Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Repurposing older structures for food worshippers is becoming trendy
My first exposure to a food hall was probably the Reading Terminal Market in center-city Philadelphia, near to where I grew up. The market was really a large produce market that also had vendors selling specialty food items and a handful of dining options, which now includes Dinic’s famous roast pork sandwiches. The Granville Island Market in Vancouver mirrors the concept of local produce market and dining destination and sits on False Creek, which you can reach via ferry from the Yaletown neighborhood of downtown Vancouver.
Dedicated food halls, large and small, are now becoming more fashionable in Europe and the USA and this trend makes me very happy. I love a good food hall, especially when traveling with a group that has divergent tastes and/or dietary preferences. Terrific destination food halls are increasingly available in even the most unexpected places, like the Balti Jaam Market in Tallinn, Estonia where I found a vendor cooking Taiwanese bao sandwiches over a small BGE (Big Green Egg).
The Time Out Market in Lisbon is housed in the former Mercado da Ribeira Velha, which is an old waterfront market place across the street from one of Lisbon’s main train stations, Cais do Sodré. The novelty of taking one of Europe’s most scenic train journeys along the Estoril Coast into Lisbon and then having lunch at the Time Out Market is priceless.
In Amsterdam, the Foodhallen is located in a converted city tram depot in Amsterdam-West, comprising several cavernous warehouses filled with ethnic food stalls and bars. We could not get enough of the soft shell crab on bao buns at “le big fish” and washed these down at the gin and tonic bar offering a very inventive menu with different variations on our favorite cocktail.
Atlanta has a delicious food hall called Ponce City Market in a rejuvenated Sears, Roebuck & Company building. The food hall is only one part of a massive retail complex that has extended the life of a building that is nearly 100 years old. The developers of Ponce City Market also own the Chelsea Market in Manhattan and the approach was to create an authentically Atlanta dining experience.
Food halls are now popping up all over Chicago and one of the more distinctive is Latinicity. In late 2015, a Latin-themed food hall opened on the 3rd floor of the Block 37 retail complex in Chicago. It has a strong lunch following for dishes that represent interpretations of Mexican, Brazilian, Peruvian and other ethnic staples.
I have not been compensated by any of the establishments mentioned in this post. I am only a happy client.