Modern food courts place many eateries together under one roof.
Call them marketplaces, food halls, or contemporary food courts—just don't label them cookie-cutter. Across the West, food courts are playing to today's growing appetite for fresh, handmade dishes, placing mostly small, local, independent eateries side by side.
The Hall, San Francisco
If San Francisco's The Hall feels unpolished, it's because it opened as a pop-up on an evolving stretch of Market Street. Even so, locals flock to enjoy live music on Tuesdays, occasional happy hours run by Bay Area nonprofits, and six vendors offering everything from Vietnamese spring rolls to sopes and pozole from Mexico's Guanajuato region. The Hall closes in mid-2017 for construction, after which the building will house apartments and new restaurants.
Oxbow Public Market, Napa
At Oxbow Public Market in the city of Napa, Calif., you get the full wine country experience distilled. In one long food hall, you'll find artisanal olive oil, full-bodied cabernets, locally made cheeses, pristine produce, organic ice cream, third-wave coffee, and just-shucked oysters. If it all strikes you as a bit much, grab a cheeseburger from Gott’s Roadside and a craft beer at the Berkeley-based Fieldwork Brewing Company’s new taproom on-site.
Pine Street Market, Portland
Pine Street Market puts together some of Portland’s sharpest culinary talent under one roof—with exposed beams, of course. Among the temptations near the center seating area are gourmet hot dogs from charcuterie maker Olympia Provisions, Israeli street food by John Gorham of Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons, and the Wiz Bang Bar, the only soft-serve stand hosted by the creamery Salt & Straw. Keep an eye out for guest chefs’ one-night-only collaborative dinners.
Public Market Emeryville
Long a destination for international eats just over the border from Oakland, Public Market Emeryville has jazzed itself up. The airy new interior still houses old favorites as Wazwan Indian Cuisine. But more recent purveyors are also luring patrons, who snap up spicy noodles at Shiba Ramen and Korean barbecue beef tacos at KoJa Kitchen. Star Peruvian chef Carlos Altamirano's casual outpost Granja Eatery opens in March.
Santa Barbara Public Market
The cheery buzz in the downtown arts district of Santa Barbara, Calif., grew louder with two additions to the 3-year-old Santa Barbara Public Market: a sparkling beer garden with upscale pub grub and 41 craft beers on tap, and the red-hot Mexican eatery Corazón Cocina. Other market attractions include Rori’s Artisanal Creamery (a must-try: salted caramel ice cream) and Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar (go for the roasted duck buns).
Avanti Food & Beverage, Denver
Launched in Denver as a testing ground for ambitious chefs, Avanti Food & Beverage delivers the goods. Seven rotating restaurants operating in repurposed shipping containers dish up made-from-scratch Venezuelan arepas, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas topped with local mushrooms, and certified sustainable sushi. Guests can settle in one of four communal dining areas or on a rooftop patio.
Melrose Market, Seattle
Think of Seattle's Melrose Market as the sophisticated sister of rollicking Pike Place Market. Instead of dodging flying salmon, you can savor small plates and Washington pinot noir at Bar Ferdinand or sample house-cured charcuterie or a porchetta sandwich at Rain Shadow Meats. Acclaimed Sitka & Spruce restaurant is among the 10 vendors that keep the place bustling.
Hukilau Marketplace, Oahu
Hukilau Marketplace, at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Oahu, offers a range of more traditional specialties. Fill up on a generous "plate lunch" of garlic chicken and rice at Tita's Grill. Savor Polynesian-style meat pies and Portuguese doughnuts at Aunty Emily’s Bakery. Or taste Hawaii's farm-to-table movement at Pounders Restaurant.
This article was first published in Winter 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
AAA Travel can help you plan your next vacation.