Is there a better time to be a food lover than during summer? The bounty of produce and possibility of outdoor seating tempts chefs into creating new concepts, and with L.A.'s pop-up restaurant culture, these culinary dreams can become brief realities. The swift approach of August means these temporary restaurants’ days are numbered. Here are four of L.A.’s best pop-ups to catch before they disappear in the fall.
Plant Food + Wine Arata
Chef Matthew Kenney is known for the plant-based cuisine found in his restaurants like Plant Food + Wine, so it’s no surprise that visiting pop-up Arata is in a similar theme. Arata comes from Kenney’s Maine-based restaurant incubator and serves up sustainable, plant-based cuisine with a distinct Asian tilt. Its 11-day stint at Plant Food + Wine Venice will be focused around a noodle bar, steamed buns and seasonal appetizers. Menu standouts range from smoked king oyster buns with cashew hoisin and kimchi pancakes to a summery heirloom tomato salad with shiso yogurt. The dessert menu, with matcha ice cream sandwiches and toasted sesame cheesecake, looks particularly excellent. Arata will be operating in Venice from July 28 to Aug. 7. Call (310) 450-1009 to make a reservation.
Chef Jason Fullilove is beloved by L.A. history nerds for his role in helping reopen Clifton’s Cafeteria, but the Patina Restaurant group alum’s latest project comes in the form of a decidedly different pop-up: Barbara Jean. Housed in Feastly, the Arts District’s new “social dining marketplace,” Barbara Jean’s menu consists of modern interpretations of the food Fullilove grew up eating in Cleveland and southern Africa. The standard menu comes in at $50 and includes everything from pickled shrimp with watermelon to pork-stuffed pig’s feet. There’s talk of Barbara Jean maturing into a brick-and-mortar spot, but eager foodies should try to snag a place at the pop-up’s table. Barbara Jean will take place on July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19 and Aug. 26. Pick up your tickets here.
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Part performance piece, part pop-up restaurant, Monkeytown is a wholly immersive dining experience that’s got all of L.A.’s arts scene talking. We’ve already covered the somewhat psychedelic, definitely worthwhile experience, so let’s talk menu. Chef Nick Montgomery, who’s worked in Chicago restaurant Blackbird and New York’s much-hyped Momofuku, creates the food. Montgomery’s menu is ultra-seasonal, changing with the latest farmers market offerings — new four- and five-course menu will be offered Aug. 3–28. An early June visit yielded dishes like heirloom tomato salad, red wine–braised short ribs and a toasted rice custard with tart cherries. Vegetarian menus are available. Bonus: The drinks are equally inspired, and wholly excellent. Monkeytown L.A. runs through Oct. 1. Reserve your seat here.
A Venice Pop-Up
The Italian region of Umbria comes to Abbot Kinney next week for A Venice Pop-Up. The $75, BYOB evening comes from chefs Ella Freyinger (Venice Beach Wines, the Wood Cafe) and Hourie Sahakian (Short Cake), and focuses on the simplicity of Umbrian cooking. The seven-course dinner focuses on light dishes like a grilled melon salad, served with pistachio, purslane and ricotta salata. A crushed cucumber and fennel salad is equally earthy, but Sahakian keeps things from getting too virtuous with dessert: a sour plum crumble, served with brown butter and a yogurt sorbet. A Venice Pop-Up is happening Aug. 5, and you can buy your tickets here.