3 Atlanta pop-ups to put on your calendar

A customer places an order at Osono Bread, which pops up at Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A customer places an order at Osono Bread, which pops up at Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

The pandemic has served the pop-up model well. These roving restaurants, bakeries, taquerias and supper clubs allow chefs to try out nascent ideas and passion projects at a reduced cost, and with flexible hours. Here are three worth checking out.

At a recent pop-up dinner at Silver Queen restaurant in Monroe,  La Chingana chef Arnaldo Castillo served this Peruvian causa, layered with purple potato, avocado, white potato and shrimp salad. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At a recent pop-up dinner at Silver Queen restaurant in Monroe, La Chingana chef Arnaldo Castillo served this Peruvian causa, layered with purple potato, avocado, white potato and shrimp salad. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

La Chingana

When the chef brought out his Peruvian causa — a stunning, chilled three-layer creation with whipped purple potatoes, avocado and white potatoes, topped with shrimp salad, cherry tomatoes and edible flowers — the crowd swooned.

When he told them the salad dressing contained Duke’s mayo, they chuckled.

I was just two dishes in to chef Arnaldo Castillo’s La Chingana pop-up dinner at Silver Queen restaurant in Monroe, and I was hooked.

Peruvian food is hard to come by in Atlanta. Now, the Peru-born Castillo, who was executive chef at Minero before going solo with Chingana, wants to change that. Based on his four-course dinner — a salad with quinoa, beans, feta, olives and herbs; braised beef with beans and a custardy tamale verde; strawberry cheesecake tart; and the causa — I’ll be paying attention to his ventures.

He’s got the culinary chops, and a convincing backstory, too. As a high school senior, he waited tables at his dad’s short-lived, 100 percent Peruvian restaurant, Inka’s Grill, on Buford Highway. “I remembered he traveled to North Carolina to purchase a gas rotisserie oven to make Peruvian pollo a la brasa,” Castillo said.

Castillo (Pura Vida, Little Trouble, Empire State South) wants to stick with bar food from Lima (butifarra and pan con chicharron sandwiches, for example) and hearty classics from his mother’s hometown of Piura. And, he wants to show that ceviche “can be more than a dip.”

He’ll be at Gato on June 22, and he’ll celebrate National Ceviche Day at Elsewhere Brewing on June 28. “I’ll be doing a traditional ceviche, for sure, using whatever fish is freshest, sweet potato, cancha corn, and a variety of leche de tigre,” Castillo said. “I’ll also be doing a tiradito style, which is more about focusing on the fish and less on the side components.”

Various places and times. instagram.com/chingana.atl.

ExploreThese metro Atlanta pop-ups offer everything from lobster rolls to vegan tacos
A recent Monday night pop-up saw Happy Seed serving, among other things, a spring salad with strawberries, nachos, guacamole and sikil p’ak, and a toasted pumpkin salsa with Mayan roots. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A recent Monday night pop-up saw Happy Seed serving, among other things, a spring salad with strawberries, nachos, guacamole and sikil p’ak, and a toasted pumpkin salsa with Mayan roots. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Happy Seed

Nachos for dinner? Count me in.

I’d heard good things about Reid Trapani and Sophia Marchese’s Happy Seed, which has been serving Mexican vegan cuisine on Monday nights at A mano for about a year now. Careful to show up on time, lest they sell out, I was greeted by a line of devotees eager for crunch wraps (made with seitan beef); sopes (with seitan asada); and a gorgeous spring salad of arugula, strawberries, beets, avocado, pickled watermelon radish and pistachio fresco.

The food was beautiful, fresh and quite delicious. I especially was taken by sikil p’ak, a zingy toasted pumpkin seed salsa of Mayan origin.

Marchese and Trapani are engaged, and she told me that they are self-taught. Before Happy Seed, he worked in restaurants, and she as a private chef. “I’m half Cuban, and that’s really what inspired us to start cooking Latin food,” she explained. “We began exploring how to make plant-based versions of nostalgic dishes from my childhood, which eventually led to a desire to re-create some of our favorite Latin dishes outside of Cuban cuisine.”

The menu changes weekly, with some fan faves reappearing regularly. Order in person, and your food will come out packaged and ready to take home, or to eat at A mano’s inviting outdoor spaces.

5-8 p.m. Mondays at A mano, 587 Ralph McGill Blvd. NE, Atlanta. happyseed.kitchen.

Osono Bread produced this country sour bread and two filled doughnuts, including one with horchata (on the plate) and one with cardamom. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Osono Bread produced this country sour bread and two filled doughnuts, including one with horchata (on the plate) and one with cardamom. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Osono Bread

Betsy Gonzalez brings her extensive European bread-baking skills to Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays, where’ll you’ll find regulars waiting to grab artisan loaves and doughnuts.

You may have a wait of a few minutes, so you might want to use that opportunity to quiz the people around you about their pastry preferences. (The woman behind me said she’s a big fan of the soft, brioche-like milk bread, for making sandwiches or toast.)

Gonzalez is fully transparent in her sourcing of Southern flours, and she bakes bread from Carolina Ground and Lindley Mills flours, in particular.

Emmer fruit and nut, seedy rye, honey oat and polenta all sound divine to me. I ended up with a very good loaf of country sour, which freezes well, and a couple of the filled doughnuts, which apparently are a social-media sensation. I loved my horchata and cardamom doughnuts, and I am excited to think what Gonzalez will do with Georgia peaches.

9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays at Grant Park Farmers Market, 1015 Grant St. SE, Atlanta. osonobread.com.

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