9 pop-up restaurants in Madison
We've tracked down some exciting pop-ups
You won’t find a permanent address for many of these food purveyors because they’re gone as quickly as they arrive. Pop-ups are crazy popular, and Madison has wasted no time jumping on the trend. While some restaurants stay put, pop-ups come and go by using kitchen spaces of other restaurants, or a restaurant transforms into a totally different eatery. For foodies, that means new and affordable cuisine to try out. The excitement that comes with feeling in-the-know about pop-ups is only half the fun. The other half is enjoying off-the-menu food that many chefs create with a limitless supply of creativity. Luckily for you, we’ve tracked down some of Madison’s most exciting pop-ups.
Bagels from Underground Butcher
This Williamson Street butcher shop transforms into a Manhattan street corner on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon, serving New York-style bagels by chef Jonny Hunter, along with Underground Food Collective pastry chef Lauralynne Rosenberger and Kristina Stanley. The bagels — sesame, sea salt, plain or everything — are made fresh and often paired with house-cured fish, spreads or charcuterie. Be sure to try the bagel with homemade cream cheese for a simple, classic staple or step outside the box with a smoked whitefish spread. Available from 9 a.m. until noon every weekend, bagels are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to plan ahead. 811 Williamson St., 338-3421 $
Big Mouth Pasta
After frequenting the kitchens of Macha Tea Co. and Robin Room for a few dinner pop-ups, Big Mouth Pasta now focuses on make-and-take pasta class pop-ups and a pasta-plus-yoga dinner event called Pastasana. Big Mouth’s story started when owner Kelly Messori went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to study pastry arts. There, she met her now-husband Damián Messori, who grew up cooking pasta with his Italian family. After landing in Madison, the couple fused Argentine traditions with Wisconsin’s farm-fresh ingredients to create Big Mouth Pasta, which prides itself on handmade noodles and ingredients chosen for their freshness and quality. Watch its focus shift from local produce to the use of different cheeses over the winter season. facebook.com/BigMouthPastaMadison $$
Common Pasta is making house-made pasta on wheels, and the food cart doesn’t slow down during cold winter months. The food cart, which received the top score from the city’s annual top 10 food cart listing in its second year in business, is run by chefs Brian Baur and Thomas Durbin. Along with specials, the menu offers three main entrees: a cold seasonal pasta salad, ragu and classic mac and cheese. While this list is small, the pasta dishes’ expertly balanced flavors don’t disappoint. And we’re glad Common Pasta pops up in the winter, when a warm bowl of above-average pasta is in order. The pasta is prepared fresh in a rented kitchen space on Williamson Street and boiled on-site. You can also find comfort in the eatery’s fresh bread — the perfect dipping companion — and its homemade salted caramels. Check Common Pasta’s Facebook page to see where it’ll be next. facebook.com/commonpasta, 1 E. Main St. $
Dinner with the Millers
Part of the pop-up experience is making guests feel special with inspired offerings and intimate settings. Such is the case at “Dinner with the Millers,” a twice-monthly takeover of Sujeo’s noodle bar or Estrellón, hosted by award-winning chef Tory Miller and his pastry chef wife, Kristine Miller. The husband-and-wife team hosts the dinner for 16 and treats them as if they were guests in their home. Some menus will feature rib-eye cooked the way Tory prepares it for his family; other dinners offer cheeseburgers or a pasta dish with fresh vegetables. “I want to make food that I want to make, that I want to eat, how I want to make it,” Tory says. “I cook every day … but I don’t cook a whole meal for someone and say, ‘I made this for you. I’m glad you like it.’ ” The menus and dates for the Tuesday night dinners are posted about a month in advance on all of Tory’s restaurant Facebook pages, as well as at the Deja Food Group website. dejafoodgroup.com/events, 10 N. Livingston St., 630-9400 $$$$
Each Other is composed of four friends, Tim Smith, Megan Travers, Michael Signorelli and Jacob Wolf, who drew up the idea for a pop-up eatery after finding they enjoyed cooking for each other. Because their eatery inhabits restaurant kitchens all over town, the group places importance on building a connection between the venue and the food that grows around it. Thus, its cuisine is always thoughtful and seasonal, incorporating ingredients from the markets, farms and forests in the area. Past creations include Norwegian lefse with herbed eggs as well as crispy potatoes with shaved root and arugula salad to fit the atmosphere of the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Be sure to check Each Other’s Facebook page to see where it pops up next. facebook.com/eachothermadison, location varies, 218-4094 $$$$
You can’t just pop into this pop-up. To claim a spot at one of Hahri Shin’s Korean Supper Club pop-ups, you must fill out a short application, and organizer and chef Hahri Shin will let you know when and where the next event will be. What started as intimate dinner parties hosted by Shin (who moved to Madison from Los Angeles), the Korean Supper Club pop-ups are now bigger and open to those interested in a Korean-inspired meal. Dinners often feature Korean fried chicken (Shin’s specialty) and bone broth. On Instagram, Shin shares photos from @hahriskitchen via Facebook of some of his food creations, including kimchi bokkeumbap, oxtails in a gochujang sauce, wagyu katsu sliders and other colorful and hearty-looking dishes. Hosting pop-ups works better for Shin than opening a traditional restaurant right now, as Shin is in need of a kidney transplant. Korean Supper Club form: buff.ly/2MHPCgR $ $ (suggested donation)
Usually every Monday from 3 to 8 p.m., Lauralyn Rosenberger and Mason Purtell of LZ Noodles take over Underground Butcher’s kitchen. Served conveniently in a well-portioned cup, the hand-pulled noodles stay the same but the add-ins change from week to week. Past offerings have included noodles and broth paired with a tea egg, greens, spicy peppers and beets. The eatery prides itself on the use of local, seasonal ingredients and offers a vegan base broth. Occasionally a topping will be non-vegan, such as an egg or even a slice of meat, but the add-ons can always be taken off. 811 Williamson St., 338-3421 $
Pizza Lunch at A Pig in a Fur Coat
One thing about pop-ups is that they sometimes become so popular that they turn into a regular event. That’s the case with A Pig in a Fur Coat’s Pizza Lunch Wednesdays, which fall on the third Wednesday of every month. Chef Daniel Bonanno and sous chef Jonathan Huttsell make the perfect pair, serving up wood-fired pizza with fresh ingredients and house-made dough to a usually large lunch crowd that’s often sprinkled with some Madison restaurant industry notables. Pizza is never something you’d find on Pig’s regular menu, but Bonanno loves making it, and he often stays outside of the box with an ever-changing pizza lunch menu. Choose from two meat options as well as one vegetarian selection. And with the pizza being just over personal pan-size, you don’t have to share if you bring your appetite. 940 Williamson St., 316-3300 $$
Ramen Room (Sujeo at Robin Room)
This pop-up collaboration started as a Sujeo/Robin Room neighborhood mashup. Chef Tory Miller and sous chef Jamie Hoang create bar-friendly recipes, fusing locally sourced ingredients with Asian techniques and flavors. “[They] essentially just think about what food they would want to eat at a bar,” says bartender Mike Lu of the cuisine. Because of the atmosphere, shareable finger food items often make the menu. General Tso’s chicken wings, BLT spring rolls and a classic egg roll are just some of Miller and Hoang’s past creations, proving comfort food can be far from boring. The pop-up uses biodegradable plates and flatware for an easy throwaway when your dish turns empty, which won’t take long. 821 E. Johnson St., 284-7638 $$
Abigail Carpenter is a former Madison Magazine editorial intern.
COPYRIGHT 2021 BY MADISON MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.