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Portland’s Pop-Up Paradise: 10 Bites Well Worth the Wait

If you haven’t treated your palate to Portland’s booming pop-up scene, this summer is as good a time as any to start experiencing the nesting doll of total deliciousness that is city’s restaurant-within-a-restaurant subculture. These pop-ups can be hard to track and harder to get a seat at, but these 10 are well worth the detective work.

Hunnymilk // La Buca

Nestled in Italian staple La Buca, Hunnymilk has become the go-to pop-up for Portland brunch evangelists who don’t want to be forced to decide between sweet and savory. At $20 per head, be ready to pick a dish from both sides of the menu. Their mostly-American fare touches all the right taste notes to keep you coming back every week. Hunnymilk is a walk-in only affair, so make sure to pregame with a quick snack if you’re the fainting type. Luckily, Hunnymilk’s waiting area features tarot cards, vintage toys, and coloring books to keep your party entertained.

WHAT TO TRY: Carrot cake waffle dipped in honey butter with cream cheese mousse, candy carrots, and whiskey black walnut toffee (seen above)

DETAILS: Saturday and Sunday from 9 am — 2 pm at La Buca (40 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR)

Ox Box // Ox

No one said pop-ups had to be at someone else’s restaurant. James Beard Award-winning chef duo and real-life couple Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton created a pop-up close to home with Ox Box, the new Argentinian choripan sandwich and empanada destination located right in their own parking lot.

WHAT TO TRY: Grilled poblano, sweet potato, gruyere and fontina empanada

DETAILS: 11 am — 2 pm every day, May 30 till Labor Day at Ox (2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Portland, OR)

Fukami // Davenport

If you love sushi and want to treat yourself to an unforgettable 19-course experience, you’ll probably find that Fukami deserves the major hype it’s garnered among Portland foodies.

WHAT TO TRY: This deeply seasonal menu changes at every event, so go with an open mind! One dish you mind encounter: sake broiled oyster w/ saikyo miso cured foie gras and truffle

DETAILS: Select dates by reservation only at Davenport (2215 E Burnside Street, Portland, OR)

Of Roots and Blooms // Culmination Brewery

Lest we forget the vegans among us, Of Roots and Blooms offers up rich, savory dishes many plant-eaters don’t often get to enjoy. Think loaded barbeque grinders, melty mac & cheese, creamy strawberry shortcake, and even New England-style clam chowder (all feats of modern science if you ask us). This simply must be what vegan heaven tastes like. Don’t forget to try some of Culmination’s exotic brews while you’re there, like their Nettles & Kettles Sour with stinging nettle.

WHAT TO TRY: Picnic Plate with BBQ tofu, maple-mustard soy curls, potato salad, grilled corn, and rosemary-salted watermelon

DETAILS: Sundays 12–8 pm at Culmination Brewery (2117 NE Oregon St, Portland, OR)

Ranch // Apex

Apex is one of those summer patio spots Portlanders of all walks of life can enjoy. If their giant tap list isn’t enough of a draw already, the addition of Sicilian-style pizza pop-up Ranch should do the trick. Ranch delivers by the slice or pie to Apex as well as a few other Portland brew spots: BeerMongers, Baerlic, and Grixsen Brewing. Is pizza and beer your thing? Of course it is. Check out Ranch this summer while you sip.

WHAT TO TRY: Pizza #4: Hot pork sausage, mama lil’s peppers, chevre, aged mozzarella, red sauce, pecorino, and fresh basil

DETAILS: Delivery to the above bars Thursday 5–10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm — midnight, and Sunday 3–10 pm

Mae // Old Salt Marketplace

Appalachian cuisine doesn’t really get a lot of glory in modern urban food scenes. Mae is here to change that with rich suppers that are nothing if not hospitable to the palate. Answer the call of the dinner bell for dishes like three-fat skillet fried chicken or pimento mac & cheese — and don’t forget the sassafras sweet tea.

WHAT TO TRY: White corn spoonbread with cornmeal custard souffle, seascape strawberries, and vanilla buttermilk

DETAILS: Mae takes place in Old Salt Marketplace (5027 NE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR). Join their mailing list to get an announcement when tickets go on sale at maepdx.com.

Fusspot Chicken // KitchenCru

Speaking of fried chicken, those in search of the perfect bird need look no further than monthly pop-up Fusspot Chicken. Their Korean-style recipe is the only thing on the menu, so you know it’s got to be perfection.

WHAT TO TRY: Fried chicken with sesame slaw and spicy gochujang sauce

DETAILS: First Saturday of the month from 5–7 pm by reservation only at KitchenCru (337 NW Broadway, Portland, OR).

Thali Supper Club // Tournant

Chef Leena Ezekiel dreamed up Thali Supper Club as a communal-style meal showcasing variations of regional Indian dishes. Curry and street food-laden menus vary each month by themes like “India’s Hidden Gem: Kerala” or “A Konkan Wedding Feast.” Perhaps the best thing about this pop-up, though, is that asking for seconds is encouraged.

WHAT TO TRY: Thali Supper Club’s menu changes for each event, so just arrive with an empty stomach and an open mind and let your chefs take care of the rest

DETAILS: Monthly at Tournant (920 NE Glisan Portland, OR). Visit thalisupperclub.com for reservations.

JolieLAIDE // Langbaan

Yet another elusive pop-up within a pop-up, understanding what’s so special about JolieLAIDE takes knowing a bit about its already semi-secret host restaurant. Langbaan is a back room affair in famed Portland Thai destination Paa Dee. Once you put yourself on the typical many-month waitlist to get a table at Langbaan, you can tide yourself over with a trip to JolieLAIDE. Nestled in the same intimate, woodsy nook, JolieLAIDE’s “articulation of emotion through food” will take you to poetic heights thanks to your trust guide Chef Vince.

WHAT TO TRY: This 12-course menu is ever-changing. Expect hyper-seasonal cuisine with clever wine pairings along the way

DETAILS: By reservation only Monday nights at Langbaan (6 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR)

Bonus round:

Traditional 3-Course Tea // Deepwood Museum & Gardens

Sometimes you need to head out of town for truly unique summer memory-making in one of Portland’s neighboring destinations. The traditional three-course tea on the stunning grounds of Deepwood Museum & Gardens is the perfect treat for the Downton Abbey-est people in your scene. Ready to sip rose petal black tea in a historic house? Consider this one-day event your late-summer daytrip treat.

DETAILSTuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. → 1116 Mission St. SE, Salem, or buy tickets now

2017 Oregon Brews & BBQs // The OMI Lot

Beer and BBQ make an irresistible combo, and this summer they also offer a good a reason as any to get away from Portland — but not so far away that you have to plan much. Take your laid-back road tripping urges down to McMinnville in early September to welcome the end of summer with sips from over 35 breweries and BBQ done right. This is a great event for families and their dogs and supports local charities, too. What’s not to love?

DETAILS: September 8, 9, & 10 at 5 p.m. → 400 NE Baker St., McMinnville, or buy tickets now