Some of the best places to get unexpected meals and snacks in and around Boston are not quite permanent. Pop-ups are happening with increasing frequency, and the Greater Boston area has seen the growth of several crowd favorites over the years, some of which have even gone on to find permanent locations (think Oisa Ramen, which just opened its Downtown Boston restaurant, and Bagelsaurus, the ever-crowded Cambridge bagel shop.)
Here’s a breakdown of some of the ongoing pop-ups in the area, including a mix of those that are anchored to specific days and locations as well as those that jump around from place to place.
This guide will be updated periodically. Something missing? Email email@example.com.
The Angry Donut
North Shore, with a Newburyport shop in the works
Founder Tom Quill specializes in scratch-made brioche doughnuts, which he and “doughnut decorator extraordinaire” Alex Crisham started selling in June 2016 at the Essex farmers market. Lately, Quill and baker Jill Passen have been baking up doughnuts out of Kitchen Local in Amesbury and popping up around the North Shore, especially at breweries, while successfully completing a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the Angry Donut’s transition into a permanent location at 38 Washington St. in Newburyport. (It could open as soon as February 2018.)
How to find the Angry Donut: Keep an eye on the Angry Donut’s website, which has an event calendar, or contact Quill to inquire about private orders. The Angry Donut is also active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And stay tuned for the imminent opening of the storefront.
Basic Batch Donuts
South End, Boston
Run by Bar Mezzana’s pastry chef Christina Larson, Basic Batch Donuts pops up once a month at the South End restaurant with filled and unfilled doughnuts. Past flavors have ranged from “Glutes with the Fur,” a gluten-free yeast version with strawberry frosting and coconut, to “Witch Better Have My Candy,” glazed with peanut butter and topped with chocolate-covered pretzels.
How to find Basic Batch Donuts: So far, it’s been tied specifically to Bar Mezzana (360 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston). Per a January 8 Instagram post, Larson is “still recovering from the holidays” but will begin popping up again at the restaurant in spring 2018 — but stay tuned for a “surprise pop-up” before then. Follow Basic Batch Donuts on Instagram for updates.
Mass Hole Donuts
Arlington, Roxbury, and beyond
Employing an endearing term used to describe Massachusetts residents, Peter Gladstone and Alex Mansfield have created a new pop-up dedicated to doughnut holes. The specialty brioche balls come in assorted flavors inspired by Boston. So far, Mass Hole Donuts has popped up several times at the Local Fare in Arlington and has a Bully Boys event in the works as well.
How to find Mass Hole Donuts: Details for events will be shared on the Mass Hole Donuts Instagram page.
Beverly and elsewhere on the North Shore
Beverly is sufficiently doughy thanks to the artistic stylings of Speakeasy Donuts, a recurring pop-up in the area. The business is known for its elaborate doughnut designs — note its Little Shop of Horrors-inspired creations from October and more recent Krampus doughnuts — and some of its doughnuts include boozy ingredients.
How to find Speakeasy Donuts: The pop-up posts doughnut box offers on its Facebook events page, with a schedule of availability and details on the themes of each box and where to pick up the sugary parcels. Plus, it shows up at a variety of North Shore breweries.
Other Baked Goods and Sweets
Baked goods and sandwiches make an excellent pairing at this weekend pop-up in Brookline Village. Breadboard serves up croissants, kolaches, and “wacky cake” to Brookline sandwich shop Cutty’s, which customers can get starting around 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. And Cutty’s is no stranger to hosting pop-ups; it was the birthplace of Bagelsaurus, which now has a permanent space in Cambridge.
How to find Breadboard Bakery: Head to Cutty’s on Friday and Saturday mornings (284 Washington St., Brookline Village), and keep an eye on Instagram and Twitter for updates.
Gâté Comme des Filles
Camberville and beyond
With a home in Somerville’s Food Hub at Aeronaut Brewery and a forthcoming storefront in Union Square’s Bow Market, Gâté Comme des Filles is no stranger to the pop-up life. Founder Alexandra Whisnant has appeared all over the city with her chocolates, including at Formaggio, Aeronaut’s Allston beer garden, and Central Bottle Wine + Provisions. Currently, Gâté Comme des Filles and Somerville Chocolate are popping up at Lizzy’s Ice Cream (29 Church St., Cambridge) until February 28, 2018.
How to find Gâté Comme des Filles: Keep an eye on the company’s website for information about where to find the chocolate. Plus, watch for upcoming events for Hikōki Cafe, Whisnant’s coffee, tea, and snack-oriented pop-up cafe.
Chunky cookies galore appear at this weekly weekend pop-up in Salem. The duo behind the cookie concept, Erik Sayce and Jennifer Pullen, popped up on Friday and Saturday nights at coffee shops and breweries around Salem before securing a regular space for the appearances on Higginson Square, in the center of town. Fans of Goodnight Fatty can also put in a request for a pop-up.
How to find Goodnight Fatty: Swing by Higginson Square (in the alley between Rockafellas and Ledger) between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday, and keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for updates.
Malden, Randolph, Westport, and beyond, with a Somerville storefront on the way
This producer of delightful macarons will get a permanent home in Somerville’s Bow Market. Owner Tamy Chung currently vends at farmers markets and pop-ups in addition to offering custom orders and stocking her wares at several shops around Greater Boston. Her macarons take on the form of everything from pineapples to corgis, and even in giant (4-inch or 6-inch) form, as cakes.
How to find Maca macaronerie: Chung’s macarons are available at Cha Shu in Malden, Bambu in Randolph, and Gray’s Daily Grind in Westport. She also fulfills orders via her online store and lists pop-up locations on her website.
The Parlor Ice Cream Co.
Boston, Portland, and beyond
Jacqueline Dole produces small-batch ice cream and has popped up at numerous restaurants, cafes, and breweries around Boston, including Cambridge’s Lamplighter Brewing Company, Trillium’s Canton location, Allston’s Continuum building, and more. Dole also offers catering for private events and has begun distributing pints to a variety of markets in the Boston and Portland areas.
How to find the Parlor Ice Cream Co.: Keep an eye on the events section of Parlor’s website, as well as Instagram and Twitter, for event announcements.
With a track record of providing pop-up support and its own history as a pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar, Bagelsaurus (1796 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge) plays host to a couple pop-ups. Vinal Bakery shows up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, bringing various flavors of English muffins into the bagel shop. Past flavors have included plain, everything, multigrain, and apple, and founder/Bagelsaurus employee Sarah Murphy even brought scones into the mix for a pop-up at Longfellows and Lamplighter in Cambridge.
How to find Vinal Bakery: Head to Bagelsaurus on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and check out Vinal’s Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates.
Roslindale and beyond
What started as a bagel (and bagel sandwich) pop-up at the Roslindale farmers market quickly grew into a crowd favorite, and now owners Adam Hirsh and Priscilla Andrade are preparing to open a permanent location in Jamaica Plain in winter 2018. In the meantime, they’re serving up bagels out of their commissary space in Roslindale (2 McCraw St.) several days a week. Eventually that space’ll also become a retail storefront if all goes as planned.
How to find Exodus Bagels: Exodus updates its social media channels religiously; check Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for news. Throughout January 2018, pick up bagels and cream cheese several mornings a week at the Roslindale space.
Seaport District and beyond
This pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar introduced its first permanent location in the Seaport this fall, with a sell-out crowd on opening day. But it’s got a spot on the pop-up guide because it plans to resume pop-ups once the shop is a bit more up and running, and it also continues to supply several local coffee shops and restaurants with bagels, including 1369 Coffee House, Bourbon Coffee, North Square Oyster, Mike & Patty’s, the Tip Tap Room, and others.
How to find Better Bagels: The brick-and-mortar shop is at 83A Seaport Blvd. in Boston’s Seaport District, and it’s open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Keep an eye on the pop-ups page of the website for news of future pop-ups, and find wholesale locations here.
Back Alley Bacon
If a red lantern is lit on Liberty Street in Salem, secretive pop-up Back Alley Bacon is open and serving a different pork-based dish each week. The pop-up operates under strict rules, by which customers must appear at the door, ring an intercom, and provide a secret code word to procure the special pork dish of the day. Back Alley Bacon posts its code words on social media ahead of time, and once the initial transaction is complete, customers will have pork in their hands in about eight minutes. The operation is cash only, usually for $11 (exact change), and happens on Wednesday nights.
How to find Back Alley Bacon: Look for the aforementioned red light on Liberty Street in Salem on Wednesday evenings; keep an eye on Facebook for information about hours and the week’s offering and code word.
With several summer appearances at The Frogmore in Jamaica Plain, Bellport Lane served several small dishes, including popcorn with uni butter and roasted nori; a pizzetta with tomato and eggplant; and moules frites. The pop-up hasn’t been back since August, but keep an eye out for its return.
How to find Bellport Lane: Watch Facebook for updates.
Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen
Brighton and beyond
While in the midst of preparing a permanent brewpub in Brighton, founders Alex Corona and Jonathan Gilman are popping up at various breweries around the Boston area, in addition to offering catering services for hire. The Brato concept emphasizes the complementary elements of food and beer, and its menus feature items like sausages, pickles, house-made bread, and grilled cheese, alongside beer.
How to find Brato Brewhouse & Kitchen: Check out Brato’s Facebook page for the latest details on upcoming pop-up events.
Somerville and beyond
Melissa Stefanini and Sebastian Galvez (aka Nini and Bass) craft little pockets stuffed full of veggies and meats, and topped with house-made sauces. They’re in the process of setting up a shop in Somerville’s forthcoming Bow Market.
How to find Buenas: Buenas empanadas are available for take-away at various vendors around Boston. Check their Facebook events page for pop-up news, and look out for the forthcoming shop at Bow Market.
East Boston Oysters
A super secret series in East Boston changes locations, and you have to be clued in (read: on the mailing list) to find out where to go. The dinners involve collaboration with “local chefs, farmers, artists, brewers, wine geeks, cocktail magicians + hospitality rockstars,” and the specific details are released ahead of each dinner.
How to find East Boston Oysters: Join the mailing list to get alerts about the dinners, which tend to sell out quickly.
Somerville, North Shore, and beyond
With consistent appearances around the Boston area since 2015, Jaju Pierogi will finally get a home of its own in Somerville’s forthcoming Bow Market. Owners Casey and Vanessa White are sisters, and they specialize in handmade pierogi, which are Eastern European-style dumplings stuffed with potato and cheese, along with other fillings.
How to find Jaju Pierogi: Jaju regularly pops up at Lamplighter in Cambridge and lists its events on its website. Jaju Pierogi can also be found at various retailers in the area.
JP Beer Garden
Jamaica Plain and beyond
Owen Royce-Nagel and Lizzie Szczepaniak launched the JP Beer Garden several years ago and have since appeared all over the city with some German-inspired offerings, including items like pretzels with homemade Bavarian mustard, chicken schnitzel sliders, and brats, among other items. Their most recent pop-up at Townsman featured beers from local breweries. The pair is looking to take their operation permanent, and they’re in the midst of looking for a location.
How to find JP Beer Garden: Stay tuned to the website for updates on new events.
Kaki Lima at KO Pies
Chef Retno Pratiwi and partner Peter Gelling made their return to KO Pies at the Shipyard on January 18, 2018, with a small menu of Indonesian street food available alongside KO’s usual Australian meat pie menu. Kaki Lima has previously appeared at the East Boston restaurant, in addition to completing a four-month residency at Wink & Nod’s culinary incubator in the South End and heading west for pop-ups in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland.
How to find Kaki Lima: Look for a limited menu from Kaki Lima at KO Pies at the Shipyard from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, mid-January 2018 until some point in the spring.
South End and beyond
Jeff Gabel runs the Kitchen Kibitz pop-up, which focuses on modern Jewish cuisine. Gabel partners with chefs around Boston to adopt a theme for each appearance, and past dishes range from shakshuka with grilled lamb sausage to smoked potato and eggplant with zhug.
How to find Kitchen Kibitz: Upcoming pop-ups are posted online.
Arlington and beyond
Graham Boswell, a former baker at Taco Party in Somerville and current cook at Oleana, runs a vegan pop-up that appears at the Local Fare in Arlington and elsewhere around Greater Boston, including at Lamplighter Brewing Company in Cambridge. The menu includes veggie burgers, smaller vegetable dishes, and desserts. Takeout is recommended for pop ups at the Local Fare, as there is limited seating.
How to find Littleburg: Event details are listed on Facebook.
Meadowlark Butcher & Grocer
Chelsea and beyond
Butcher Max Gitlen eventually plans to open a whole animal butcher shop, but in the meantime, he’s popping up with his sustainable homemade sausages at various breweries in the Boston area, as Boston Magazine notes. The sausages themselves are made with the less desirable cuts of different meats, blended to emphasize certain flavors. Pop-ups feature items like scallion and five-spice chicken sausage, porchetta Italian sausage, and cheddar beer bratwurst.
How to find Meadowlark: Check Facebook for details on upcoming events.
From chef Rachel Miller, along with sommelier Sarah Marshall and Cafe ArtScience’s pastry chef Giselle Miller, Nightshade draws influences from Vietnamese cuisine and uses ingredients sourced from local producers. A previous appearance at Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem featured four courses, including a white gazpacho, a fish course, and an ice cream pop for dessert.
How to find Nightshade: The dinners are currently taking place the last Sunday of each month at Soall Bistro, with information available on the Nightshade website.
Friday is pizza day at Bagelsaurus in Porter Square. Dan and Erinn Roberts run the pop-up, and each week there are three rotating versions of square pizzas. Depending on what’s in season, Rabottini’s will use ingredients from Waltham Fields Community Farm, where Erinn works.
How to find Rabottini’s: Visit Bagelsaurus on Fridays. Pies come out at noon and are available until sell-out or close.
Roslindale and beyond
Avi Shemtov, of the Chubby Chickpea food truck, and Jeff Gabel, of the aforementioned Kitchen Kibitz pop-up series, debuted Simcha in October in Roslindale. The pop-up features contemporary Israeli cuisine, including items like smoked goat blintzes with sweet cheese and cherry gastrique, eight-hour baked lamb belly cassoulet with heritage pork sausage, and milk and honey burrata with smoked persimmons. Simcha has also appeared in Canton and is headed for Wink & Nod in Boston’s South End next.
How to find Simcha: Follow online for updates.