Jet-Set Bohemian: Pop-Up Food Halls

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Jet-Set Bohemian: Pop-Up Food Halls

A jetset lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In Paste Travel’s Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.

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It’s late summer in Copenhagen and one of those days that’s so perfectly warm and sunny, even the locals can’t believe it. Tourists stretch out on terraces along the 17th century Nyhavn canal and waterfront with its postcard-perfect candy-colored homes, but we’re strolling past the traditional Danish eateries to see the city’s skyline from across the bridge.

Here on PapirØen, or The Paper Island, the two-year-old Copenhagen Street Food takes over warehouses 7 and 8 all week long. Thirty-five food stalls, trucks and containers expand out on to the harbor where a DJ is spinning and sun bathers spread out on lounge chairs capturing rays late into the summer evenings.

Food truck dining is still all the rage while you’re on the road, but now cities are getting savvy when it comes to street food markets, featuring everything from pop-up stands like these along the port in Copenhagen to car scrap yards transformed into one of the chicest dining and bar scenes in London.

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Copenhagen courtesy of Maja Tini Jensen.jpg Photo courtesy of Maja Tini Jensen

The Paper Island pop-up not only shows off some of Copenhagen’s finest local fare in the form of falafel bar Fala Fala by music producer Reza, it also features the city’s smallest café—The Silver Streak Coffee Club—and full cocktail bar Cocktailbaren, known for their wide variety of flavored mojitos. The market mixes cultures and cuisines from around the city, but what really gives it a local feel is its philosophy. Designed to act as a “global street food kitchen for the people,” chefs have carte blanche when it comes to creative freedom and marketgoers can sample a wide variety of dishes at prices starting as low as 50-75 DKK ($7-11).

In Cape Town’s up-and-coming Woodstock neighborhood, Old Biscuit Mill is just as its name suggests, a former biscuit mill dating back to the 19th Century. The red brick buildings once housed factories like Pioneer and Standard Mills before transforming into its more recent role as a mill for tin biscuit brand Pyotts, with the names of these former lives still running down the sides of exposed chimneys.

Strolling through the former mill you’ll find modernized storefronts boasting local boutiques and galleries, but a few factories have popped up as well, producing everything from artisanal hand-crafted chocolate truffles at Cocoafair to fair trade craft coffee at roastery Espresso Lab Microroasters.

The mill’s decade-old Saturday Neighbourgoods Market has become the city’s version of a weekly farmer’s market, drawing 100 vendors—from farmers to local celeb chefs—to the sky-lit brick warehouse. Swing by the craft brew bar in the back to sample one of Cape Town’s local faves, like Golden Ale First Light, named after the slopes of Devil’s Peak that are the first spot the sun hits on the Cape each morning. Then take your pick of grub fueling up on pizzas and seafood paellas crafted on the spot, before plopping down under the pop-up tent while gypsy bands serenade diners at candlelit picnic tables that look out to Table Mountain in the distance.

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Smorgasburg 2 courtesy of Smorgasburg.jpg Photo courtesy of Smorgasburg

Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg, meanwhile, is less farmer’s market and more food truck rally. The Brooklyn flea food market takes over East River State Park every Saturday and Sunday with 100 vendors who only sport street food. The five-year-old market was born out of the original Brooklyn Flea that’s now held under the Manhattan Bridge on Sundays, selling wares like 1970s leather coats and vinyls, as well as more modern treasures like sunglasses and silver jewelry from Brooklyn-based designers.

From April through November, Smorgasburg sweeps through Williamsburg and Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill, bringing some of the top vendors from the local food scene to these outdoor locales for a festival-style atmosphere. Sundays at Smorgasburg have become a bit of a rite of passage for old and new New Yorkers alike, my friends in Bushwick explained to me while I was visiting last spring. Why try and track down a brunch spot (and wait in New York’s notoriously long lines for a seat) when you can find everything dwelling in a single place right along the river, where everyone posts up picnic-style sharing bites they’ve sourced from multiple stands around the market.

The hardest decision you’ll have to make here is which of the 100 stands to stop at. Wind your way around the white-tipped tents and scout out the scene as vendors sell all varieties of cuisine imaginable, from The Good Batch’s notorious ice cream sandwiches to Red Hook Lobster Pound’s local lobster roll sandwiches. The trick here is to follow the crowd, as the spots with the longest lines are usually a telltale sign of that day’s hottest market picks.

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Smorgasburg courtesy of Smorgasburg.jpg Photo courtesy of Smorgasburg

A few years ago, I was visiting friends in Shoreditch, London, in late fall. Katie, who’s been living in the area a few years now, mentioned she saw on Twitter that one of her favorite food trucks, Yum Bun, was heading to that evening’s Night Tales market. Set on a much smaller scale than the expansive Smorgasburg, Night Tales changes locations with the seasons, taking residence this summer in Hackney Wick for the 10-week pop-up event.

Set in an old stone merchant and car scrap yard in the East London neighborhood, the fifth installment of the series is a mélange of cocktails and cuisine in the form of Nanny Bill’s House, a traditional British diner known for their croquette roulette and fried chicken bun; Rudie’s, a Jamaican beach shack serving up authentic jerk; and ENTER.Sake, the Japanese sake collection’s first pop-up sake bar in the city. Get in early before the floor and tables fill up fast to secure your street food of choice and a seat near the music, as a carefully curated selection of DJs like London-born Eddie Richards take over the beats.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.

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