The typical restaurant pop-up is an aspiring chef or restaurateur proving her chops until a permanent restaurant can become a reality. But established restaurant Bar Luchador turns the idea of a pop-up inside out. They take a night each month to give their own restaurant a mini-facelift, including decor, music, uniforms, and most importantly, the menu.
The last several monthly Monday pop-ups at the University of Minnesota taqueria have seen the restaurant turn into an Italian Red Sauce joint (You're Family When You're Here) a tribute to Guy Fieri (Flavor Country) Stoner Food (420) as well as multiple other takes on favorite foods or angles on food culture.
This past Monday offered a cheeky homage to Instagram faves, which chef/owner of Luchador Angelo Pennacchio deemed #Basic.
With the likes of Lou Bega and Taylor Swift on the sound system, staff in Izod shirts, and plenty of unicorn and sparkle motifs, it was a night that gave everyone #allthefeels.
While Pennacchio and his staff are dialed into the nuances of foodie culture in a way that I've see few other restaurants tinker with, the best part of the pop-ups is the food. While the chef says he doesn't take himself too seriously, I can't help but call his bluff. With each event, he manages to create dishes that are technical examples of what each should be, even in restaurants that specialize in them.
Examples include the ethereal hollandaise and perfect poachers on the #hotmess (Eggs Benedict with hash browns and asparagus), the handmade Ranch dressing that arrived served in an ice bucket a la Champagne, or even – pardon the expression – basic items like chicken fingers. Here, they're brined, hand-breaded, and so crave-worthy that you'll reconsider your stance on the old kid-friendly standby.
Occasionally, Pennacchio calls in reinforcements, like in You're Family When You're Here, where his pal and chef Geoff Stout from critically acclaimed Italian restaurant Terzo assisted with the cooking. It was fantastic, less expensive than you probably would have paid at a serious Italian spot, and undoubtedly more fun, too.
Surprises throughout each night include cash-only, limited-edition items, like a recent vat of handmade queso with a sheet tray of chips (also excellent).
Stay all night, and get them all. (While Guy Fieri never showed on his tribute night, there was a specialty fried rice waiting for him, and him only. His loss.)
As he teased in the video, Pennacchio is already planning his next act. "Eating Good in the Neighborhood" was a hint. Any guesses?
Watch Bar Luchador's Facebook Page for finalized details announcing the next pop-up.
Until then, visit them anytime for some of the best tacos (and good times) in Minneapolis.