The food hall phenomenon has officially transcended trendiness. These sprawling markets showcasing a variety of mini-restaurants and retail food vendors under one roof have spread like wildfire in recent years, and don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon: The number of food halls in the U.S. grew by 37 percent in 2016 — there are now more than 100 of them scattered across the country — and that figure is predicted to double by 2019, according to data from commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield as cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Already having conquered cities including New York, LA, Portland, Atlanta, and Denver, food halls are spreading further and wider afield to pop up in markets like San Antonio and Lexington, Kentucky. They’re on track to conquer the south in 2017, with at least nine developments slated to open across the region this year, from Birmingham to Raleigh to Alpharetta, Georgia.
There’s no denying that food halls are changing the way many Americans dine out: Mid-priced restaurants are having a tough go of things as rents and wages rise and many Americans turn to fast-casual chains or meal kits, leading chef David Chang to recently warn of an impending affordable restaurant apocalypse. The market is shifting to accommodate food halls. Diners appreciate them for their myriad (and typically affordable) options, and real estate developers have come to see them as an attractive option for anchoring the ground floor of their buildings.
Of course, not everyone is a believer when it comes to food halls: For folks in markets that are already saturated with them (read: New Yorkers), food halls may already seem passe. New York Post food critic Steve Cuozzo recently wrote that “having too many of them, serving too many of the same things, is diluting their one-time specialness.” And while many food hall projects get a boost from satellite locations of famous purveyors — think Brooklyn’s famous pizzeria DiFara, or legendary Katz’s Delicatessen — some critics say these offshoots can be lacking in quality compared to the originals.
Other complaints include crowded spaces, long lines, lack of ambience, and general sensory overload with diners being bombarded with too many different options. But developers are learning as they go along: Brooklyn’s new DeKalb Market has a bare-bones design that enables it to rotate out underperforming vendors with ease, and other developers are taking steps to reduce noisiness or working with vendors to simplify menus to avoid decision fatigue.
But for much of the country, food halls are still a new and exciting concept. Following in the footsteps of Eataly, some are even getting ready to multiply: St. Roch Market, which hit New Orleans back in 2015, has set its sights on expansion, with additional locations planned for Nashville and Miami.
Celebrity chefs are getting in on the act, too: In addition to NYC’s long-awaited Bourdain Market, which will showcase an Anthony Bourdain-curated selection of street food vendors from all over the world, super chef José Andrés is teaming up with the Adrià brothers for a food hall at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, and former Iron Chef Jose Garces broke ground last year on a Latin-centric food hall in Chicago.
Here now, a look at the most interesting new food halls across the country that have opened in the past six months or are still yet to come:
NEW YORK CITY
Hudson Yards Food Hall
Location: West Side, Manhattan
Projected opening: Fall 2018
Superchef José Andrés is teaming up with modernist cuisine masters Ferran and Albert Adrià for a massive 35,000-square-foot food hall at the up-and-coming Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side. It sounds like a Spanish version of Eataly: The ambitious concept (which will be the Adriàs’ first project on U.S. soil) will include a market area with various vendors for stand-up dining — “like San Miguel Market in Madrid,” Albert recently told Eater — as well as multiple restaurants including a tapas bar, and plenty of retail for visitors to pick up imported goods such as jamón and olive oil. (Hudson Yards is being touted as the largest private real estate development in the history of the U.S. and will also be home to new restaurant concepts from Thomas Keller and David Chang, among others.)
DeKalb Market Hall
Location: Downtown Brooklyn
Opened June 2017
Food halls are a dime a dozen in NYC these days, but the brightest new entrant in the field is the sprawling DeKalb Market Hall. According to Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema, “the offerings hit a higher level of scrumptiousness than at most other food courts in town,” with a mixture of new startups alongside offshoots of established brick-and-mortar concepts adding up to 40 vendors. Legendary pastrami sandwich destination Katz’s Delicatessen has a branch here, as do Queens’ famous Arepa Lady, Gowanus barbecue spot Fletcher’s, ice cream purveyor Ample Hills Creamery, and Brooklyn-based Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. There’s also sushi, pierogies, hand-pulled Chinese noodles, churros, tacos, crepes, doner kebab, paella, a seafood market, and a cocktail bar.
Location: Tysons Corner, Virginia
Projected opening: Fall 2017
D.C. empire builder and Top Chef alum Mike Isabella is transforming the entire top story of the massive Tysons Corner shopping mall into a food hall home to a bevy of his own concepts. Among the eight dining options for mall-goers will be several offshoots of existing Isabella restaurants, including his flagship Italian restaurant, Graffiato; Spanish restaurant Arroz; sushi bar Yona; and Mexican restaurant Pepita, plus Kapnos Marketa, featuring grab-and-go Greek food, as well as a coffee shop, ice cream parlor, and cocktail bar. Phase one of the food hall is set to open in the fall, with the whole shebang set to be up and running by Thanksgiving.
Legacy Food Hall
Projected opening: October 2017
The ritzy Dallas suburb of Plano will get its first food hall this fall at the new Legacy West development. The sprawling 55,000-square-foot project will encompass 20-plus stalls and seven bars spanning three stories. Notable tenants will include Knife Burger, a high-end burger venture from chef John Tesar, a fried chicken shack from Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry, and a barbecue spot from Chili’s founder Larry Lavine; there will also be poke, a wine bar, a taqueria, popsicles, fancy doughnuts, bao, a bakery, a coffee shop, Neapolitan pizza, shawarma, lobster rolls, waffles, and a tiki bar, with one pop-up stall that will rotate new vendors on a regular basis. Rounding out the offerings will be a beer garden, a stage for live music, and a craft brewery and taproom.
Location: Downtown Austin
Projected opening: November 2017
Austin’s got food truck parks galore, but its first food hall won’t land till this fall, taking over the lobby of the One Congress Plaza high-rise office tower downtown. The vendor lineup reads like a who’s-who of local favorites, including beer garden/bakery Easy Tiger, a taqueria from the Dai Due team, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, “ranch-to-table” favorite Contigo, sushi from the folks behind Kome, and an offshoot of grain-obsessed restaurant Emmer & Rye. The space will also include meeting and coworking spaces and indoor/outdoor seating.
The Bottling Department
Location: Pearl District, San Antonio
Opened: July 2017
The latest food hall to hit Texas landed this summer at the Pearl in San Antonio, the same complex that’s home to acclaimed barbecue spot the Granary, chef Steve McHugh’s charcuterie-focused restaurant Cured, and a Culinary Institute of America campus. The tenants are all homegrown, with a lineup comprised of noodle shop Tenko Ramen; Maybelle’s, an offshoot of local favorite Bakery Lorraine serving doughnuts, soft-serve, and fried pies; healthy cafe the Good Kind; Bud’s Southern Rotisserie, featuring rotisserie chicken and Louisiana-style comfort food; and Fletcher’s Hamburgers, where burgers are made from a blend of short rib, chuck, and brisket and served on brioche buns. A bar features a beer and wine selection selected by local sommelier Scott Ota.
Location: Brickell, Miami
Projected opening: December 2017
Miami’s first food hall hits the Brickell City Centre development this winter, just south of downtown in the booming Brickell neighborhood that’s become the city’s financial center. The Italian food hall concept, spearheaded by NYC restaurateur Jacopo Giustiniani and restaurant management veteran Matthias Kiehm, will span 40,000 square feet over three stories. The first floor will be home to a market selling produce, imported meats, and cheeses, and gifts, while the second story will sport multiple restaurants and bars inspired by the various regions of Italy; the third floor will be devoted to wine and a cooking school.
Also on the way for Miami: St. Roch Market (2018)
Projected opening: September 2017
Food halls continue to sweep the South with the impending debut of the Barn at Lexington’s high-end the Summit at Fritz Farm mixed-use development. The Barn will feature an all-local all-independent culinary lineup. Tenants include a superhero-themed ramen shop by former MasterChef competitor Dan Wu called Atomic Ramen; Greek street food from Athenian Grill, “craft” ice cream by Crank & Boom; Smithtown Seafood; local fried chicken and grass-fed burgers at Pasture by Marksbury Farms; and a cocktail bar called Whiskey Bear. (The lineup was curated with the assistance of Dallas-based restaurant group Rebees — aka the new employer of former Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner.) Design will pay tribute to the property’s former tobacco barns with “farm-chic” art and reclaimed wood.
Morgan Street Food Hall & Market
Location: Warehouse District, Raleigh
Projected opening: Fall 2017
One of at least four food hall concepts slated to hit the Research Triangle this year, the 22,000-square-foot Morgan Street Food Hall will be home to more than a dozen dining options. Many, such as Makus Empanadas, Wicked Taco, Oak City Fish & Chips, and Carroll’s Kitchen (a nonprofit with the aim of ending homelessness for women) are expansions of existing local restaurants. The Shark Tank-famous food truck Cousins Maine Lobster is opening its first N.C. storefront at Morgan Street, and it will also be home to other new concepts serving oh-so-trendy rolled ice cream, wood-fired pizza, sushi, boba tea, crepes, and more.
Projected opening: Spring 2018
The developer — previously on the team behind Atlanta's hit Krog Street Market — hopes to replicate that success with a smaller food hall in the suburb of Alpharetta. Set to include five dining options, confirmed tenants so far include local popsicle purveyor King of Pops (which also has a location at Ponce City Market) and Nashville-based breakfast spot Biscuit Love. In addition to 14,000 square feet of dining space, The Daily will also be home to a large courtyard featuring live music, games, and other entertainment.
Portland Food Hall
Location: Downtown Portland
Opened April 2017
Portland got its first food hall last fall with the opening of the long-awaited Pine Street Market and was quickly followed by Cart Lab (which just announced its closure after a short, 10-month lifespan). Portland Food Hall arrived the following spring, bringing seven micro-restaurants, a cocktail bar, and communal dining space. Tenants include a coffee shop, Cosa; juice bar Moberi; healthy bowl purveyor the Whole Bowl; chicken sandwich spot Boke Dokie (which began its life as a food cart); Aiko Ramen; and the aforementioned Minibar.
Opened April 2017
Charleston’s first food hall bills itself as an “exploratory food court.” Workshop has just one permanent tenant, a coffee shop called Bad Wolf; the other five stalls rotate concepts on a staggered schedule, giving patrons a compelling reason to keep coming back. The current lineup includes New York-style pizzeria Slice Co.; Vietnamese food by Pink Bellies, a popular local food truck; Slider Gold, serving Japanese-inspired sliders and snacks; healthy bowls from Beech Test Kitchen; and a Tex-Mex offshoot of acclaimed Lewis Barbecue called Juan Luis. Visitors can dine indoors or outdoors at communal tables.