Metro Atlanta pop-ups to check out for Philippine food, poutine, seafood, and more

A dish from the menu of Filipino pop-up Barangay / Courtesy of Daniel Berkowitz

Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Berkowitz

Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Berkowitz

A dish from the menu of Filipino pop-up Barangay / Courtesy of Daniel Berkowitz

Gabriel Tungol’s Philippine pop-up, Barangay (instagram.com/barangayatl), hasn’t even hit the two-year mark, but its loyal following helped land Tungol’s recipe for twice-cooked adobo wings among the dishes prepared at Atlanta’s inaugural Michelin Guide announcement event.

“It was surreal in the best way,” he said of the event, where Bold Catering prepared dishes using recipes from local pop-up chefs. “It was so much fun.”

The event was an especially impressive get for Tungol, who had dabbled at home making the traditional Philippine dishes of his childhood, but didn’t consider turning it into a business until he relocated with his wife and young daughter from Portland, Oregon to Atlanta during the early days of the pandemic.

He quickly recognized a “pop-up community in Atlanta that I hadn’t seen anywhere else,” he said. “It was really exciting to me. It was like an entirely new model.” But before launching his own concept in early 2022, Tungol, who has a background in clinical research and public health, thought he would benefit from some time in a kitchen. For the next eight months, he worked part-time at Estrellita, a Philippine restaurant in Grant Park that was named to Michelin’s list of recommended restaurants.

In addition to his time at the restaurant, Tungol drew inspiration from the dishes he watched his father, a native of the Kapampangan region of the Philippines, make when he was growing up in rural northern Maine.

“He takes a lot of pride in the food he would make,” he said. “I grew up in a place where there wasn’t a lot else to offer in the way of gastronomy. Almost all the eating I did was at home, and that was almost exclusively Filipino food.”

During his formative years, Tungol’s identity was in many ways shaped by the food he ate, and he began cooking himself when he was 10. But he didn’t take it seriously until he got to college and started reading books on Philippine cuisine and got more exposure to other cuisines while living in Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Barangay’s menu was developed and inspired by his experience at Estrellita, the dishes he ate growing up and the experimentation he did over the years while cooking on his own.

Tungol’s food, which he sells at breweries and festivals, generally falls into one of two categories. There are the “unadapted, unabridged and unadulterated classics that are the equivalent of what was on my family’s table,” he said. One of those dishes is burong isda, made with fermented rice and raw fish cooked with aromatics.

And then there are the dishes “at the other end of the spectrum, dishes that are an amalgamation of Filipino food in terms of the ingredients, textures and preparation, but are interpolated with things I’ve come to love and eat whenever I can,” he said. The wings served at the Michelin event are an example of a fusion dish, in addition to inihaw na baboy, marinated grilled pork that Tungol smokes with cherrywood, a nod to his love of the barbecue of the American South.

He’s encouraged by the attention Philippine food has received of late (in addition to Estrellita, Buford Highway Philippine concept Kamayan was also recently recognized by Michelin), and is grateful to the restaurants and pop-ups that “knocked down doors that allowed me to take a swing at something like this.” Collaborating with other pop-ups, including barbecue business Secret Pint and Seven Fingers Baked Goods, has allowed him to both make connections in the pop-up community and flex his creative muscles.

Though Tungol has found success with Barangay as a pop-up, he’s considering the future of the concept and whether he wants to expand it (he also devotes time to running the gym he still owns in Portland). For now, he appreciates “the agility, flexibility and freedom” that pop-ups allow.

“The evolution I’d like to see is a ceaseless creativity on my end and a continued passion for exploring crevices and corners not yet explored by what I can do on purely the food end,” he said.

Tony Jackson serves up poutine at a Pat's Poutine pop-up. / Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

Credit: Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

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Credit: Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

Pat’s Poutine

Tony Parker grew up in Atlanta, but he traveled often to Canada to visit family. The Great White North is where he met and fell in love with his wife, and where he discovered poutine, the traditional Canadian dish that sees fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.

About three years ago, Jackson turned his affection for the comfort food classic into a business. Pat’s Poutine, named for his “firecracker” mother, has done close to 300 pop-ups at breweries and festivals around Atlanta, and provided catering for film and television productions including “Stranger Things.”

Parker, who has a marketing background, wasn’t always a natural cook, but when it came time to develop recipes for Pat’s Poutine (patspoutine.com), he felt at ease in the kitchen.

“I’ll burn grits, but I can cook the best poutine in the world,” Parker said. “This is something I’ve been eating forever, and when you’ve been eating something for that long, you can gauge whether it’s good or not.”

He used his mother-in-law’s gravy recipe as a basis for what eventually became Pat’s signature sauce, and later added a vegetarian version made with mushrooms and also makes a gluten-free gravy for catering gigs. He offers six flavors of cheese curds sourced from creameries across the country: white cheddar, yellow cheddar, garlic and dill, smoke, pepper, and pizza.

Parker is particularly proud of what he calls his twice-fried “perfect” fries, which are “crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, so when you pour gravy on it, you avoid soggy fries.”

Pat's Poutine pops up regularly at breweries and festivals around metro Atlanta. / Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

Credit: Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

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Credit: Courtesy of Pat's Poutine

A new addition to the Pat’s menu is the Beaver Ball, a variation on a popular Canadian treat called a Beaver Tail that features beignet balls topped with cinnamon and sugar.

While Parker plans to pop-up with Pat’s Poutine around metro Atlanta indefinitely, he also has big plans for the brand. In addition to opening a brick-and-mortar location in the first half of 2024, he’s working on franchising Pat’s, with the aim of going nationwide with the concept. He’s also launched Pat’s Promise, the charitable arm of Pat’s Poutine that benefits those in the autistic community in honor of his son, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

While many of Pat’s customers are native Canadians, Parker said the majority of his customers are Amercians, many of whom are trying poutine for the first time.

“That’s the beauty of this, he said. “We wave the Canadian flag everywhere and do all the Canadian events around town. But we have American customers who drive 20, 30 minutes for our food, and we also have customers who we’ve gotten to introduce to poutine, which we love. We’re introducing this great dish to America.”

Cedricka Stone of ATL Seafood / Courtesy of ATL Seafood

Credit: Courtesy of ATL Seafood

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Credit: Courtesy of ATL Seafood

ATL Seafood

Cedricka Stone found her calling, like many people, during the pandemic. She felt isolated after giving birth and having to quarantine, and remembered the comfort she got from cooking Louisiana-style food with her mother and grandmother growing up.

“Cooking was the only thing that made me feel good,” Atlanta native Stone said. She started making seafood boils for her friends that were so well-received that she started thinking she might have the makings of a business.

The former nurse started popping up as ATL Seafood Bags in 2020 at festivals and breweries including Atlantucky Brewing in Castleberry Hill, and changed the business name to simply ATL Seafood (atlseafood.com).

Over the years, Stone gained enough of a following that she recently landed a residency taking over the kitchen MBar Ultra Lounge and its upstairs neighbor Royal Peacock Lounge at 186 Auburn Ave. NE. Guests will find ATL Seafood’s boils, fried fish baskets and wings, plus specials like gumbo and jambalaya.

The menu also features some signature items including a seafood roll, an egg roll stuffed with crab, shrimp and mozzarella cheese, as well as fried broccoli and crawfish bread. With her added kitchen space, she’s added dishes like a cajun chicken pastas and a creole Caesar salad, and hopes to start offering vegan specials in the coming weeks.

While Stone plans to eventually open her own brick-and-mortar, she said she’s enjoying making new connections and learning how to operate a restaurant with consistent hours.

ATL Seafood’s hours at MBar are noon-8 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays and noon-3 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays.

Niki Gavahi (right) and her mother, Dokhi. of Knead to Savor /

Credit: Courtesy of Knead to Savor

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Credit: Courtesy of Knead to Savor

Knead to Savor

Niki Gavahi grew up in an Iranian family where hosting large dinner parties was the norm. She loved spending time in the kitchen with her mother, Dokhi, watching her bake traditional Persian desserts.

“It’s where we would bond,” she said. “We’d cook together, drink tea and gossip. It’s always been a passion of mine. My therapy was always being in the kitchen.”

In 2021, Gavahi was pushed by a friend to turn her love of baking into a business, and Knead to Savor (kneadtosavor.com) was born. The pop-up incorporates her mother’s traditional Persian recipes for both sweet and savory baked goods including baklava and barbari, a flatbread made with black and white sesame seeds and fenugreek.

Rosettes from Knead to Savor / Courtesy of Knead to Savor

Credit: Courtesy of Knead to Savor

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Credit: Courtesy of Knead to Savor

Gavahi also uses her mother’s recipes as a jumping-off point for fusion-style baked goods, including chocolate chip-cardamom cookies and baklava cake, which folds in ingredients like rosewater, cardamom and pistachios.

Knead to Savor pops up regularly at farmers markets and takes custom orders online, and on Oct. 7 will compete in Dessert Wars, a baking competition at Cobb Galleria Centre, where she plans to showcase rosettes, a treat topped with powdered sugar and cardamom she describes as akin to “the days when you would go to the fair and have a funnel cake.”

While Gavahi — who still maintains her day job at her family’s rug and antique galleries — dreams of one day opening a cafe and coffee shop stocked with treats from Knead to Savor, in the meantime she’s enjoying being part of the Atlanta pop-up community and being back in the kitchen with her mom.

“I’ve found my spark in life, and I’m excited about it,” she said. “I’ve gotten more back from it than I put in.”

Mayra Peralta of vegan Mexican pop-up Calaveritas. / Courtesy of Calaveritas

Credit: Courtesy of Calaveritas

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Credit: Courtesy of Calaveritas

Calaveritas

It was a longing for the dishes of her childhood that led Mayra Peralta to start her pop-up, Calaveritas (calaveritasvegancuisine.com). The native of Mexico, who moved to Atlanta as a child, decided to adopt a plant-based diet in 2017 but quickly realized she missed staples including pozole and tamales.

“I really hated that I couldn’t still eat those things,” she said. “I started asking my mom, ‘How do you make this, how do you make that?’ At the time, there weren’t as many vegan products as there are now, so I had to get creative with it.”

Peralta started researching and experimenting, eventually perfecting recipes for plant-based quesadillas, tacos and burritos. Her vegan proteins mimic meats traditionally used in Mexican food, including al pastor made with soy meat and pineapple and carnitas made with oyster mushrooms.

Tacos from vegan Mexican pop-up Calaveritas. / Courtesy of Calaveritas

Credit: Courtesy of Calaveritas

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Credit: Courtesy of Calaveritas

Since launching in 2019, Calaveritas has popped up regularly at breweries around metro Atlanta and has taken over a space at the Met in Adair Park every Friday for more than a year. Calaveritas’ success has allowed Peralta to expand with the purchase of a food trailer and a full-time spot at PREP Kitchen in Chamblee, which will officially open in October and will allow her to add items to the menu. Those will include vegan churros and Cali-style burritos and sandwiches.

Though she plans to get back into doing regular pop-ups in 2024, she’s excited to have a place to connect regularly with her customer base, many of whom, like her, are members of the Latino community who missed eating the food they grew up with.

Tony Kerr of Tony's / Courtesy of Tony's

Credit: Courtesy of Tony's

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Credit: Courtesy of Tony's

Tony’s

Tony’s (instagram.com/tonys_atl) is relatively new to the Atlanta pop-up scene, having just launched in November 2022. But in less than a year, Tony Kerr has developed a large following for his Chicago-style dishes, including hot dogs (hold the ketchup, of course), burgers and Italian beef sandwiches (which have gotten a boost from the popularity of the Hulu series “The Bear”).

Kerr, a native Chicagoan who has been in the restaurant industry for the past decade, noticed a Windy City-shaped void when he moved to Atlanta with his fiancee.

Though Kerr took some culinary school classes when he was younger, he’s mostly self-taught, relying on his years growing up eating the dishes he cooks and experimenting in the kitchen to come up with his recipes.

Italian beef sandwich from Tony's / Courtesy of Tony's

Credit: Courtesy of Tony's

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Credit: Courtesy of Tony's

“I did a lot of research,” he said of creating the perfect Italian beef sandwich. “I watched all kinds of videos and combine them and get an idea of how to make it.”

He offers two varieties: the Ditka, a nod to the famed Chicago Bears coach which comes “hot, sweet and dipped,” and the Killer Kerr, an homage to his father, which arrives “sweet and dipped with cheese.” Both include pulled beef-style meat rather than sliced beef, though Kerr said once the meat is heated and dipped in au jus, they end up having the same texture. “To me, it’s all about capturing the flavor profile.”

He’s been popping up at breweries around metro Atlanta, with help along the way from other pop-up chefs including Ean Bancroft of Mother’s Best. Though he might one day aim to open a permanent location, he likes the pace of pop-ups.

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to go too fast, too soon,” Kerr said. “I want to stay a smaller entity for now, but even if we get a brick-and-mortar, my vision is still just a shack with a window, very old-school Chicago. Gotta keep it simple.”

Burritos from Jose Sucio / Courtesy of Jose Sucio

Credit: Courtesy of Jose Sucio

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Credit: Courtesy of Jose Sucio

Jose Sucio

Andre Gomez started burrito concept Jose Sucio (instagram.com/josesucio) as a retail concept during the pandemic while still running his Puerto Rican restaurant, Porch Light Latin Kitchen.

Gomez describes Jose Sucio, which translates in English to “Joe Dirt,” as a “fun guy who enjoys being around the people. He’s rough around the edges. He’s a character.”

Gomez sold his burritos to beer shop Stout Brothers to sell out of their stores, but turned his attention to the business full time after closing Porch Light in 2022.

Burritos from Jose Sucio / Courtesy of Jose Sucio

Credit: Courtesy of Jose Sucio

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Credit: Courtesy of Jose Sucio

Gomez continues to sell at Stout Brothers and pops up around metro Atlanta at breweries, including Scofflaw Brewing (he prepares his beer can chicken burrito with their Basement IPA). In addition to burritos, he’ll also sometimes pull out old Porch Light favorites at pop-ups, including can-can pork chops and malbec-braised short ribs.

His plan is to turn Jose Sucio into a wholesale business and potentially open a restaurant around the concept, but for now, he enjoys the opportunity to connect with people, which became more scarce after Porch Light closed.

“Pop-ups allow me to get back on the street and give the people what they want,” Gomez said. “I don’t miss the grind of the restaurant, but I do miss the people.”

Candy Hom, the founder of Soupbelly / Courtesy of Soupbelly

Credit: Courtesy of Soupbelly

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Credit: Courtesy of Soupbelly

Soupbelly

Long before she started a pop-up, Candy Hom entered the culinary scene as a food blogger. During COVID-19, people who watched her cook on social media asked her when she was going to start selling her dumplings, and Soupbelly (instagram.com/soupbelly_atl) was born.

Hom learned to cook Cantonese dishes from her mom, and many of the dishes she serves as pop-ups are riffs on the dishes she grew up with.

“I have the traditional pot stickers and dim sum, but I also like to create new dishes,” she said, including dumplings made with bacon cheeseburger and Buffalo chicken fillings.

Dishes from the menu of Soupbelly / Courtesy of Soupbelly

Credit: Courtesy of Soupbelly

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Credit: Courtesy of Soupbelly

Though dumplings are the core of her offerings, she also serves dishes like walnut shrimp, cold noodles and Cantonese salt and pepper fried chicken sandwich, and served an eight-course Chinese New Year pop-up banquet.

Hom, who previously worked as a graphic designer, mostly pops up at breweries and farmers markets and will make an appearance at Leftie Lee’s in Avondale Estates in December.

Though she said she might scale her business up “if the right opportunity presents itself,” she’s enjoying the perks of pop-up life, including collaborating with the chefs behind pop-ups Baolicious and Secret Pint BBQ.

“I’m proud that it’s a sustainable business as it is and that it’s something I can do consistently where I can have work-life balance,” Hom said.

Lindsay and Nebiyu Berhane of Sugar Loaf / Courtesy of Sugar Loaf

Credit: Courtesy of Sugar Loaf

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Credit: Courtesy of Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf

It was a shared love of dance that first brought Lindsay and Nebiyu Berhane together, and it was a shared love of food and cooking that sustained the couple during the pandemic and led to the pop-up that they consider their second act.

The Berhanes were living in New York and beginning to discuss what they wanted to do after sunsetting their dance careers when COVID-19 hit, and they were forced to kick those plans into high gear.

“We both had such a passion for cooking and baking instilled in us by our mothers,” Nebiyu Berhane said. The pair also picked up skills while working second jobs in restaurants and bakeries over the years to supplement their income while they danced, and started trying out their own recipes in their tiny Manhattan apartment.

They launched Sugar Loaf (sugarloafatl.com) in earnest after moving to Atlanta in 2021, building a following at farmers markets and breweries — and at a residency earlier this year at SOS Tiki Bar in Decatur — with their biscuit sandwiches, cookies, Liege waffles and other baked goods.

Knowing how passionate Southerners are about their biscuits, the pair tried several recipes and techniques over the years before landing on what they consider “a biscuit that can stand alone or be delicious in a sandwich or with jam or honey,” said Nebiyu Berhane, who grew up in Kennesaw.

They also recently added burgers to their offerings, to showcase that they want to serve both breakfast and lunch at a cafe they hope to open within the next two years. A Kickstarter launched last fall allowed them to buy a van and add an employee.

In the meantime, they’re enjoying the love they’re getting from both friends and family.

“My mom has always wanted to open a cafe since she was a little girl,” Nebiyu Berhane said. “It wasn’t in the cards for her, but she said that we’re bringing her dream to reality.”

Jimmie Jackson of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken / Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

Credit: Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

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Credit: Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

Jimmie’s Jerk Chicken

The Jimmie’s Jerk Chicken (instagram.com/atljerkking). origin story really began about a decade ago, when Jimmie Jackson started a spice company. He worked on recipes and cooked for friends, who encouraged him to enter cooking competitions.

He launched his pop-up in 2019, using the kitchen at Chris’ Caribbean Bistro in Smyrna, and ramped things up during the pandemic when he was furloughed from his restaurant jobs, making appearances at breweries around town.

Now, he’s regularly popping up at Boggs Social & Supply, where he serves dishes as varied as jerk chicken sandwiches, corn ribs with red pepper crema, oxtail empanadas and a jerk brisket sandwich with jerk candied bacon.

Dishes from the menu of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken / Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

Credit: Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

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Credit: Courtesy of Jimmie's Jerk Chicken

Though Jackson doesn’t have Caribbean heritage, he knew he wanted to combine his love for the culture and cuisine with the barbecue he fell in love with while growing up in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I consider it American jerk,” he said. “All my cooking techniques stem from American barbecue, but I make my own jerk rubs and spices.”

Next up for Jackson is a regular spot in October at Punk Foodie on Ponce, the restaurant and chef accelerator set to open soon at Ponce City Market from pop-up curator Sam Flemming, also known as Punk Foodie. And Jackson is on the hunt for capital to start his own brick-and-mortar.

“I’m glad he chose me,” he said. “It shows me I’m doing something good and people are enjoying what I’m bringing to the table.”

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