
Photo Credit: @danielle_rubi_productions via Instagram
Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional“Off Menu” offering at Your Choice Thai. These tasty happenings run the gamut from limited afternoon 3-course menus featuring special dishes to banh mi and bun pop-ups. Online orders can be placed in advance and, depending on availability, you can also walk in. Follow Your Choice onInstagram for news of the next Off Menu event.
The Santa Barbara South Coast and surrounding wine country have long attracted foodies and culinary explorers, and these endorsements will no doubt pique the interest and palates of those who have yet to discover the area’s singular mix of flavors.