This dining trend isn’t going anywhere
The American food hall boom is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. Well-established in trend-setting cities like New York and LA, these multifaceted culinary marketplaces are spreading like wildfire to major metropolitan areas such as Denver, Dallas, Detroit, and Austin, and even Ohio and Alabama. Some are akin to fancy food courts, while others incorporate more of a market feel with plenty of retail — but all rely heavily on local chefs and food artisans to create communal drinking and dining spaces.
The announcement of a brand-new food hall might elicit eye-rolling in some; but the concept is definitely here to stay.
While the nearly 10 new halls that have been announced in the past eight months serve to further prove the trend’s got legs, work continues on several previously-announced projects. Perhaps the most anticipated of them all is Bourdain Market, the global street food marketplace culinary explorer Anthony Bourdain is bringing to Manhattan. It now officially has a home (the gigantic Pier 57 development in Chelsea) and has announced some details about confirmed vendors (an eclectic lineup that will include everyone from a Mexican tostada vendor to April Bloomfield). In Portland, Oregon, Pine Street Market is gearing up for an April 1 debut with everything from an Israeli restaurant to a soft-serve ice cream bar by the beloved Salt & Straw. And in Detroit, the forthcoming shipping container project known as Detroit ShipYard has found a site in the Cass Corridor and is aiming for a July opening with five restaurant concepts and two bars.
But as tends to happen with any trend approaching ubiquity, the mere mention of the phrase “food hall” can now elicit eye-rolling in some. (Once a trend reaches Birmingham, Alabama, does that mean New Yorkers must be totally over it?) Some have argued that food halls, with their many dining options squeezed into one space, somehow diminish the dining experience by homogenizing it. But regardless of how you feel about them, it’s clear that food halls are here to stay — and particularly in cities that aren’t already saturated by the trend, locals are pumped for their arrival.
Here now, a look at new food halls that have been announced over the past six months:
Location: 111 Congress St., Downtown
Projected Opening: Spring 2017
Designed by restaurant architect Michael Hsu, Austin’s first-ever food hall will invade the lobby of a high-rise office building with a concept modeled after New York’s Gotham West Market. The only confirmed vendor for now is popular beer garden and bakery Easy Tiger; six more local restaurant concepts are expected to join the fray, and there will be indoor and outdoor seating to cater to lunch, happy hour, and dinner crowds.
Location: 301 W. 29th St., Remington
Projected Opening: Fall 2016
With a little imagination and a lot of cash, a 50,000-square-foot historic auto showroom is being transformed into Baltimore’s first food hall. R. House will be home to 10 different culinary concepts from established local chefs, plus a central bar serving craft cocktails, beer, and wine. The first concept to be confirmed is chef Dave Sherman’s breakfast spot Ground & Griddled, which will serve Stumptown coffee and made-to-order egg sandwiches. A rotating pop-up stall will offer an opportunity for chefs both local and visiting to test out new concepts short-term.
Pizitz Food Hall
Location: 1821 2nd Ave. N., Downtown
Projected Opening: Fall 2016
The food hall trend reaches Alabama with the impending opening of Pizitz Food Hall, a revamp of a downtown department store dating back to 1923. Plans are for two full-service restaurants, an outdoor seating and entertainment area, and an interior bar, along with several food stalls. Confirmed tenants so far include local roaster Domestique Coffee; paleta and ice cream vendor Lichita’s; an Asian dumpling concept; an independent cheese shop that will also serve sandwiches; a Korean restaurant specializing in bibimbap; and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with communal dining.
Uptown Urban Market
Location: 2600 Cedar Springs Rd., Uptown
Projected Opening: June 2016
The food hall trend is finally poised to sweep into Dallas this spring with Uptown Urban Market, taking over a 7,000-square-foot restaurant space on the ground floor of a residential building in trendy Uptown. The brainchild of seasoned real estate developer Jonathan Tobolowsky and experienced restaurateur Mark Brezinski, expect eight food stalls housing a variety of original concepts from established local chefs and restaurateurs including a speakeasy-type bar, a coffee shop, a fresh juice counter, sushi, pizza, and tacos. Indoor seating and a spacious patio will provide seating, but the focus will be on grab-and-go.
The Central Market
Location: 2669 Larimer St., RiNo
Projected Opening: Spring 2016
Chef Jeff Osaka and developer Ken Wolf are transforming a historic 1920s building into a 12,000-square-foot food hall housing 13 vendors. Confirmed tenants are coffee shop Crema Bodega, ice cream company High Point Creamery, a central cocktail bar called Curio, cheese and charcuterie bar Culture Meat & Cheese, Izzio Bakery, COCO Chocolates, fresh juice/produce vendor Green Seed, fresh pasta and pizza-focused Vero, a fish market, a butcher that also serves sandwiches, and SK Provisions, featuring rotisserie meats and prepared foods. Chef Justin Brunson of Old Major fame is also creating a new concept for the space.
Location: 2501 Dallas St., Aurora
Projected Opening: Summer 2016
Another historic building is being revived as a food hall in the Denver suburb of Aurora; in this case, it’s a 1950s aviation production facility sprawling 100,000 square feet. Situated on a 22-acre park, it will feature somewhere in the ballpark of 50 independent local businesses, including six restaurants, a beer garden, and a gourmet grocer. Confirmed vendors include a stationary version of food truck Rolling Smoke BBQ, Mexican street food spot Comida, New York-style deli and bagel shop Rosenberg’s, Denver Biscuit Company, and microbrewery Casita Brewing Company.
Location: 11022 Aviation Blvd., Westchester
Projected Opening: End of 2016
Southern California is no stranger to food halls (see: Grand Central Market and the newer 4th Street Market in Santa Ana, among others) and here comes another one: Proud Bird, a restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport, is being transformed into a 50,000-square-foot food hall. No confirmed vendors as of yet, but expect an area dedicated to food by Proud Bird in addition to an eclectic array of food and beverage kiosks, plus a full bar and communal dining and lounge areas. Hurry up and wait, because renovations on the space just began in February and are slated to take 10 months.
SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH
Van Aken District Food Hall
Location: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Projected Opening: Fall 2017
Situated roughly 10 miles outside Cleveland, Shaker Heights has unveiled grand redevelopment plans, turning the downtown Van Aken District into a modern, walkable mixed-use development with restaurants, indie retailers, luxury apartments, and yes, a 20,000-square-foot food hall. Detroit watchmaker Shinola may seem an unusual choice of anchor for a food hall, but the rest of the tenants will be decidedly more edible: A mix of restaurants and artisan makers will include Rising Star Coffee and two new concepts from the owners of local favorite Luna Bakery, plus at least nine more stalls from local chefs and entrepreneurs yet to be announced.
Location: 2001 International Dr., McLean, VA
Projected Opening: Summer 2017
The mall food court will never be the same: DC chef and Top Chef alum Mike Isabella is taking over a 40,000-square-foot space on the third floor of swanky shopping center Tysons Galleria, located 15 miles outside DC. Per Eater DC, 10 different dining options will include several established Isabella concepts: Namely, Graffiato (Italian), Kapnos (Mediterranean), Pepita (Mexican), Yona (noodles), and Requin (raw seafood). New ventures in the food hall will be Arroz (Spanish tapas), Octagon (cocktails), Trim (grilled meats), and Non-Fiction Coffee, as well as an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.