the ultimate east bay pop-up guide (part one)

ice cream, pastries and pies, oh my!

Oh, hello there. I’ve been gone for a while, haven’t I? My apologies. It felt like we were getting into a rhythm of talking about great places to eat and imbibe and how to live again in this crazy world, and then I just fell off the face of the earth.

Thanks for all of you who checked in and said hello! Even my husband’s boss! 👋

To catch folks up, in addition to a very engaged day job, I’m also currently making another human; a small gesture to do my part with our current population decline. Creating new life (while chasing a preschooler around) has been taking a lot of my spare energy these days, but thankfully for you — it hasn’t taken my appetite. Quite the opposite.

With that I present to you part one of an incredibly robust, but never fully complete East Bay pop-up guide. I’ve pulled together some of the best spots for you to try with new and creative takes from underground or undiscovered east bay bakers and chefs.

Through the course of researching this, some of these spots have even scored more permanent homes or are in the process of raising the funds to do so — though many of them are still in temporary outposts or popping up at markets and elsewhere - and some even deliver straight to your home. There is so much exciting stuff happening here in the east bay food world and I’ve been thrilled to try out most of these on your behalf. I’ve sorted them by category with part one of this guide being focused exclusively on foods of butter, milk and/or sugar origins - so that means we’re looking at ice cream and desserts. There’s lots more to look forward to as we’ll be rolling out round-ups on everything from bread and bagels, to pizza, burgers, dumplings and other savory interests. But for now - let there be dessert:

🍦Ice Cream

Bad Walters Bootleg ice cream - like many of the pop-ups on this list, Bad Walter’s started out as a home-based pandemic pastime. Bad Walters is on its way to becoming a more permanent fixture here in the east bay after first going through some regulatory hurdles with the state. I mean they do have ‘bootleg’ in their name, so it’s no wonder the health dept came knocking, but it’s also been a bit of a year, and if you ask me, it feels like the health department of all departments would have more worrisome things to deal with than some rogue dairy-making. But thankfully, Bad Walters is back, they’re licensed and getting ready to churn out their beloved flavors across the Bay. The business uses real dairy to make lactose-free ice cream and serves up creative specialty flavors like a ‘Stroll Through Provence’ (lemon ice cream, blackberry jam and lavender cookie crumble) or the Australian-inspired ‘Fancy Ass Fairy Bread’ (sourdough ice cream and caramelized crunches, dairy-free chocolate hazelnut spread with rainbow sprinkles). Keep an eye on their instagram for their next drop, coming soon.

Chunky Butt Ice Cream- this Filipino/Mexican micro-creamery churns out pop-up pints and ice cream cakes with inspired flavors like Xoco Muerto (pan de muerto xoco cookie with mexican frozen hot chocolate and salted dulce de leche) or Ruby Tea Cake (matcha, vanilla, strawberry, rhubarb & rose). They took a short hiatus and are back in Sept (which somehow is next week!) - follow along for more here.

Randy’s Best Ice Cream - Brandon Nguyen is the chef and owner of Randy’s best - like many folks on this list, he had a solid career in famed bay area restaurants before the pandemic upended his employment and he chose to create a new opportunity for himself and pursue a career of making ice cream. You can find Randy and his retro cart in the Albany area on weekends, where he features five weekly flavors at $5 a cup with creations like a seasonal corn and blueberry, yuzu creamscicle, mango passion and an indulgent brownie batter. Randy’s Best, 1115 Solano Ave

🥧 Pastries & Pies

Bake Sum pastries - a team of Bay Area natives came together to create one of the hottest bakeries in the east bay - combining classic french and asian flavors. Bake Sum offers sweet confections like mochi bites in flavors like matcha, black sesame and lilikoi and an ever-changing menu of pastries like Thai tea mango croissant, coconut ube cookies (aka cocobae), Vietnamese coffee milk buns and more. I ordered one of everything here one day and did not regret it for a second. Pickup locations vary - but at the moment you can find Bake Sum at the Hidden Cafe in Berkeley, and in SF at Grand Coffee and Golden Goat. And the best news is that Bake Sum is getting very close to opening their own retail shop at 3249 Grand Ave, Oakland. Keep an eye on this one!

Café con Pan - I discovered this delectable spot on a previous collaboration they did with another pop-up and my, oh my was it good. They make plant-based Mexican pan dulce like conchas and orejas along with other sweet treats like galettes and even concha shortcakes. You can find them on offer at NIDO’s backyard on the weekends from 8 a.m. -noon.

DKMV pastries - Keven Ghauv was a pastry chef at the W in San Francisco and started DKMV (“Donut Kill My Vibe”) during the pandemic. He knew that desserts could help people forget about the difficult times of this year and wanted to make people smile - and if you’ve seen the photos on his Instagram, smile you will, indeed. These are some of the most beautiful looking desserts here in the east bay. Keven utilizes french techniques to make sophisticated and elegant confections— and he also sells lovely-looking mochi donuts in honor of his parents who owned beloved east bay donut shop Johnny’s in Lafayette for 26 years. Keep an eye out for weekly menu drops. Order via direct message on FB or IG.

Edith’s pie - what began as a simple Thanksgiving pop-up has now become one of the most popular, in-demand pop-ups in the east bay. Chef Mike Raskin left his chef job in Chicago in 2019 and ramped up production during the pandemic and is currently in search of a more permanent home. Edith’s produces a wide-range of classic pies with hand-rolled crusts from much-loved icebox pies (in flavors like raspberry lemonade) to chess pies (lemon poppyseed and honey ginger) and even a fudgy banana cream pie. Pre-order for pick up on Saturdays from 11am-1pm at The Alice Collective at 272 14th St in Oakland.

PieSociety - ICYMI in the last edition of east bae, you can read my full proclamation of adoration here.

Soya - I first spotted this place because Friends and Family Bar posted an insane photo of the pie they were serving and I immediately knew I needed to know more and get my hands on one. This pop-up started two years ago from Jodie Cruz (who you might know from her day job at beloved pizza pop-up June’s) and once the pandemic hit she increased her pie production at spots like Elda in San Francisco. Pies range from $30-40 and they are beautiful - highly recommend checking them out. In fact, I just ordered myself a coconut cream pie for this weekend. Order through direct message, or find Soya at Friends and Family.

Tarts de Feybesse - this Vallejo-based pop-up is run by two former chefs from Geranium in Copenhagen. I’d say Tarts de Feybesse takes the cake for most beautiful desserts in the east bay - whether its their salted caramel millefieulle, St. Honoré Tart or Stonefruit bouquet tarts (pictured). You can pre-order on their website for home delivery for most of the greater bay area - whether you’re in Walnut Creek, LaMorinda, Marin or even down on the Peninsula you should be able to get your hands on Tarts De Feybesse. Find some more pretty photos to whet your appetite here.

Thuy’s treats - rocking the side hustle, Thuy has a full time gig at Good Eggs and was inspired to start her side baking business after participating in a bakers against racism bake sale in 2020. She handcrafts these delightful looking choux pastries (aka french cream puffs) in a wide range of flavors depending on the season or mood with everything from Piña Colada and Macadamia Nut Pancake to European flavors like Cherry Almond Cream. You can find Thuy’s treats at Magnolia Mini Mart (the pop-up kings of the east bay) or Picnic Rotisserie in Albany - and of course, follow along on her IG for additional collaborations or direct orders.

And in other food news:

  • Previously a pop-up, the Mana’eesh Lady aka chef Mona Leena Michael who was widely known around the east bay for her sumptuous Palestinian breads - is opening a brick and mortar location this weekend called Lulu at 1019 Camelia Street in Berkeley. The doors haven’t even opened yet and it’s clear this will be one of the best weekend brunches in the east bay.

  • Also previously a pop-up - Jo’s Modern Thai is now open in the Laurel district. Chef Intu-on Kornnawong has an impressive pedigree at award-winning restaurants like Kin Khao in SF and Night+Market in LA and most recently ran a pop-up called Intu-on here in the east bay. The new restaurant is receiving rave reviews already for its tropical vibes, flavorful food and colorful cocktails.

  • Oakland is getting a brand new upscale brasserie called Tribune in the famed Tribune building downtown. The owners bring impressive culinary resumes with time at award-winning bay area restaurants like State Bird Provisions and Mourad. The sprawling restaurant was designed by Oakland-based Jon de La Cruz - who is one of the most exciting restaurant interior designers in the bay area (Che Fico, Leo’s Oyster Bar in SF + Sadelle’s in NY, Carbone in Vegas). Knowing de La Cruz’s designs, it’s presumably worth a visit just to check out the space.

What have you all been up to? Tell me about things happening in your neighborhood!

I promise I won’t be away so long again!