Best Occasional Splurge

Pop-Up General Store

Underground food markets in the Bay Area skew flea market-homey or rave-party funky, but not this one. Chez Panisse alums Chris Lee and Samin Nosrat organized the first Pop-Up General Store last year, after the closure of Eccolo — the Berkeley restaurant where they cooked — left them pondering their next moves. Lee and Nosrat rallied their chef and food-artisan friends to sell restaurant-grade goodies at an occasional market in the historic North Oakland streetcar terminal that serves as Grace Street Catering's kitchen and client tasting facility. The schedule is irregular (follow on Twitter @popupgeneral, especially since it's a good idea to pre-order treats you know you want), and prices aren't cheap, but neither is the quality of the food. Favorites include heat-at-home potato-fennel gratin from Mary Jo Thoresen and Curt Clingman of shuttered Oakland restaurant Jojo, French pastries from Brian Wood of Starter Bakery, and seasonal jams from Blue Chair Fruit's Rachel Saunders. You can easily drop $80 and not even half-fill your shopping tote, but look at it this way: You'll have a couple months to save up for the next one.

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