The food hall concept is booming across America. Surveys indicate there are more than 200 of these conglomerations of casual dining stalls, most of them dedicated to artisanal, locally sourced, and reasonably priced meals and snacks.
Typically housed in revamped industrial or commercial buildings with plenty of space for stalls serving a variety of different cuisines, they offer tons of great stuff to eat, all in one place. What more could you ask for?
Let’s take a look at six of the nation’s most popular food halls where you’re certain to find something to titillate those taste buds.
Reading Market Terminal, Philadelphia
This bustling food market has been a premier dining destination in Philly for nearly 40 years. Visitors and local patrons alike come especially for the legendary Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. The best ones arguably are found at Carmen’s — but Team Foobooz and Spataro’s make great sandwiches, too. The latter serves a dynamite egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.
For a change, try a pork cheesesteak at Wursthaus Schmitz. Other favorites include DiNic’s roast pork sandwich, Beiler’s donuts, pretzels at Miller’s Twist and Whoopie Pies at the Flying Monkey.
Revival Food Hall, Chicago
When Revival opened in 2016 in a cavernous 24,000-square-foot hall in the downtown Loop, it brought some much-needed change to the area’s chain-focused dining scene.
Local chefs have imported a variety of faraway flavors, ranging from Budlong’s Nashville hot chicken to Hawaiian poke bowls at Aloha; not to mention succulent St. Louis spare ribs from Smoque BBQ and Asian ramen dishes from the Furious Spoon. Other favorites include Fat Shallot’s made-to-order sandwiches, Mindy’s Burgers and, for something sweet, cakes and pastries from Hot Chocolate Bakery.
St. Roch Market, Miami
The first food hall to open in Miami’s high-end Design District is described by The New York Timesas offering “the most eclectic mix of food choices yet to be had under one roof in Miami.”
It is a slick, upscale, chef-centric food hall featuring a thoughtfully curated mix of local food and beverage talent. Besides Vietnamese street food at Tran An, you’ll find regional Italian dishes at Dal Plin, pork belly ramen at Yuzu, craft tacos and fresh ceviche at Hot Lime — and, for a refreshing drink, it’s hard to top the cold-pressed juices and smoothies at Sweet Blendz. For something a bit stiffer, order up a craft cocktail at The Mayhaw.
Eden Center, Falls Church, Virginia
Located in a sprawling suburban strip mall said to house the highest concentration of Vietnamese-owned businesses in the nation, Eden Center is focused exclusively on Asian fare –- primarily Vietnamese.
Devotees of this cuisine will find endless choices, but those not so familiar with such spicy, impossible to pronounce dishes will do just fine sticking to basics such as the pho at Pho Xe Lua, freshwater prawns at Huong Viet or fried tofu bites at Thanh Son Tofu. If you only order one thing, however, it should be broken rice with pork three ways and an egg on top at Thanh Truc.
Grand Central Market, Los Angeles
A downtown landmark and dining institution since way back in 1917, Grand Central brings together literally hundreds of vendors offering just about every kind of food you can imagine. It’s a virtual UN representation of L.A.’s sprawling global community.
Here are some options just to tempt your taste buds: hand-rolled falafel at Kismet, a bento box at Bento Ya, panang curry at Sticky Rice, tacos or carnitas at Taco Tumbras, spaghetti and meatballs at Knead & Co., and a big, fat pastrami sandwich at Wexler’s Deli.
Melrose Market, Seattle
If you’re familiar with Seattle, you were probably expecting to see Pike Place Market featured here. The highly popular waterfront market where you can join throngs of fellow tourists watching fishmongers tossing huge salmon back and forth is certainly an essential Seattle experience — but Melrose is where you want to go if you’d like something amazing to eat without risking being jabbed in the eye with a selfie stick.
Sequestered in a set of historic 1919 buildings on Capitol Hill, Melrose features a vibrant array of inventive farm-to-table fare. As this is Seattle, you’ll find strong, hot coffee at Honor Society and fresh oysters, clams, Dungeness crab, various chowders and, in season, fresh uni (sea urchin) at Taylor Shellfish. Roast beef sandwiches at Rain Shadow Meats are to die for, as are the breakfasts at Homegrown. And, oh yes, there’s a bar, and a really good one, at Still Liquor.