I know I say it every time I write a pop-up roundup, but Seattle’s pop-up scene is still showing no signs of slowing down. There’s still a mix of professional chefs striking out on their own with concepts they’ve lovingly been crafting in any spare moment they could grab, as well as passionate home cooks dipping their toes into their dream business. This time there’s barbecue from a chef who is going from painstakingly plating 27-course meals to turning out sausages, brisket and ribs; a baker who started her first business selling cookies in high school; and a chef whipping up Austin-style breakfast tacos.
And a bonus for anyone who hates playing the chase-the-pop-up game: All of these options have either a preorder option or regular setups, meaning you don’t have to guess where to get your hands on the goods.
Smokestack Lightning BBQ
For the past decade, Darrell Sawyer has been smoking meats, starting when he would casually throw a pork butt in a smoker in the early hours of a weekend morning, getting his yard work done while checking on the meat. He patiently honed his barbecue skills, all while working nights in fine dining restaurants, including a four-year stint as the sous chef at Capitol Hill’s Altura. Three years ago, he quit restaurants and devoted himself to Smokestack Lightning full time, offering what he calls “Seattle-style barbecue.”
“I try to take the best things from all the different styles, a melting pot of regional American barbecue,” Sawyer says.
Sawyer’s of the mind that all barbecue goes well together and people who are “hell bent on one style are just missing out.” He writes a weekly menu and changes things up with the seasons, focusing on sausages, ribs and pulled pork in the warmer months, for example, and chili, pork belly nachos and fire-roasted chicken and grits in the colder months. He’s making bread, sauces, sides and desserts from scratch and says he never does the same menu twice.
I’ve never had anything from Sawyer that I didn’t like, but keep an eye out for his brisket burnt ends — either on nachos or with cheddar grits — the pulled pork (or anything really) with Carolina gold sauce and the chocolate cake with peanut buttercream and a crown of toasted marshmallow. If you can’t decide, he’s always got a meat platter on the menu with a mix of the day’s offerings big enough to feed two. You can find him Thursdays through Saturdays setting up at one of three breweries on the north side: Hellbent, Urban Family and Lantern. Check his Instagram for the weekly schedule.
Sophie Bay Biscuits
Sophie Handler has one goal in life; “do everything I love right now.” Handler, who has been baking with her dad since she was a toddler, has battled cancer on and off for the past 10 years and throughout the yo-yo of treatment-clear scans-treatment again she’s learned she not only wants “people to make meaning out of their lives in the way they most want to,” but she wants it for herself, too.
That means baking British-style biscuits — lemon sugar sables, almond orange pillows and ginger molasses cookies — plus slabs of chocolate cake and fluffy ricotta cake topped with her own strawberry compote. During the height of the pandemic, she was boxing up her baked goods along with a poem or two she had written and shipping them across the country, combining her two loves of storytelling and baking.
“That’s my entire goal — for people to take a moment. I want them to read and create their own stories about where they were when they enjoyed the biscuit,” she says.
The story created for me while eating my Sophie Bay Biscuits began in my car while driving home after picking up a few cookies (the espresso sables are incredible) and slices of cake. The hunk of ricotta cake, topped with the most perfect macerated strawberry, was perched on my front seat in an open cardboard boat. I slammed on the brakes when someone cut me off and that cake flew through the air, landing strawberry side down. However, I have no shame and I scraped off the dirt and inhaled that wonderfully moist cake. All the more reason to go back and get a piece as she intended.
While Handler’s no longer shipping her goods, you can catch her in person at a pop-up or swing by Drink Books in Phinney Ridge where you can regularly find Handler’s whole cake and pastry packs. Check Instagram or her website for full details.
Good Morning Tacos
I hadn’t realized there was a breakfast taco-shaped hole in my life until I tasted Kinga Borkowski’s Good Morning Tacos. They’re Austin-style tacos, which according to Borkowski means the taco must have fluffy scrambled egg on a fluffy, griddled flour tortilla.
Borkowski — who, since moving to Seattle from Chicago in 2019, previously worked as a chef for Junebaby and with Microsoft corporate catering — went through 15 different kinds of tortillas before landing on the perfect one from a small tortilleria in Everett. She sources local eggs and also partnered with Woodinville Hot Sauce Co. on a hot sauce for her salsa roja.
“The tacos are Austin-style with West Coast inspiration: microgreens, pickled red onions. There’s not much color to an authentic Austin-style taco,” she says.
Slightly larger than a street taco, these flavor-packed tacos meld smoky poblano peppers with cotija and eggs, crumbly chorizo with creamy refried black beans and pickled red onions, or crisp bacon, with sharp cheddar cheese and salsa roja. Then it’s all placed atop a puffy, chewy tortilla. You’ll want at least two — three if you’re really hungry.
You can find Borkowski and her incredibly friendly husband Konrad popping up at the Lake Forest and Woodinville farmers markets plus Fair Isle Brewing in Ballard. Check Instagram and their website for the full schedule.
Article Source: The Seattle Times