An exciting wave of Los Angeles pop-ups are highlighting underrepresented cuisines

The Nigerian pop-up Ile is making waves in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Ile
A composed brown plate from Nigerian Los Angeles pop-up Ile

Welcome to your monthly guide to the must-know food-world news in Los Angeles. Discover the latest industry trends, hottest restaurants to try, and more. Dine on.

Pop-ups have long been a part of the Los Angeles dining fabric. The popularity of places like pan-style pizza shop Quarter Sheets and Shanghai noodle favorite Woon led to brick and mortar success stories, proving the longevity of the business model.

Several new pop-ups that cropped up recently have brought more excitement to the scene by highlighting cuisines that are underrepresented in Los Angeles. Earlier this month, a weekend-only Syrian street food pop-up called Nawal debuted just northeast of Dodger Stadium in Solano Canyon. Here, brothers Armbay and Dotee Zakaria, along with their cousin Danny Zakaria, offer just five items on the menu. Dishes include tisiyeh, a popular Syrian breakfast that consists of a yogurt and hummus mixture topped with whole chickpeas, pita chips, slivered almonds, and parsley. 

Ile pop up chef Tolu Erogbogbo serving customers
Chef Tolu Erogbogbo has been thrilling diners with spices and raw ingredients sourced from Nigeria. Photo credit: Ile

At Malli, in East Hollywood, chefs and partners Elizabeth Heitner and Nestor Silva celebrate the marriage of their cultures with Mexican- and Jewish-inspired food like pastrami tacos and marinated zucchini topped with tahini and pepitas. 

And diners can get a taste of Nigeria in the heart of Hollywood at chef Tolu Erogbogbo’s West African pop-up, Ilé. Spices and other raw ingredients are sourced from Nigerian villages and shipped to Erogbogbo’s Hollywood kitchen, where he uses them to create dishes such as jollof rice with fried chicken or pepper soup with snapper. There’s never been a better time to experience the richness of pop-ups in LA.

Here’s some other food news you don’t want to miss this month:

  • Fairfax’s burgeoning burger scene is expanding more with Trophies, which will now compete with nearby contenders such as Burgers 99 and Extra Market
  • The Los Angeles Times named its best places to try mandu in Koreatown, including Pao Jao Dumpling House and Chang Hwa Dang.
  • This stunning dumpling, at Culver City’s Iron Teapot Dim Sum & Bar, mashes up Vietnamese, Mexican, and Chinese flavors.

And before you go, these are the LA restaurants to check out this month, all bookable on OpenTable:

  • Taste chef Brandon Kida’s remixes on Japanese food at Gunsmoke. Book now 
  • Experience food cooked on a wood-fired hearth at Dunsmoor. Book now 
  • Get comfortable and slurp an oyster at The Lonely Oyster. Book now

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