The restaurant scene has changed quite a bit since the start of the pandemic - things like meal kits, parklets, and cocktails to-go have become the new normal. But another big trend we’ve seen is home cooks and professional chefs starting their own takeout and delivery operations. We’ll call them at-home pop-ups. And whether they’re taking orders via Instagram DM or biking deliveries around the city, these chefs are redefining the way we access food.
According to the COOK Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports home cooks through resources, training, and advocacy, at-home restaurants are nothing new. And they’ve helped level the playing field for those who might lack resources, access to commercial kitchen space, or time to invest in a full brick-and-mortar operation. California recently passed AB626, which allows people to sell food they’ve made in their home kitchens to the public - so you can probably expect to see more of these at-home pop-ups in the future.
Below you’ll find six at-home pop-ups in SF and the East Bay that are making everything from sourdough with hot links to brown butter apple pies. And if you’re looking to support home restaurants right now, or get more involved in pushing California counties to opt in to AB626 (Alameda County only recently started moving forward with a plan), check out (and donate to) the COOK Alliance.
Arepas en Bici
After getting laid off from his job as a kitchen manager at the start of the pandemic, Victor Aguilera turned to making traditional Venezuelan dishes - like arepas stuffed with shredded beef, cheesy, fried tequeños, and pastelitos de guava - and delivering orders around SF on his bicycle. His menu currently includes vegan leek and mushroom arepas, frozen tequeños and arepas to warm up later, and hallacas and pan de jamón for the holidays. You can pre-order online or by texting Aguilera (415-660-0303) for pick-up at Tonic Bar, or delivery by bike. Keep an eye on Arepas en Bici’s Instagram for specials.
Rachel Caygill has baked and sold pastries from home since 2018, but business really picked up after the shelter-in-place order. She now bakes over 500 cakes, pies, croissants, galettes, and other pastries every week out of her kitchen in Oakland. Her menu varies week to week, but if the brioche cinnamon roll is on it, order at least one - they’re fluffy, sticky-sweet, and absolutely delicious. Online orders open on Tuesdays, and you can pick up your order on Saturdays from 10-11am.
Like a lot of your friends on your Instagram feed, Azikiwee Anderson tried making sourdough at the start of shelter-in-place. But unlike most, his were actually good. He bakes the bread out of ovens in his Inner Richmond backyard, and uses ingredients you don’t typically find in sourdough, like hot links, blackberries, and cherries. Anderson used to sell his loaves via Instagram - but now, to get your hands on one, you’ll need to order ahead online (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are pick-up days), or grab one at Excelsior Coffee on Sundays.
When the pandemic hit, Michael Barrett launched a concept he’d been wanting to get off the ground for a while: a pie shop. Barrett currently runs Bicycle Pies out of his home in Oakland. The menu includes sweet and savory hand pies with fillings like turnip and kabocha squash hash with bacon and eggs, or brown butter apple. Barrett delivers the pies by bike, or has them available for pick-up from his home in Temescal. Check Instagram for the pre-order form, or to see when he’s doing a pop-up.
La Huerta Tacos in Alameda is one of the newest spots for quesabirria. Owners Erin and Felipe De La Rosa (Felipe is from Jalisco, where birria originated) opened La Huerta Tacos in August. They make excellent quesabirria tacos and consome, and are also selling refried beans with bacon and queso fresco, guacamole and chips, horchata, and churros con cajeta. Order on Tuesdays via Instagram DM for pick-up on Mondays.
Tina Nguyen, a former pastry sous chef at Lazy Bear and Alexander’s Steakhouse, had always wanted to start her own bakery. And after going through La Cocina’s Incubator Program last summer, she began baking on her own full-time. You can get everything from honey lavender cakes and garlic miso buns to chocolate hojicha cookies, which she currently makes out of her own kitchen and larger commercial spaces. Nguyen hopes to secure a brick-and-mortar space in the future, but for now you can order pastries online for pick-up in the Outer Sunset, and place custom orders here.