When is a restaurant not a restaurant? When it's situated in a rented hallway out in the woods? When it's usually a bakery? When Tom Waits and his family are there?
How about: yes. (The Waits family don't make a restaurant not a restaurant, they just make whatever it is—be it watching a local parade or making a quick trip to the hardware store—instantly cooler through mere presence.)
Pop-up restaurants, those insta-dining events that require a chef and a wash basin and financial transactions but don't need to be open on a dreary Tuesday if they don't want to, are all the rage for many obvious reasons—dreary Tuesdays chief among them. With no long-term lease, no full-time staff, no monthly electrical bills, with in fact none of the trappings of a static business, pop-up restos dramatically insist that tonight is the only night patrons can get a seat. Ya better hurry.
Up in Healdsburg, Yucatán chef Mateo Granados—a kitchen god whose résumé boasts stints at Masas, Rubicon, Manka's and Dry Creek Kitchen, among others—hosts regular "Missing Link" dinners at the Costeaux Bakery. Sometimes guests just get what Granados is cooking; other times, they have a selection and a menu and everything. Always, they get a great meal at a remarkably affordable price. "Insiders" become such by signing up for monthly alerts: firstname.lastname@example.org; put "Missing Link" in the subject head.
More swathed in mystery is the monthly soiree that organizers begged us not to name put on way out in the middle of Western Sonoma County Nowhere. Generally held the first Monday of the month, this supper club has a different famous area chef come in to cook at a rented hall. There's live music, outdoor seating overlooking a creek and 10 mere dollars gets you whatever the famous area chef is cooking. Recently, former Cafe St. Rose owner Mark Malicki spent an industrious day roasting a pig for the occasion. The supper club is strictly BYOB, and kids are even welcome. Look for utensils-and-tree flyers for news of the next one.