Pop-ups are everywhere in New Orleans. They’re at neighborhood festivals and markets, they’re in the back kitchens at corner bars and they take over other restaurants for one-off appearances or weekly gigs.
Next Wednesday, a richly diverse cross-section of the city’s pop-up food economy will be gathered under one roof.
The event is called Propeller Pop, and it’s an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit Propeller. Through its business accelerator program, Propeller helps local entrepreneurs launch new nonprofit and commercial ventures in fields like education and youth development, public health, water management and access to healthy foods.
Propeller Pop is held at the group’s Broadmoor headquarters to spotlight their work, and each year Propeller invites a different collection of pop-ups to provide the food. Along the way, the event has grown into an annual showcase of new flavors and different paths for up-and-coming chefs and food entrepreneurs.
“Pop-ups are in many ways the start-ups of the food world now,” said Catherine Gans, the Propeller’s marketing manager. “That’s the connection between what they’re doing and what we do.”
This year, Propeller Pop marks the nonprofit’s own fifth anniversary and a milestone of 100 businesses launched with its support. The pop-ups taking part are as varied as ever. Some are well-known, like the prolific pop-up the Old Portage, which has regular gigs at venues across town, or Milkfish, which is back in pop-up mode after running its own Mid-City restaurant for a stretch.
Three others – the PDR, the Sweet Spot and Koreole- are just coming off stints at St. Roch Market, the food court on St. Claude Avenue and are now working on their own (the Sweet Spot has just established a new home base, with a stand at the French Market). Others are just getting started, and some have big plans ahead.
At Propeller Pop you can sample and check in with each. Drinks are also provided in the pay-one-price admission, including Abita beer, wine, a spiked version of mango freeze and a signature cocktail from Kevin Augustine of Cochon Butcher (garnished with Pop Rocks, naturally).
Here’s the roster for Propeller Pop and details on where else to find its crop of pop-ups around the city.
Black Swan Food Experience
Contemporary soul cooking, blending Creole, Thai and Caribbean flavors.
On the event menu: vegan succotash taco, with lima beans, roasted corn, marinated tomatoes, crispy fried okra and herb coconut cream.
Find them: brunch at Hollygrove Market & Farm (8301 Olive St.), on April 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner with jazz musician Khari Allen Lee at the Building (1427 O.C. Haley Blvd.), April 29 at 8 p.m. Black Swan is fundraising to open a restaurant. See updates and future pop-up details at blackswanfoodexperience.com.
House of Dumpling
Traditional (and not-so-traditional) Chinese dumplings.
On the event menu: Sui mai filled with pork and shrimp; oyster mushroom and Napa cabbage dumplings with seaweed and miso
Find them: pop-ups at Barrel Proof (1201 Magazine St.). The next is May 22, from 6-10 p.m.
Korean and Creole flavors combined.
On the event menu: Bulgogi po-boy sliders
Find them: Koreole plans to open its own eatery at 2809 St. Claude Ave. this summer. Get pop-up updates at koreole.com.
Dishes sourced exclusively from foods produced within 200 miles of New Orleans.
On the event menu: popcorn rice roll, with market vegetables, pickled ginger, turmeric aioli, wasabi micro greens.
Find them: pop-up brunch Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hollygrove Market & Farm (8301 Olive St.); monthly ticketed “Farmer to Table dinners.” Get updates at nolalocalacres.com.
Traditional Filipino food, like adobo, lumpia and fried rice dishes.
On the event menu: Bicol express siopao – steamed buns filled with pork cooked in coconut milk.
Where else: pop-ups most Saturdays at Broad Theater (636 N. Broad St.), 6 p.m.-‘til; look for a special event May 2 at Killer PoBoys, 239 Dauphine St. Get updates at milkfishnola.com.
Handmade, locally-sourced comfort food with a twist.
On the event menu: corn muffins smothered with crawfish etouffée; pork belly tacos; mini coconut chess pies.
Find them: regular late-night pop-ups at the Evangeline Lounge II (1753 St. Charles Ave.), Thu.-Sat. 11 p.m.-2 a.m.
The Old Portage
Small plates inspired by New Orleans’ port city heritage.
On the event menu: masa fried chicken skin tostada with refried red beans, red chile roasted chicken, schmaltz crema.
Find them: pop-ups at NOLA Brewing Tap Room (3001 Tchoupitoulas St.) each Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; at the Black Penny bar (700 N. Rampart St.) for Vietnamese style crawfish boils each Thursday, 6 p.m.-til, and pop-ups every other Saturday (in June, the schedule will expand to each Saturday and some Fridays at the Black Penny). See more at theoldportage.com.
Eclectic Southern-style cuisine.
On the event menu: charred local eggplant: crispy rice, local vegetables, roasted pepper sauce.
Find them: pop-ups at 323 (323 Verret St), an Algiers event space, on Apil 21 and May 12, 19 and 26. Friday pop-ups planned at Bar Tonique (820 N. Rampart St.). See more at thepdrnola.com.
Port City Pantry
Seasonal baked goods and cooking, inspired by local ingredients.
On the event menu: chocolate chip pecan and cocoa nib cookie; brown butter cocoa nib sugar cookie; rose vanilla bean shortbread.
Find them: monthly pop-ups at Solo Espresso (1301 Poland Ave.), next edition is May 14. Baked goods served at local cafes. See more at portcitypantry.com.
Wood-fired Southeast Asian-style barbecue
On the event menu: Louisiana pork shoulder with garlic chili vinaigrette and cracklin’.
Find them: next pop-up is April 25 at Carrollton Station (8140 Willow St.), from 5 p.m. See updates on Facebook.
The Sweet Spot
Home-style pastries and desserts.
On the event menu: Key lime pie; pecan praline bread pudding with whiskey sauce
Find them: look for a new stand at the French Market (1235 S. Peters St.), Fri.-Sun. Desserts are served at local restaurants and bars. See more at sweetspotnola.com.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.