The concept of a temporary restaurant dates to at least the 1960s. In supper clubs and closed-door restaurants, chefs cooked off-the-wall meals for in-the-know customers, sometimes in the chefs' homes. Today, Miami sees multiple pop-up eateries throughout the year. Some last a few weeks, and others stick around for more than a year.
What they have in common is they serve food and drinks from spaces that haven't been retrofitted or newly constructed, as is typical in Miami. Some pop-ups are more ambitious than others, but each provides a cheaper alternative to the terrifyingly risky business of starting a restaurant. Here are the five best pop-ups that have debuted in the past six months. Get there before time runs out.
1. Root & Bone. Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, who opened Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour this past September, opened a Root & Bone pop-up in the Shelborne South Beach. The Southern-style restaurant, located in the front of the hotel, is based on the couple's flagship in New York City. The menu, similar to the one in NYC, includes an array of down-home goodies centered on the "bucket of bird," in which a half or whole bird is sweet-tea-brined and then dusted with pickled lemon ($19 to $36). There are also buttery biscuits and deviled eggs ($7 to $13), along with entrées such as shrimp 'n' grits and spare ribs ($26 to $28). 5 to 11 p.m. at Shelborne South Beach, 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach.
2. Sansara. Sunday mornings in Coral Gables, Sachi Statz and Andres Vega operate the Cuban-inspired pop-up Sansara at Tinta y Café, which is owned by Statz's mother and uncle. The couple, who met and fell in love at the Miami Culinary Institute in 2015, quit their jobs this past April to create their version of "upscale Cuban food," which debuted in June. Since then, Statz has run Sansara on Sundays and managed Tinta y Café during the week. Statz and Vega serve croqueta cake Benedicts, where a savory ham patty is stacked atop a flaky biscuit and drizzled with lime hollandaise ($15); tomato confit toast, made with sweet and tender cherry tomatoes ($12); and fried eggs with rich maduro hash ($11). Plans are to begin serving dinner in early 2018. 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays at 1315 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-432-4661; sansaramiami.com
3. The Craftsman. Inside the former Brother Jimmy's BBQ space in Brickell, the Craftsman, a New York City bar, lounge, and sandwich spot, has set up a temporary location. The pop-up serves cocktails and beer, meat and cheese platters, and sandwiches and wraps. The bar also offers an avocado menu, complete with avocado pizza, avocado toast, and Tex-Mex or Mediterranean stuffed avocados ($6 to $24). For now, the Craftsman expects to operate in Miami for about a year, with the possibility of an extension. Daily until 4 a.m. at Mary Brickell Village, 900 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-400-8226; thecraftsmanmiami.com.
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4. Roberta's. This fall, a scaled-down version of the hipster Brooklyn restaurant Roberta's opened near the Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton boutiques in the Design District. Though Roberta's pop-ups specialize in premium pizza, the Brooklyn restaurant is a full-service operation attached to a casual take-out area and a bakery. At the Miami pop-up, each pie is finished with a distinct ingredient. For example, the Bee Sting calls for a squeeze of sweet honey and a layer of soppressata (Italian dry salami); the Famous Original enhances a traditional mozzarella recipe with caciocavallo; and the White Guy uses ricotta garlic for extra flavor. Pies are fired for 90 seconds inside a brick pizza oven attached to an aqua-blue trailer. Prices range from $11 to $14. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through April 2018. Entrances at 3801 NE First Ave. and 140 NE 39th St., Miami.
5. Sweet Melody Crafted Ice Cream Co. Owned by Mike Romeu, the concept is named for and inspired by his 5-year-old daughter, Melody. In less than two years, he has scooped flavors such as pecan and bourbon in restaurants such as Pinch Kitchen and R House. He has set up small freezers at places such as Lincoln's Beard Brewing, where he scoops the ice cream himself. And he delivers pints to Niven Patel at Ghee Indian Kitchen. More recently, he partnered with Mojo Donuts in Westchester; on weekends, customers can add a serving of ice cream ($4 to $6) atop a doughnut or purchase individual pints of his more than 150 rotating flavors ($10). 786-376-2814; sweetmelodyicecream.com.