Travel

Oh, Hall Yes

8 new American food halls worth buying a plane ticket to visit
Photos: Courtesy of R House, Vanessa Escobedo Barba, Signe Birck, Robert Benson, Carly Diaz
American Food Halls

This July, we're pledging allegiance to the food that makes this country great—specifically, the exciting things happening in our nation's culinary scene right now. Join us as we explore America!

There’s nothing exclusively American about the food hall—with institutions that exist all over the world, from Tokyo to London. Still, it’s a trend that couldn’t feel more at home in the country that loves choices, prizes convenience and demands immediate satisfaction to whatever the craving, be it a banh mi or bagel. Enter America’s newest crop of food halls.

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These sprawling marketplaces aren’t just fulfilling American dreams either. With the sharing economy’s momentum and the rise of communal spaces, they’re good business, too. It’s no wonder, then, that food halls continue to pop up all over the country. Here are the ones that will have you saying hall-elujah.

San Diego’s Liberty Public Market: Opened in March

Photo: Laila Said

Four months ago, San Diego’s first public artisan market opened. A “one-turn town,” as Tim Kolanko, executive chef of the market’s restaurant, Mess Hall, describes it, San Diego had plenty of naysayers. But the community has embraced the former naval base’s historical, weathered murals and stalls selling everything from house-made charcuterie to fresh produce. Add Mess Hall’s dynamic menu; Sunday roasts; and wine, beer and upcoming cocktail pairings, and it’s no wonder the city warmed up to it fast.

Portland’s Pine Street Market: Opened in April

Photo: Tim Parsons

Portland’s self-dubbed “first modern food hall” is a venue for some of the city’s top restaurants and artisans to experiment. Salt & Straw puts a twist on its iconic ice cream with soft-serve-centric Wiz Bang Bar, while Olympia Provisions focuses exclusively on hot dogs at OP Wurst. The only non-local vendor is Tokyo-based Marukin Ramen—a worthy exception indeed. “It’s gangbusters in here at lunch,” Mike Thelin, the market’s culinary curator, says. No doubt.

New York City’s Great Northern Food Hall: Opened in June

Photo: Signe Birck

With the backdrop of footsteps crossing Grand Central’s marble floors, Claus Meyer’s Nordic food hall is as refined a newcomer as the terminal could expect. Delicate touches—a box for smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches), for instance, reads “open rye” instead of “open sesame”—and elegant fare make it a reprieve in the heart of NYC. “We are bringing a lot of new flavors [think rhubarb, sea buckthorn and skyr smoothies] that people might not be used to,” Meyer says. “However, I strongly believe once people try the food, they will return again and again.”

Chicago’s Revival Food Hall: Opening early August

Photo: Jason Little Photography

Though Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, the Loop has left a lot to be desired—until now. Revival brings some of the city’s best restaurants under one roof, and with a coffee shop-cum-bar and an indie record store, the business district has a chance to morph into Chi-town’s next hot neighborhood. Partners Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden hope people return to the office rejuvenated or head home feeling relaxed. “You know, everyone likes to hang out in the kitchen,” Golden says.

Baltimore’s R. House: Opening early fall 2016

Photo: Courtesy of R House

Featuring 10 original restaurant offerings run by mostly Baltimore-based chefs, R. House will be an incubator of sorts. “[The market is] perfect for fostering new ideas,” general manager Peter DiPrinzio says. In addition to a Korean BBQ restaurant run by two sisters, a fried chicken spot and a vegetable-forward one, there will also be a pop-up kitchen with rotating chefs. Sounds like Baltimore may be the new place to scout the country’s next big chefs.  

Brooklyn’s Gotham Market at The Ashland: Opening fall 2016

Photo: Courtesy of Mu Ramen via Facebook

One of Manhattan’s most successful food halls is heading across the river to Downtown Brooklyn this fall. A central bar brings a late-night option to the area, and predictable buzzwords will be present, too: rotisserie chicken, brick-oven pizza and ramen. (It’s Brooklyn after all.) No one’s complaining, however, especially since the latter is the first offshoot of Long Island City’s famed Mu Ramen. Expect lines.

Austin’s Fareground: Opening spring 2017

Photo: Vanessa Escobedo Barba

In a city known for food trucks, Fareground will “bring established chefs and experienced restaurateurs in one place,” developer Bob Gillett says. Expect two bars, a bakery by Austin mainstay Easy Tiger, a cheesemonger, burger shop and biscuit vendor selling homemade country ham, fried chicken and egg dishes. Since this is Austin, there will also be tacos.

Washington, D.C.’s Isabella Eatery: Opening early 2017

Photo: Courtesy of Isabella Market

D.C. chef and Top Chef alum Mike Isabella calls the project “by far the biggest we’ve ever taken on,” referring to his upcoming market at Tysons Galleria, which will include 10 new and existing Isabella establishments. You’ll find a cocktail bar, a Mediterranean-style steakhouse, a coffee shop and a retro soda fountain that will have kid-friendly as well as boozy options. “I worked in a Carvel when I was 13, so it kind of comes full circle,” Isabella says.

No matter where you find yourself this year, don’t miss these spectacular markets. Though they may feel American in spirit, as Claus Meyer says, these food halls are also “a window to the world.”

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