On Saturday, March 7, I went to my last pop-up. It was soups-and-stews-themed and held by Three Sacks Full at the natural wine bar Ebb & Company in Bryant. We ate at a large community table. My kid zoomed a toy metal tractor around on the floor.
I love pop-ups. There’s a sense of community and an undercurrent of excitement. All food can deliver a feeling of ephemera, but especially so when you’ve gotten to experience something that isn’t always around — be it doughnuts or a multicourse dinner. When dining rooms shut on March 17, it seemed the pop-up scene in Seattle might be on hold indefinitely.
Michael Tsai and Matthew Curtis are the men behind Three Sacks Full. That pop-up at Ebb & Company was the last time they served guests inside a dining room — but they haven’t stopped popping up, and luckily, neither have other Seattle-area pop-ups.
In fact, Tsai and Curtis — who also have a little half-acre “farmlette” between Carnation and Duvall — say they feel “so much busier now.” The regular schedule for Three Sacks Full was tied to the seasons; around once every four to six weeks in winter, while summer and harvest season had the duo hosting pop-ups every three weeks.
Now they’re selling to-go dinners every other week, with pickups on Wednesday at Columbia City’s La Medusa and Thursday at Ebb & Company in Bryant.
“What’s been interesting is we’ve ended up expanding our community and reaching people who might not have found us before,” said Tsai.
If you’re looking for something new, consider expanding your takeout repertoire to include dinner from a pop-up. From diner-style burgers to fried chicken, here are three Seattle-area pop-ups to keep an eye on, and where to find them.
Three Sacks Full
Chef Tsai draws inspiration from what’s growing at the farm to put together vegetable-forward meals. Often fresh, in-season ingredients are paired with dried or pickled ingredients plucked from the farm, like a fava bean and piennolo tomato soup with mint and green garlic, or marinated leeks with shunkyo radish salad and popped mustard seeds. There are also pantry items available, as well as expert wine pairings courtesy of Curtis.
Menus are posted every other Sunday for that week’s pickup. Order online. Pickup 4-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at La Medusa (4857 Rainier Ave. S.) and Thursdays at Ebb & Company (3404 N.E. 55th St.); threesacksfull.com
Cookie’s Country Chicken
Brian “Cookie” Chandler has long balanced working in Seattle-area kitchens with a career in the maritime industry. One of his last jobs was in Louisiana, where the company mandate stated Sunday meal was fried chicken. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Cookie says.
That first Sunday “was a total disaster,” but afterward he spent every day off the boat eating the best fried chicken he could.
“It was an uphill battle right out of the gate. I just cared so much about it I dedicated all the energy I had to cooking for these big guys,” he says.
All the research (and ribbing from his fellow boatmen) has paid off and Cookie has been popping up around Seattle with his crispy, juicy fried chicken since February.
Get your hands on his excellent fried chicken plus totally addictive sweet-and-spicy collard greens, potato salad and smooth, creamy mac-and-cheese every few weeks. Right now pickups are at Good Day Donuts in White Center (a bonus as each family meal comes with four doughnuts), but Cookie says he’s just signed the lease on a commercial kitchen in Georgetown. With that, he hopes to increase pop-ups in addition to hosting community events and doing catering as Cookie’s Construction Chicken, feeding construction crews and industrial workers.
Sign up for the mailing list at cookiescountrychicken.com to be alerted to pop-up days. Order in advance online at exploretock.com/cookiescountrychicken. Pickups currently Sundays at Good Day Donuts (9823 15th Ave. S.W., Suite E).
Rough Draft Burgers
Longtime friends and industry veterans Aaron Wilcenski and Nick Jarvis started hosting elaborate pop-up dinners as Rough Draft 206 in early 2016, adding Rough Draft Burgers to the mix earlier this year. Now you can find them at Ballard’s Fair Isle Brewing every Saturday and Sunday — along with the occasional Friday at Good Day Donuts in White Center — slinging classic diner-style burgers plus cold and hot vegetable options.
The Rough Draft cheeseburger comes with a tender beef patty nestled in between a soft, fluffy warm bun doused with American cheese so melty you can’t tell where the cheese ends and the secret sauce begins. Cool pickles add some crunch, and the burger also comes with a smattering of onions. Good luck telling yourself to savor it bite by bite instead of scarfing eagerly. Pro tip? Order the grilled veggies, too. Munching on perfectly seasoned, slightly singed grilled broccoli florets that are just a touch spicy, you can convince yourself that you made healthy choices for lunch!
Order online in advance for pick up Fridays at Good Day Donuts (9823 15th Ave. S.W.) and noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fair Isle Brewing (936 N.W. 49th St.). The menu posts each Wednesday, order in advance as they regularly sell out; rough-draft-burger-shop.square.site.
Food editor Stefanie Loh contributed to this story.