The South's Best Food Halls
Fort Worth, TX
While many food halls offer a plethora of international options, this Fort Worth gem that opened almost a year ago concentrates on uno: authentic Mexican cuisine. You won’t find any Tex-Mex here—just classic dishes from the interior of Mexico. You can order at various stations located around this self-proclaimed “Mexi-Food Hall” or decide to sit with your group while a waiter brings whatever you like. You might come for the $5 margaritas offered during happy hour, but you’ll stay for the savory Mexican fare such as the Street Tacos al Pastor, which feature pork marinated in 17 spices, roasted, and topped with grilled pineapple. Fresh ceviche dishes include shrimp with lime, capers, and olives and other creative combinations. Decadent, chocolate-laced mole sauce and fresh corn tortillas make the enchiladas as authentic as you’ll find in North Texas, while the food hall’s contemporary interiors channel a sophisticated hotel lobby in Mexico City. An outdoor green space where kids play soccer makes this a family-friendly location. On the weekends, students from nearby Texas Christian University hang out as a DJ plays tunes at this hot spot offering the freshest of takes on Mexican cuisine.
The Barn at The Summit at Fritz Farm
Reflecting the local horse racing culture, The Barn features rustic-chic food stands that resemble horse stalls, with reclaimed barnwood and Kentucky-sourced fixtures. All the chefs and food purveyors live in Lexington, but that doesn’t mean guests won’t enjoy international flavors. Local food star and chef Ouita Michel’s freestanding eatery (called Honeywood) anchors the hall, while chef Dan Wu offers ramen bowls soaked in delicious, savory homemade broths, along with small bites, at his Atomic Ramen. Chef Ilias Pappas grew up in Greece, and classic dishes such as the Greek Beef Stew on his Athenian Grill menu came from his family recipes. But what would a food hall in Kentucky be without any bourbon? Take a swig at Whiskey Bear while you decide what to try next.
Bottling Department Food Hall
San Antonio, TX
At Bottling Department, five walk-up food counters and a bar make a lively addition to the array of restaurants at Pearl, a mixed-use complex along the Museum Reach of the River Walk. Constructed where the original bottling building stood at historic Pearl Brewery, the small-scale food hall incorporates the original cornerstone and Bottling Department signage. The purveyors invited to participate come from respected restaurants, catering businesses, or bars at Pearl or from elsewhere in the city, and they more than meet the high expectations for San Antonio’s burgeoning food scene. Choose from savory noodle bowls at Tenko Ramen; gorgeous, gluten-free, organic vegetable bowls at health-conscious The Good Kind; the chicken or pork belly and collards at Bud’s Southern Rotisserie; or a delicious old-fashioned patty from Fletcher’s Hamburgers. Have a confection at Maybelle’s Donuts or a drink from The Bar at Bottling Dept. Just outside, children play on a splash pad called Gustav’s Geysers. Couples lounge in the adjacent Parkito (public park), enjoying their food and scheduled entertainment. “It’s a place to see where San Antonio is really coming together,” says Elizabeth Fauerso of Pearl. “It feels like a gathering spot, and that was the intention.”
Slated to open in phases beginning early this year, Central Fare provides an epicurean feature to a brand-new transportation hub, MiamiCentral, where Brightline trains will offer high-speed rail service to other cities in Southeast Florida. With space for more than 20 food vendors, Central Fare will become a culinary destination even if you plan to stay put. “It’s the new center of gravity for Miami food,” says Christian Lecole, a spokesperson for the development, which blends retail, office, and dining spaces alongside the train station. “We’re bringing a very broad spectrum of options—from traditional Latin flavors to local ice cream.” Anchoring the assortment will be Monger—a creative concept from brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, chefs and restaurateurs who have appeared on the Bravo network’s Top Chef and other television shows. At Monger, guests can “shop” for locally sourced ingredients as if they were really at a butcher, fishmonger, or greengrocer and then order up dishes that incorporate them. “Our restaurant decor is inspired by the mid-century grocery store,” Bryan explains, adding that he and Michael, who have family ties in South Florida, are excited to join a market environment featuring curated artisan producers, coffee roasters, and other high-end purveyors. The first to open, along with Monger, will be Parliament Espresso & Coffee Bar, 800 Degrees, Rosetta, and other local concepts. You’ll willingly miss your train to eat at Central Fare.
Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market
The thriving food hall at Ponce City Market reclaims a once-fading part of Atlanta. “This city has torn down so much of its past,” says chef Linton Hopkins. “[Ponce] is speaking to the roots of Atlanta.” Hopkins is lending his talents to this food hall, which is part of a mammoth mixed-use development inside an old Sears, Roebuck and Co. building. Reinvestment in the city is important to the chef, who has added his acclaimed Hop’s Chicken counter (with condiments such as Frim Fram sauce, described as a “pickle-tomato mayonnaise”) and H&F Burger joint (which offers succulent beef, bison, and lamb patties) to the litany of regional eateries and retail outlets situated here. Central Food Hall joins similar establishments in town, such as the esteemed Krog Street Market and newcomer The Battery Atlanta, located outside the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park. Food halls serve as “entertainment zones” rather than just restaurants, Hopkins explains. “It’s sort of like why I love going to the French Quarter: People often visit there without knowing where they’ll eat and say, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ” High-profile chefs like Hopkins and fellow James Beard Award winners Anne Quatrano and Sean Brock add to the reputation of Central Food Hall, which makes way for plenty of newcomers amid almost 30 regional, cultural, and experimental eateries—not just reinvesting in Atlanta but reinvigorating it.
“Isabella Eatery is one of a kind,” says restaurateur and chef Mike Isabella, known for his establishments in the Washington, D.C., area. He has brought versions of some of those, along with a few new concepts, under one roof at Isabella Eatery. “It’s more of an emporium,” Isabella explains. While most food halls feature independently owned spaces that reflect world cuisine, his food bazaar covers a similar spectrum, but almost all the ideas are his own. Many of the dining spots here offer full service, but people can order at the counter as well. At this 41,000-square-foot space that’s located inside an upscale mall, guests also can choose to sit in the common dining area, where they can order favorites from Pepita, a Mexican cantina; Isabella’s flagship Italian restaurant, Graffiato; Yona, for sushi and poke; Requin Oysters & Champagne by fellow chef Jennifer Carroll; Arroz, a Spanish concept; and Octagon Bar. You will also enjoy Retro Creamery, retail spaces, a grab-and-go Greek market, and a java shop that Isabella named Nonfiction Coffee, which is the chef’s way of letting his customers know just how seriously he takes his coffee beans.
This 55,000-square-foot facility had a late-2017 debut and features an outdoor music venue for homegrown acts, making it more than just a dining destination. With contributions from what developers call a “who’s who of chefs,” the eclectic mix includes about 30 food and beverage stalls and some passionate vendors. “I remember being really impressed by how into Belgian waffles the guys at Press Waffle Co. were,” says Randy Dewitt about brothers Bryan and Caleb Lewis. Dewitt is leading the project, set north of Dallas. His longtime business collaborator Pat Garza adds, “I want our food hall to be a place where you can discover something new.” For instance, Legacy Hall resident Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co. developed a tiki beer to pair with dishes from a seafood stall nearby. You can take a tour of Unlawful Assembly on Legacy’s third floor and then ride down a spiral slide to return to the lower level while a dumbwaiter lowers your beer. Later, you can decide whether to sample poke at Freshfin Poke Co., frozen pops at Berrynaked, or bao (Asian steamed buns) at Enter The Bao. Afterward, venture outside to enjoy the band.
Mae’s Food Hall
Some travelers see Cullman as a great place to fill up the tank and grab a snack before hopping back on I-65 toward destinations in bigger cities. But beyond the gas stations and the Cracker Barrel is a hidden, historic downtown making some major modern moves. The biggest is Mae’s Food Hall—a social hot spot with a wood-fired pizzeria, a cocktail bar, a hot dog vendor, an ice-cream shop with a Mexican influence, a taqueria, and even a vintage arcade—located in Cullman’s restored Warehouse District. The space’s interior design, with reclaimed-wood tables (one that’s built into a swing set), repurposed bottle rack chandeliers, and big garage door windows might make Mae’s look metropolitan, but the food hall’s emphasis on community seating brings the small-town charm.
The Market at the Dallas Farmers Market
With six anchor restaurants and a mix of 20 food and artisanal vendors, this 26,000-square-foot food hall adds another dimension to a typical day spent at the farmers’ market. From the traditional Indian fare at 8 Cloves to island flavors at Caribbean Cabana or Neapolitan pizza served at BellaTrino, you can explore international cuisine while you are deep in the heart of Texas. Home cooks will delight in the chef-prepared stocks they can purchase at Stocks & Bondy before stepping over to Scardello Artisan Cheeses. Shop at the Market Provision Co. knowing that, through a program called GROW North Texas, a portion of your purchase price will benefit local low-income families in need of healthy food. Toast your culinary adventure with a cold brew from Noble Rey Brewing Co.
Morgan Street Food Hall & Market
Like many of the other food halls popping up across the South, this one in Raleigh’s growing Warehouse District inhabits a historic building—in this case, an old U.S. Post Office depot. Owner and developer Niall Hanley’s brand-new operation houses 14 concepts, some from established Raleigh restaurateurs and others from novice chefs. The butcher shop, Hook & Cleaver, offers cheeses, breads, and charcuterie. Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Dan Yeager presents Cow Bar for burger enthusiasts. Cousins Maine Lobster brings the crustacean fresh from North Atlantic waters to the Triangle. You’ll find rolled Thai ice cream at Raleigh Rolls and “some really cool chocolate-dipped cheesecake” at Cocoa Forte, Hanley says, along with food hall staples such as pizzerias and juice bars. “An entire generation is dictating how they want to eat,” says Hanley about the growing food hall trend. “The new way of dining is to spend 45 minutes eating and 15 minutes Instagramming. But people can’t decide what they want to eat. Here, it’s all about organic and it’s all about fresh.”
The Pizitz Food Hall
Like many Alabamians, Pizitz Food Hall developer Jeffrey Bayer of Bayer Properties remembers running up the escalator to see glimmering Christmas displays during the Pizitz department store heyday. But now it’s the various local and internationally themed offerings from food stalls and restaurants at the renovated retail space that have people running back for more. Nostalgia is the secret ingredient in this culinary showplace, drawing tourists, foodies, downtown workers, and the residents of apartments also housed in the restored 1923 building. Sample the down-home creations at The Alabama Biscuit Co., which elevates this breakfast staple with wholesome grains and a range of creative toppings. Or try authentic shawarma, meat lovingly spit roasted by the Israeli owner of Eli’s Jerusalem Grill. You can also enjoy happy hour at The Louis, a bar named for Louis Pizitz, the building’s original owner. Bayer Properties’ Lindsay Shipp notes that the food hall gets additional energy from its interesting retail shops, including Warby Parker eyewear and Magic City-themed merchandise from popular Yellowhammer Creative. Pizitz also contains office spaces and will soon become the new home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival.
Set in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Remington, less than 15 minutes from Baltimore’s popular Inner Harbor, R. House came by its name honestly. The food hall borrows an “R” from its location, while the sound of its moniker—similar to “our house”—nods to the concept of community. The collection of 10 food stalls, along with a bar and one pop-up space for rotating chefs, inhabits a reclaimed body shop and provides a new culinary hot spot for locals and tourists in Baltimore. “We have been happy to see R. House become a real gathering place,” says Stephanie Hsu, the food hall’s director of marketing and events. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with plenty of light, and when the weather is nice, glass-paned garage doors roll up for a breezy, open-air ambience. Dining options at this food hall range from Hawaiian-themed Hilo, with a variety of fresh offerings like poke bowls and sushi burritos, to Stall 11, which elevates veggies to main dish status. Locals make room for tourists at R.bar, where everyone can enjoy tasty craft cocktails while relishing a new lunch or dinner spot that takes them far beyond the more typical fish-and-chips pubs and chains you’ll find elsewhere. “Everyone at R. House has something going on around the city,” says Hsu, whether it’s the pizza-stall owners’ involvement with the urban agriculture movement or others working in different restaurants around town. “R. House helps them find a way to start a restaurant, be a part of the creative movement happening in Remington, and keep costs to a minimum. They can just focus on the thing they do best.”
The South Main Market
On the first floor of a newly renovated, three-story 1912 building, you’ll find Memphis’ first food hall, which opened in late 2017. Behind its redbrick facade, The South Main Market caters to locals as well as tourists. Rebecca Dyer, who leads the family-run operation, respects the city’s blues-and-barbecue tradition but wanted to introduce a new kind of epicurean experience to the mix. Located downtown in the Historic Arts District, The South Main Market serves as a neighborhood gathering spot where diners enjoy everything from sushi to bagels and lox. Vendors include florist Wallflower Memphis, coffee shop Java Cabana, and Civil Pour, offering craft cocktails and elevated bar food. You’ll find a brand-new distillery within walking distance, and the National Civil Rights Museum is nearby too. There’s even a convenient trolley line that stops in the neighborhood. A contrast to more polished food halls in the South, the market glories in its exposed brick and beams—a grittier interpretation just right for Memphis.
St. Roch Market
New Orleans, LA
Will Donaldson, cofounder and entrepreneur of this food hall (originally built in 1875 as an open-air market), looks at the Crescent City’s up-and-coming chefs—those who are second in command in its many kitchens—and says, “Let’s go find the next stars.” Then he gives them an excellent place to hone their culinary skills. “It’s an amazing [way] for a creative chef to get off the ground,” he says. Diners sit in a soaring space shaped by reclaimed cast-iron columns and accented by white marble countertops. It feels grand and historic—more formal than other food halls. “We serve everything on a china plate or in a wineglass with a stem,” says Donaldson. Guests can sample offerings—some with playful twists—from 12 vendors spanning a variety of traditions, including Vietnamese, Latin, Mediterranean, Creole, and Haitian. For instance, empanadas from Argentinian restaurateurs fuse French puff pastry with local crawfish étouffée at a new stall called Empanola. Inspired by the food halls he saw while living in Spain about 10 years ago, Donaldson has created a concept that he can replicate across the United States, developing a sleeker South Florida version of St. Roch Market in the Miami Design District. He’s also planning to open another New Orleans food hall, Auction House Market, in the Warehouse District.
Urban Food Market
Say “Ciao!” to this terrific food hall-style addition to The Centre of Tallahassee, an upscale mall. The brainchild of Florida foodies, friends, and chefs with Italian ties and heritage, Urban Food Market is a Stateside approximation of a contemporary Italian village, and you won’t believe how delicious the food is here. Sample tangy-sweet frozen treats at Fiocco Gelato Café, sip Italian wines at Vinoteca Tappo, and buy quality cuts at Becher Meat & Provisions. You can stop by Iolo Pizza to grab an authentic slice, or build your own pasta at Digia, which offers gourmet fare on the go. For a more formal meal, don’t miss updated Italian classics by chef Alessandro Di Maggio at +39. (Born in France but with Italian family roots, he has earned the nickname “Italian Ratatouille.”) The antipasti menu alone is worth the trip, with dishes such as Burrata, Pomodoro e Basilico (which partners basil and organic tomatoes with a double-cream mozzarella and balsamic glaze).
To the venerable food scene of downtown Charleston comes Workshop, a food hall curated by local favorite Butcher & Bee, with space for a rotating group of new or experimenting chefs. “Having a unified area where restaurants are able to cross promote, collaborate, and bring business to each other is simply amazing,” says operations manager Jonathan Ory. “I love watching chefs get inspired by one another and seeing the dishes evolve organically and receive such great customer response.” It’s this “incubator aspect” that attracts local chefs at all stages of their careers—whether they have well-established restaurants and just want to explore new ideas or are preparing to take the next step up from food truck gigs. Workshop offers a low-cost way to invest in a future in the restaurant world. “We’re really excited about our current tenants,” says Ory. “Sambar just moved in, bringing a great new Indian option to peninsular Charleston.” As negotiations continue with the next batch of tenants, diners will likely try something new each time they visit. “It’s ideal for families and groups because there are so many different things to choose from. Or you can grab a lot of everything and share,” Ory says.