Pop-ups were everywhere in Philly before the COVID-19 pandemic started, and dine-in restrictions have led several restaurants to come up with a creative crop of new options. This curated guide includes everything longer-term pop-ups and one-off events.
What’s the Catch?
The Deal: Seasoned Philly restaurateur George Reilly returns to his English roots with a new fish ‘n’ chips venture out of Headhouse Square’s temporarily closed The Twisted Tail. Choose between cod, haddock, and a third rotating fish to go along with four batter options, or go the grilled route. Traditional sides include battered pineapple rings, fried pickles, or mushy peas. The all-inclusive menu also features gluten-free batter and grilled tempura veggies.
Where: The Twisted Tail, 509 S. 2nd Street
Dates: Hours for third-party delivery and place-by-phone pickup (215-558-2471) are Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
Cost: Sides are $2.50-$6 and fish and chips come in regular ($12.99) or large ($18.99) sizes
James Beard Foundation’s Taste America: Laser Wolf
The Deal: Chefs from 10 cities will participate in the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America virtual dinner next month. Laser Wolf chef Andrew Henshaw will be repping Philly with a three-course takeout meal filled out by hummus and pita with salatim, alongside grilled mains like Moroccan chicken with apricot, chickpea and pickled chiles; lamb neck with glazed onions, date, and harif; and a vegan option. The at-home spread comes with wine and Rabbit Hole whiskey.
Where: Pickup from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Laser Wolf (1301 N. Howard Street)
Dates: Sunday, March 21; the virtual presentation starts at 8 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $95 or $175 for two, with proceeds helping independent restaurants get through the pandemic.
The Deal: Parks on Tap, the traveling beer garden popping up in Philly parks since 2016, starts pouring inside the Fairmount Horticulture Center Arboretum on Friday, January 22. Following Philly’s recent return to indoor dining, Parks on Tap’s inaugural indoor residency occupies a 30,000-square-foot lush greenhouse. Local beers on tap, wine, and cocktails like a warm apply toddy and spiked hot chocolate join backyard eats like brisket platters, pork belly sliders, cole slaw, hot dogs, and nachos. FCM Hospitality (Morgan’s Pier, Harper’s Garden, Craft Hall) runs Parks on Tap, and a portion of proceeds goes back to the city’s parks.
Where: Fairmount Horticulture Center Arboretum, 100 N. Horticultural Drive
Dates: Opening Friday, January 22, at 4 p.m.; hours are Wednesday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
Soul & Busan
The Deal: Architect and at-home chef Jenn Kim pulls flavors from her parents’ native Seoul and Busan to debut a new Korean pop-up in Philly dubbed Soul & Busan. Dishes include Miggy’s K-fried chicken sandwich, korokke (potato croquettes), bulgogi beef bowls, and grilled spicy pork over rice with spring onions.
Evil Genius Beer Company
The Deal: The Fishtown brewer debuts two pop-up locations in Philly’s Center City and NoLibs, designed to help keep employees on payroll for the next few months. Liquid inventory for its inaugural weekend includes Stacy’s Mom: Citra IPA, Purple Monkey Dishwasher: Chocolate PB Porter, Santa! I Know Him!: Festive Saison, Turtle Power: Grapefruit Pale Ale, and Konami Code: Double IPA.
Where: Evil Genius Center City (1602 Spruce Street) and Evil Genius NoLibs (702 N 2nd Street)
Dates: Thursday to Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday until 5 p.m.
Rock Salt by MilkBoy
The Deal: MilkBoy, the iconic Philly brand that includes a renowned recording studio in Northern Liberties, bars, and music venues, flips its four-year-old MilkBoy South Street into a music-infused streetery dubbed Rock Salt. The festive, wintertime pop-up, flanked with twinkling lights, holiday decor, gold and platinum records, and a heat lamp for every table, slings hot cocktails and cheesesteaks from neighbor Jim’s Steaks. Drinks include hot buttered rum, “Rock ‘n’ Rye Toddy” (Rock and Rye, honey, lemon, clove) and a “Boilo” — a traditional Western Pennsylvania coal miner concoction with whiskey, lemon, orange, allspice berries, cinnamon, raisins, and clover honey.
Where: 401 S. Street
Dates: Monday through Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; MilkBoy Philly at 11th and Chestnut plans to reopen next spring
Cost: Cocktails start at $12
Rival Bros’ Holiday Pop-Up Market
The Deal: The local roaster closed its Spruce Street doors this spring, but a holiday pop-up market just debuted in its place. Offerings include to-go brewed coffee, retail bags of its coffee, loose leaf tea bags, and a selection of Rival Bros merchandise, along with eats from Side Project Jerky. New Liberty Distillery spirits for sale include its Kinsey whiskey line and other Millstone Spirits offerings. Peruse the online store beforehand for quicker pickup.
Where: 1528 Spruce Street
Dates: Saturday, December 12 through the end of the month, daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Après-Ski at The Good King Tavern
The Deal: Philly’s French-inspired pub transports diners to the European alps on weekends starting Saturday, December 12. Warm, gooey raclette and vin chaud (mulled wine) join new options like a breakfast sandwich and a cheesy French hot dog all winter long. Le Caveau, the tavern’s temporarily closed wine bar upstairs, will pop up as a bottle shop below with prices starting under $20.
Where: The Good King Tavern, 614 S. 7th Street
Dates: Winter hours are Thursday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends from noon to 9 p.m., with takeout and delivery via DoorDash. There’s also outdoor dining inside insulated pods outfitted with infrared wall-mounted heaters, plus patio and street seating.
Primary Plant Based
The Deal: Longtime Philly chef (and vegan) Mark McKinney just debuted a Asian-influenced vegan pop-up out of his Khyber Pass Pub in Old City. Sweet potato toast, billed as a riff on shrimp toast, features water chestnuts, flax, ginger, scallion, sesame, and crispy unbun gluten free bread, finished with sweet and sour sumac chile sauce. Other seasonal selections include spicy peanut mole noodles and baked churro doughnuts with chocolate ganache. McKinney, who’s known for his vegan burger at Royal Tavern, is also executive chef at Cantina Los Caballitos, Cantina Dos Segundos, and Triangle Tavern. He’s teaming up with Stephen Simons (Royal Boucherie and Royal Sushi & Izakaya) on the new meatless and dairy-free venture.
Where: Khyber Pass Pub (56 S. Second Street) for takeout and delivery via DoorDash
Dates: Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Deal: Brooklyn-born baker Alex Malamy brings his small-batch spheres to West Philly every Sunday (or so). The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Michael Klein describes his word-of-mouth carbs as “lavishly topped, dense on the inside, crunchy on the outside, with a distinctive swirl that shows where the dough was joined by hand.” Dodo Bagels’ quirky spin on an everything bagel — dubbed a “Frenchthing” — is piled with sesame, fennel, lavender, thyme, and salt. Last Sunday he slathered the spheres with cream cheese made with local dairy, topping it all off with housemade red caviar from Bristol Bay, Alaska. Production is handled at Pitruco Pizza in University City.
Dates: Check Instagram and its website for pop-up intel
The Deal: Honduras native and Lost Bread Co. alum Ana Caballero spearheads a weekly tamale pop-up that supports Philly’s Latino chef community. All proceeds go directly to the cooks, who rotate weekly along with the menu. Tamales are made with fresh masa, nixtamalized and milled by the team at Cadence Restaurant.
Where: Check its website for updates on pickup points at places like Lost Bread Co., Rival Bro’s Coffee, and Jezebel’s Cafe
Dates: Every Sunday until 2 p.m.
The Yurt Villages at Zahav
The Deal: American Express and Resy roll out a heated dining experience (for American Express cardholders only) at 13 top U.S. restaurants, including Philly’s James Beard Award-winning restaurant Zahav. Four-person custom “yurts” will dot the covered patio in the Israeli restaurant’s back courtyard. Star chef Mike Solomonov and chef de cuisine Chelsey Conrad’s prix fixe menu includes a warm Turkish hummus, which makes a Zahav comeback for the first time since March; sweet potatoes with French onion labneh and caviar; haloumi with dates, apples and walnuts; chraime, a North African tomato-pepper and fish stew; and Turkish coffee mousse.
Where: Zahav; 237 St James Place
Dates: Starting Thursday, December 3, through Sunday, February 28
Cost: $90 per person (plus tax and 20% service charge); book here
The Beauty Princess at the Igloos
The Deal: Glu Hospitality’s Germantown Garden Grille in Northern Liberties expands upon its family-friendly dining series during the pandemic with a Beauty and the Beast-themed wintertime brunch. The open-air steakhouse pivoted this year from a pool club to host of a fairy tale pop-up brunch series put on by A Dash of Magic Events. Reservations for its poolside igloos come with a photo opp, personal visit by a dressed-up princess, souvenir, activity sheets, and a holiday dessert. Brunch and hot beverages for both kids and adults are a la carte.
Where: Germantown Garden Grille, 1029 Germantown Avenue
Dates: “Kids’ Countdown to New Year’s Eve with Cinderella at the Igloos” is Thursday, December 31; Saturdays in January call for “Brunch with the Snow Queen” and “Belle Brunch: The Beauty Princess at the Igloos.”
Cost: Tickets are $15 per person for igloos (limited to family members only) and $10 per person for outdoor seating; a portion of sales will fund princess appearances through the Salvation Army.