Catch ‘Em When You Can: Don’t-Miss Pop-Up Dining Events In Houston

It’s great to be a regular at your favorite places around town, but it’s hard to beat the unique experiences to be had at pop-up events. These often end up being informal previews to forthcoming restaurants; a means by which chefs and cooks can keep working until their brick-and-mortars are ready.

Though some of the city’s movers and shakers take off for the summer, there are plenty of pop-up events happening through the rest of the summer. Here’s a list of what to sign up for or keep an eye on right now.  

Eat. Drink. EXPERIENCE! with Alvin Schultz

Schultz is a professional chef and molecular gastronomy enthusiast who competed on MasterChef season two. Last year, he launched his Eat. Drink. EXPERIENCE! pop-up series. For the first time, it provided a way for Houston diners to regularly enjoy his creations. (Up to this point, it was a catch-as-catch-can situation with him occasionally working as a guest chef or at bar pop-ups.) His next dinner will be a huge one—a 13-course experience inspired by his recent travels through Vietnam, Cambodia and Taipei. One of the dishes will be banh cuon trứng nấm, or steamed rice and egg roll filled with mushrooms and topped with summer truffle. Schultz says no one else in Houston serves it. Three dates are available from July 28 through July 30. Send Schultz an email for more information, and to get on his regular mailing list for advance notices of future events.

Glitter Karaoke Bar, 2621 Milam

It might not be expected to find great food at a karaoke club, but the Glitter Karaoke Bar owners are serious about what is served. In fact, owners and brothers Terry and Robin Wong are so serious about it that they created Blood Bros. Barbecue as a pop-up business with childhood friend Quy Hoang. It started as a side gig, but Blood Bros. was so successful it will soon operate in a storefront on Bellaire Boulevard. Meanwhile, Glitter will continue hosting pop-ups from chefs around the city, like Reggie Carrasco on July 20 and Kelli Prescott and Kenten Marin on August 10. For more information and a list of upcoming events, check out the Glitter Karaoke Bar Facebook page.

Cuc Lam’s culinary creations are inspired by a range of cuisines. This Lotus Root salad was served at a recent pop-up dinner. Photo courtesy of Cuc Lam.

Cuc Lam, various locations

After 20 years of making meals for family and a neighborhood dive bar, Cuc Lam is bringing her special blend of Vietnamese, Thai, Cajun and Southern food to the masses, pop-up style. (If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s a fellow freelance writer and also restaurant critic at the Houston Press.) Many of these dining events are multicourse meals hosted at her home, and our own cocktail and beer writer, Josh Armendariz, (who’s also Lam’s partner), select pairings to go alongside. The city’s food-curious can expect a comfortable, homey dining experience. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about ingredients, inspiration and background for dishes. Because the groups are small, many meet new friends in the intimate setting. You may also occasionally find Lam cooking for pop-ups at local bars like Axelrad, Wooster’s Garden, Lincoln Bar and Moving SidewalkFor more information and upcoming events, check out Lam’s Feastly page and her Just Cuc It Facebook page.

Lowfi Praline’s Lucky Dog, a sweet and spicy grilled sausage on baguette with pickled watermelon radishes and aioli, was recently served at a pop-up at Lil Danny Speedo’s Go Fly a Kite Lounge. Photo courtesy of Lowfi Praline

Lowfi Praline: Jason Kerr and Becca Reyenga, various locations

Art galleries, jewelry shops, gyms and farms—Jason Kerr’s time as a chef has led to hosting culinary pop-ups in unexpected places. Now he embarks on a new set of food adventures pop-ups and catering events with confectioner and partner Becca Reyenga, as part of the duo’s new company, Lowfi Praline. With a focus on local and fresh ingredients, Lowfi makes comfort food dishes of all kinds, such as homemade burrata with pickled tiger tomatoes, Texas olive oil, and beer-battered kale. Find their pop-ups and Reyenga’s signature pralines all over the city. Upcoming events are posted on the Lowfi Facebook page and Instagram account.

Karen Man, various locations

Karen Man—of celebrated Oxheart fame—uses creativity to fuel her career, so it’s no surprise that pop-ups are an outlet for pairing her stellar baked goods with all kinds of great treats. Man says she “enjoy[s] having an outlet to share my creativity in a collaborative effort. I think guests enjoy having something out of their routine and […] supporting their friends.” Past pop-ups included whisky and wine pairings selected by Justin Vann’s at Public Services, but Man notes that each event is held in a space that matches a given theme. Look for upcoming events on Man’s Facebook page or Instagram.


Patrick Feges at Holler Brewing

As we wrote about last week, Patrick Feges has moved on from his post as pitmaster of Southern Goods. His next move is hosting a series of barbecue pop-ups at Holler Brewing (2206 Edwards) on select Sundays in July. Expect to see a variety of smoked meats from his aptly named Feges BBQ—and make sure to get there before it’s runs out. Service will start at 2 p.m. on July 9, 23, and 30, and end at 7:30 p.m. (or until the food runs out). For more information, check out the Feges BBQ Facebook page.

My Yard Reaction pig porchetta
My Yard Reaction’s whole pig porchetta roasting over open coals. Photo by Wade Elkins

Freedom Barbecue, Brett Austin Jackson, various locations

In preparation for opening his own barbecue joint this fall, Brett Jackson (formerly of Midtown Barbecue) is serving his smoked meats all over the city this summer. While brisket and beef ribs are Freedom’s bread and butter (so to speak), Jackson also churns out excellent handheld eats, such as pulled pork tacos. Expect to find him cooking at bars, festivals, Gold Cup Soccer games, Astros games and farmers markets through September. Event dates and more information can be found on the Facebook page.

My Yard Reaction BBQ, Wade Elkins

The business name might sound kind of odd, but Wade Elkins has quickly found a fan base for his culturally-influenced style of barbecue. For example, this weekend he’s serving Brisket Bánh Mì at Axelrad (1717 Alabama) as well as traditional pulled pork. At past pop-ups, he’s made smoked boudin, pollo e salchicha (smoked chicken with red bell pepper, red onion, basil and garlic) and whole hog porchetta. We have a feeling Elkins will land a permanent location someday, but in the meantime, keep up with the My Yard Reaction pop-up dates and locations on the Facebook page.

“El Chingon” from Palomo Pit BBQ. Photo by Scott Sandlin.

Palomo Pit BBQ at The New Potato Bar

As our barbecue columnist Scott Sandlin recently noted, Jose Palomo’s small trailer pit operation is worth a weekend visit to the east side. Housed at The New Potato Bar on Clinton Drive on Saturdays at 3 p.m., expect Palomo—whose full-time job at Costco’s meat department keeps him busy during the week—to turn out reliable prime brisket and St. Louis-cut pork spareribs, in addition to favorites like the “El Chingon” Sandwich, filled with smoked sausage links, brisket slices, and homemade coleslaw between brioche buns for $15.

Find information and availability via the Facebook page and Instagram.

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