Saulitos BBQ, House of Mofos: Don’t miss these summer pop-ups

By Evan Kleiman

This is the winning tray from Saulitos BBQ at the Smorgasburg LA BBQ Invitational. Photo courtesy of Saulitos BBQ.

Which chefs should we be following so we don’t miss out? You know the disappointment. You hear a friend talk about a fun experience they had at a pop-up. But you missed it because you had no idea it was going to happen. Then comes the dreaded FOMO.

I turned to Zach Brooks to ask who should be on our radar. Brooks is the general manager of Smorgasburg Los Angeles, and as such is the gatekeeper/curator to what’s on offer each Sunday at the well-attended gathering of some of LA’s best food vendors. Last weekend, the Los Angeles Times profiled the gregarious eater. We’ve been wanting to offer you some suggestions for attending pop-ups this summer, so here are his picks. 

Saulitos BBQ

This eatery serves Texas-inspired BBQ with a bit of LA culture. They make a great burger and “dino rib.” They’ve been popping up for a while at places like Benny Boy Brewery. They recently won the Smorgasburg LA BBQ Invitational at Santa Anita Park.

Sweet Selma’s Bagels

They serve hand-rolled rip-and-dip bagels and homemade cream cheese from East Side Cheesecakes. Let me reiterate. These are cheesecakes made by people who make their own cream cheese. But forgive me. We’re talking about the bagels here. They’ve been bouncing around LA with their bagels for a while.

Sweet Selma’s Bagels serves these baked goods with house-made cream cheese. Photo courtesy of Sweet Selma’s Bagels.

House of Mofos

Vegan mofongo! Mofongo is a canonic Puerto Rican dish made of seasoned, cooked, and mashed green plantains, which are usually stuffed with chicharrones. But in this case, the couple behind House of Mofos (originally from Orlando) make their own vegan meat substitute. 

Mariscos Los Corchos

This is an incredible pescado zarandeado vendor from Nayarit, according to Zach Brooks. Pescado zarandeado is a butterflied whole fish that is inserted into a flat grilling basket and cooked over live coals. Mariscos Los Corchos was popping up in a backyard in Rialto for a while. Right now, they’re only open for catering pick-up orders, but don’t be surprised if you see them at Smorgasburg in July. 

My own suggestion: 

A Tí Los Angeles

Andrew Ponce, former chef de cuisine of Bestia and former sous chef of Cento, knows how to make delicious food. He is bringing his pop-up, A Tí, which began in the “backyard” at Cento to All Day Baby for a few nights in June. Do not miss this. On the menu, look forward to a tuna tostada, a crispy short rib taco, and crispy duck mole. Reservations are available on Tock.

Chef Andrew Ponce’s Crispy Duck Mole is from his pop-up Atì Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of A Tì.