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7 Exceptional American Food Halls

By Tobey Grumet Segal
July 3, 2019
Mexican food on trays
@legacyfoodhall/Instagram
From coast to coast, food halls are transforming casual dining into a sophisticated culinary adventure.

These days, savvy travelers have a more sophisticated option for fast-casual dining thanks to the growing trend of multi-vendor food halls. A trifecta of choice, atmosphere, and affordability, the best of these large, usually urban-based, eateries offer something for everyone while reveling in the spirit of their surroundings. In addition to showcasing native chefs, products, and cuisines, many food halls also offer locally sourced wine and beer as well as cocktails. Traveling with a family? Now everyone can find something they like. From New York City to Plano, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, this fun and informal way of chowing down offers culinary freedom to tourists and resident foodies alike.

1. Urbanspace Vanderbilt, NYC

Nothing says New York City like Grand Central, and this Midtown oasis is the perfect way to get acquainted with the city’s exciting culinary scene. Located on the ground floor of 230 Park Avenue, just one block north of the train station, the 12,000 square-foot food hall (urbanspacenyc.com/urbanspace-vanderbilt/) is packed with local vendors serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s even cocktails at Seamore’s NYC, a sustainable seafood purveyor and the newest mezzanine bar. Other notable tenants include Brooklyn Pizza legend Roberta’s; upper east side Greek darling Amali Mou, which serves pork, lamb, chicken, and veggie gyros; designer donut producer Dough dishing South American flavors like hibiscus and tropical chile. Or check out Asian eats from Mr. Bong Beijing Street Foods, Tukami Taco, Hai Street & Co., kbbq by Karilla, and Bangkok Bar.

2. Pine Street Market, Portland, OR

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Located in the historic Carriage & Baggage Building in downtown Portland, this cavernous food hall (pinestreetpdx.com) is an ode to the city’s varied dining scene and celebrated indie spirit. The industrial ground floor, which housed a string of Portland nightclubs since the 1980’s, is now home to nine Portland-based vendors, many of which are offshoots of local restaurants. Taking center stage, Olympia Provisions Annex pairs sausages and foot-long dogs with craft cocktails, Champagne and a well-chosen wine list. But don’t miss other standouts like Tokyo ramen joint Marukin; soft-serve wizard WizBangBar, specializing in magic-dip shells infused with freshly-shaved Oregon black truffles; Kim Jong Smokehouse, a Top-Chef helmed mash-up of Korean and Texas BBQ featuring a scorched rice noodle bibimbap bowl; and Mexican-inspired Pollo Bravo serving up rotisserie chicken and tapas-sized sides like papas bravos and salty/spicy chicken and serrano ham croquettes.

3. Legacy Hall, Plano, TX

Nobody can accuse this Plano food hall of being modest. A giant three-story dining destination in the Legacy West, a business district, Legacy Hall (legacyfoodhall.com) proffers access to over 20 food and drink vendors, including award-winning chefs like John Tesar. Long known for Knife, his Dallas steakhouse, Knife Burger is his food hall debut. In addition to its size, this extensive space is courting Millennials with cutting edge features. To whit: it operates on a no-cash basis and offers a refillable gift card called a Hall Pass. It’s a nifty place to hit during happy hour, as there are nine bars to choose from, including one dedicated to cocktails made with Texas-based Tito’s Vodka. Happily, the food is just as momentous. Favorites include Freshfin Poke Co. for build-your-own Poke; Tex-Mex inspired FAQ (flautas and quesadillas) known for modern, authentic fillings like Texas brisket and chicken chorizo; and the Dallas-offshoot of Sea Breeze Lobsta’ and Chowda House, featuring a wild caught lobster roll, thick with tarragon and celery-rich mayo and topped with luscious drawn butter.

4. Block 16 Urban Food Hall, Las Vegas, NV

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but nobody has been keeping quiet about the city’s massive and evolving restaurant scene. A plethora of upscale eateries can be found in Sin City, fronted by marquee names like Nobu Matsuhisa, Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Rick Moonen and Mario Carbone. It only goes to follow that a food hall was the next step to entice the fast-casual connoisseur. Enter Block 16 Urban Food Hall (cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/block16), a massive dining complex recently opened on the Las Vegas Strip, inside The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Tower. With six regional eateries offering a small-format taste of their chef’s standout foods and drinks, you’ll find foodie faves like Andy Ricker’s Vietnamese cult classic Pok Pok Wing showcasing its well-known crispy fried chicken wings smothered in fish sauce and sugar; New Orleans’s District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., serving 100 rotating doughnut flavors as well as handmade biscuit sandwiches and zippy nitro cold brew; and Takashi Segawa’s Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake turning out its signature spicy, creamy, crunchy Tekka Tuna roll and a wide range of sake to wash it down.

5. Workshop, Charleston, SC

Workshop (workshopcharleston.com) was originally founded as a rotating, fancy food court to help stoke the creative fires of local chefs. Now a daring food hall housing six kitchens with five stalls, it also doubles as an incubator for new business ideas and concepts from creative locals. And because the stands are swapped out each season, it fosters a fun, exploratory, and adventurous atmosphere for foodies of all stripes. The current line-up includes Thai Phi, the brick and mortar debut from the Vietnamese food truck of the same name, a Charleston favorite. Or hit Pink Bellies, where you can munch on crispy, panko-encrusted avocado fries and fried chicken skins with a spicy chili sauce bath, or Cuban/Southern eatery Spanglish Cuban Kitchen, which focuses solely on southern ingredients like the Edwards Country ham and TN Alpine cheese in the melty, chewy El Cubano sandwich. Thursday through Saturdays catch Merrows Garden Bar, a pop-up pouring a rotating selection of organic, biodynamic and small-batch wines by the glass or bottle.

6. The Wynwood Yard, Miami, FL

Al fresco dining is nothing new for Miami’s swinging restaurant culture. And though the urge to see and be seen has always gone hand in hand with the tropical swagger of the city’s culinary scene, the Wynwood Yard (thewynwoodyard.com) is a breath of fresh air—combining pop-up food stands with the cutting-edge art, entertainment, design, and entrepreneurial communities. This summer brought Charcoal, the food hall's first full-service restaurant, offering a beer garden, tapas, and a rotating, wholly seasonal menu of local meat, poultry, fish, and produce. Other current stalls include World Famous House of Mac, known for its indulgently creamy pasta bowl packed with five melted cheeses and truffles. (There’s also a vegan version.) Can’t make up your mind? Try the Friday night Taste of the Yard. $25 will score you five samples of food and drink.

7. Revival Food Hall, Chicago, IL

This 24,000 square-foot food hall (revivalfoodhall.com) and marketplace located in the Chicago Loop occupies the first floor of the historic National building, a circa-1907 bank designed by legendary architect Daniel Burnham. A varied collection of 15 stalls feature many spin-offs of neighborhood restaurants as well as some wholly new concepts from up-and-coming local chefs. The newest stands include Lito’s Empanadas, serving up elevated Mexican turnovers filled with everything from ground beef, rice, and a slightly spicy salsa to a blend of apples, caramel and cinnamon sugar. There's also Duck Inn’s new concept, Duck Inn Dogs, revolving around specialty beef and duck fat hot dogs with seasonal toppings like kimchi and house-made pickled hot peppers. Debuting in September, cutting-edge sushi spot Tomi will also feature a robot which quickly assembles high-quality rolls for a reasonable price.

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Inspiration

Meet Our Favorite Hotel Pets

From rescue pups and fluffy cats to talkative parrots and a family of penguins, adorable animals are doing double duty at hotels around the country. Not only do they make guests smile with free cuddles, many of them are also hotel "employees," fulfilling duties like leading guests on hikes, ringing the bell at the front desk, and leading philanthropic efforts in their communities. An added bonus? Research shows pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and isolation, which is good for hotel staff and guests alike. Get to know some of the cutest hotel pets out there, guaranteed to put a smile on your face the moment they greet you. Oreo at the Armstrong Hotel: Fort Collins, Colorado (Courtesy the Armstrong Hotel) The grand hostess of the Armstrong Hotel (thearmstronghotel.com), a historic property in Fort Collins that will reopen this April following a renovation, can often be found curled up in a window seat in the lobby or stretched out on the front desk. Adopted as a kitten 14 years ago, majestic Oreo is as popular with hotel guests as she is with locals. She has many friends who live in the area and come to visit her each week, and as such, she’s developed a few tricks to keep them entertained, like raising her paw for a high-five (for treats, of course). During winters in Colorado, Oreo tends to get a little stir crazy; come spring, you can find her sprawled out on the sidewalk enjoying the sunshine, much to the delight of Mugs Coffee Lounge visitors next door. Sasha at Bobby Hotel: Nashville, Tennessee (Courtesy Bobby Hotel) Adopted from a local shelter, Sasha arrived at the Bobby Hotel (bobbyhotel.com) in Nashville when it opened in April 2018. As the resident hotel dog (not to mention Instagram star, @ahoteldog), she takes her welcoming duties very seriously—greeting guests as they enter the lobby, playing fetch, and ringing her own gold bellman's bell. Though she’s been in her "forever home" less than a year, she’s already doing her part to give back to other animals who need rescuing: Towels in each guest room embroidered with Sasha’s face are available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the Country Road Animal Rescue, from which she was adopted. She was overjoyed to accompany the hotel team in bringing the shelter a check—along with much-needed items like dog beds, toys and food—after the holidays last year. Sunshine and Chance at The Palms Hotel & Spa: Miami Beach, Florida (Courtesy the Palms Hotel & Spa) These two birds might be the longest-standing residents of the Palms Hotel & Spa (thepalmshotel.com) in Miami Beach. Macaw parrots Sunshine, 18, and Chance, 29, first arrived at the resort as rescue animals 16 years ago, and have since become the property’s sociable mascots. They spend their days in the shade of the Little Gazebo, engaging in friendly conversation (Sunshine often says, “Hola!” in response to a greeting) and posing for selfies with guests passing by on their way for a swim. On at least one occasion, their proximity to the pool has led to the parrots engaging in a game of Marco Polo with kids, chiming in with a “polo!” call of their own. The lovable duo plan on enjoying many more years at the Palms, as the average life expectancy of macaws is about 50 years. Oreo, Nahu, Buddah, Zen, Mai, Tai, and Momi at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: Maui, Hawaii (Courtesy Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa) You might not expect to find penguins in Hawaii, but this unlikely group is living their best life in the tropical climate at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa (hyatt.com). African black-footed penguins, an endangered species, began their tenure on the island in 1985, when the wildlife team at the property rescued George, Waddles, and Oreo. The only remaining resident is Oreo—he’s outlived the average life expectancy of his species (roughly 10 to 20 years in the wild or 30 in captivity), though he now has a large ʻohana --that's Hawaiian for family--to keep him company. Guests can visit them any time in the atrium lobby, though the 9:30 a.m. feedings are a must-see. (Just watch out for Buddah, the bossy one). The resort also has parrots, swans, flamingos, ducks, and African-crowned cranes on the property and offers wildlife tours around the grounds three times a week. Katie and Betsy at the Betsy Hotel: South Beach, Florida (Courtesy the Betsy Hotel) Brought to their home at the Betsy Hotel (thebetsyhotel.com) as puppies by their owners, the Plutzik family, these beautiful golden retrievers (Katie, 14, and Betsy, 3) have become a bedrock of the community there. Officially dubbed Canine Executive Officers, the pair can almost always be found hanging out in the corner of the lobby, especially on Friday afternoons, when they engage with guests during a formal meet-and-greet called “CEO Cocktails with Katie and Betsy.” Both dogs keep a busy social calendar, making regular appearances at corporate meetings the hotel hosts, as well as philanthropic events around the community. Older and wiser, Katie is quite the muse; she even inspired a poem by award-winning poet Gerald Stern when he was a guest at the hotel. Hamlet at the Algonquin Hotel: New York City (Courtesy Algonquin Hotel) Though he’s been at New York City's Algonquin Hotel (algonquinhotel.com) for less than two years, this calm, playful ginger is already a celebrity, surveying the lobby's happenings from his "treehouse” perch atop the front desk. He particularly delights guests when he hops down for a personal greeting while they’re checking in. For a feline, he’s quite the patient little guy, allowing children to pet him, going nose-to-nose with visiting dogs, and occasionally flopping over for a belly rub. But it's not all play: Hamlet puts in long hours as the official DirectFurr of Public Relations for the hotel, a role that includes cohosting an annual cat fashion show for charity in August. Lucky for him, he’s handsomely rewarded for his work—guests frequently send him gifts like cards and toys. Cupcake at Salamander Resort and Spa: Middleburg, Virginia (Courtesy Salamander Resort & Spa) She's only 32 inches tall, but what this miniature pony lacks in size, she more than makes up for in personality. As the equine ambassador for Salamander Resort & Spa (salamanderresort.com) in Middleburg, which has an on-site equestrian center, she’s a star and she knows it. Find her in the lobby Friday and Saturday afternoons, clad in a blue rhinestone halter to welcome guests to the hotel. That’s only the start of her responsibilities, however: She’s in high demand for appearances at conferences and birthday parties (complete with custom cupcakes from the in-house pastry team) held on the property, and she even visits individual guest rooms upon request. In keeping with her diva status, Cupcake has a diva-caliber wardrobe for every occasion—think: red, white, and blue tutus for the Fourth of July, shamrock barrettes for St. Patrick’s Day, and red bows for Christmas. Mr. Nutkin at Deer Path Inn: Lake Forest, Illinois (Courtesy Deer Path Inn) Deer Path Inn (deerpathinn.com) has celebrated the legend of its resident squirrel for nearly 90 years, since the English-inspired manor first opened in Lake Forest. (Don’t worry, the little guy stays outside, though squirrel figurines are scattered throughout the interiors in his honor). Adventurous, curious, and amiable, the current Mr. Nutkin often greets guests at the entrance, standing guard like a British soldier. He's so well-known throughout the community that locals pop by in the hopes of spotting him through the windows of the English Room during afternoon tea service. “His warm and fuzzy presence completes the Deer Path Inn family,” says innkeeper Matt Barba. Notorious for having a full belly, especially in preparation for a Chicago winter, Mr. Nutkin once inspired a turndown snack of chocolate acorns. Zoey at Cloud Camp: Colorado Springs, Colorado (Courtesy Cloud Camp) Ever since she arrived at Cloud Camp (broadmore.com/cloud-camp), a lodge perched 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, in summer 2017, 6-year-old Zoey has started her day at 5:00 a.m. Her duties begin with the raising of the flag, followed by leading guests on hikes and welcoming visitors. Trained as a bird dog, she’s incredibly obedient, yet also very nurturing. Zoe once showed her softer side when a woman who was terrified of dogs arrived at the lodge; sensing that she needed special attention, the sweet pup spent time with her each day, gently helping her overcome her fear. The woman called it a life-changing experience, says Cloud Camp staff. When she’s not on duty, Zoey’s been known to mingle with royals. She once had her photo taken with the Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps of Belgium, the great-great-granddaughter of hotel's founders.

Inspiration

Hotel We Love: CityFlatsHotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan

There are “green” hotels and then there’s CityFlatsHotel. This Grand Rapids hotel, located smack in the middle of downtown, is as smart and environmentally minded as it is visually stunning and all-around cool. Here’s what to expect when you check in. The Story The City Flats in Grand Rapids is the second of three locations opened by Charter House Innovations, a furniture company based in Holland, Michigan. They retrofitted the hotel into a circa 1874 office building with a façade that stands as one of Grand Rapids’ earliest examples of a terra cotta frontage. With lobby countertops made of recycled glass and concrete, wood fixtures around the eatery and front desk made from panels reclaimed during the building process, and preservation of the brick walls built in 1874, CHI was so committed to ensuring a low environmental impact that the building earned LEED Gold certification. Most of the furniture in the rooms, like the bed frames and seating, as well as the lobby furniture, was design by and built at CHI. The Quarters With apologies to Forrest Gump, we tell you that City Flats’ rooms are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Each of the 48 rooms is individually designed with its own distinct paint, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and lighting. That’s all par for the course when a design house is calling the shots. What does stay the same throughout, however, are the eco-minded touches, like cork floors, bamboo bedding, locally manufactured beds, and energy-efficient heating and cooling units that are sensor-operated, so they turn down when the room is unoccupied. There are five options for room sizes, like single queen and single king, plus a junior suite and a luxe master suite. The Neighborhood If location is what you're after, make this your pick. The hotel is surrounded by a cute coffee shop, a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant, and a hodgepodge of other eateries and cafes. It's a quick scoot to Ionia Street, a thoroughfare lined with brewpubs and other restaurants. A 10-minute walk down the road takes you to City Market, a locally minded food hall. And all that's to say nothing of the hotel's illustrious neighbor, the world-class Grand Rapids Art Museum. It's an excellent base camp for culture vultures of all stripes, as the Gerald Ford Museum and the kid-friendly Public Museum are about a 15-minute walk away across the Grand River. The Food The coffee's always on at CityBru Coffee, the coffee bar at the front desk that also features a concession selection, includes granola bars made by the owner. But the real attraction here—for guests and locals alike—is CitySen (pronounced: city scene) Lounge, the lobby eatery opened for lunch and dinner every day with the exception of Sunday, when it opens at 4 p.m. Happy hour is a daily event here, with bites like bacon maple brussels sprouts, arranccini, and tacos topping off at $6. There are drinks specials, too. All the Rest Like the bed? The linens? You can buy it through Charter House Innovations website (gotochi.com). Rates & Deets Starting at $169 CityFlatsHotel83 Monroe Center St. NWGrand Rapids, Michigan(616)608-1720 \\ cityflatshotel.com/location/grandrapids/

Inspiration

Oakland Is the Bay Area’s New Style Capital

Visitors to Northern California’s Bay Area have a legendary array of sights to see and experiences to savor, from the natural beauty of Marin County to the cultural cornucopia of Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and other communities. But lately, we’ve noticed that Oakland in particular is setting itself apart when it comes to attracting fashion-forward shoppers. The city of Oakland itself has taken notice of its stylish status as well, launching a new Oakland Style digital fashion guide to help visitors and locals explore Oakland-based apparel and accessories. Unique Local Style With Meaning Shoppers in the know are attracted to Oakland’s style scene not only because the clothing and accessories are original and beautiful but also because Oakland style often holds deeper meaning, reflecting local history (black berets are just one example), popular culture (remember MC Hammer’s parachute pants?) and even politics. Oakland’s Sherri McMullen styled iconic looks for Michelle Obama; Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. launched the Dope Era fashion brand; Oakland native and NFL player Marshawn Lynch created Beastmode, an “athleisure” brand; and local Viscera crafts unique jewelry using a 3D printer. We love how Oakland-inspired clothing brand Oaklandish pursues a mission to spread “local love”: with local-pride T-shirts and accessories and by creating quality jobs for inner-city locals. And we applaud vintager clothing boutique Regina’s Door for serving as a sanctuary for homeless youth, young creatives, and survivors of sex trafficking. A Handy Guide for Visitors and Locals Oakland Style (visitoakland.com/style) highlights five distinct local fashion styles: Town Pride, Vintage and Consignment, A Night on The Town, Elevated Style and Lakeside Lounging. “We are excited to launch the Oakland Style campaign, and to promote shopping at local Oakland businesses to visitors and locals alike,” says Mark Everton, CEO of Visit Oakland. “Oakland’s diverse makers and business owners are what make our city unique, and we are thrilled to highlight their creative products in our digital fashion guide.” Put Oakland on Your California Must-See ListOakland is always a good idea, whether you’re visiting for its stylish clothing or for its other ample charms, including great food, the unique urban parkland around Lake Merritt, and the exceptional Oakland Museum of California, which combines art, history, and science in a user-friendly environment. Oakland is an easy day trip across the bay from (the significantly more expensive) San Francisco and a must-stop for anyone exploring Northern California.

Inspiration

Discover This Gorgeous Corner of Washington State Before Everybody Else Does

We love introducing you to places you've possibly never heard of. Today, we’re giving away a big secret. (Just don’t tell everybody, okay?) There’s a little corner of Northeast Washington State that boasts hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, including trails for hiking and cycling, lakes for paddling and swimming, and mountains to inspire you whether you choose to climb or enjoy the occasional sightings of native grizzly, black bears, cougars, bald eagles, and the last remaining herd of caribou in the U.S. The best part? You’ve probably never heard of Ferry County, WA, the town of Republic, or the Colville National Forest and other nearby public lands, and neither have hundreds of thousands of other travelers. That relative anonymity, of course, poses both a challenge and an opportunity for the people who live and work in Ferry County, about a 2.5-hour drive from Spokane and a 5-hour drive from the Seattle area. The area's inaugural Get Out Fest will put the region on travelers' maps. Meet the Get Out Fest From June 27 to 30, nature-loving travelers will be discovering all that the Ferry County region has to offer when the Get Out Fest makes its debut. The goal of this inaugural event is to raise awareness of the area’s opportunities for outdoor recreation and to offer tons of outdoor activities that won’t break the bank. What to Expect at the Get Out Fest First of all: $5 admission (what part of $5 admission don’t you like?) when you register in advance, $10 at the gate. Kids under 18 get in for free. Festival participants can head to the Ferry County Fairground for an array of activities. Outdoor specialists REI will offer mountain bike rides on the Kettle Crest, a guided hike along a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 25-foot climbing wall, skateboarding activities, a fishing derby, and a fossil hunt. There will be outdoor movies, food, local libations (sponsored by Rainier Beer, Latta Wines, Kind Stranger Wines, and Sleight of Hand Cellars), and live music from The Cave Singers, a Seattle band. Runners may want to lace up for a half-marathon along the gorgeous Ferry County Rail Trail ($45), or the less challenging but no less beautiful 5k ($30). Local Lodging Camping costs $20 for a tent and $30 for an RV. Airbnb rentals in the area start at under $100/night. Marquee Names For an undiscovered corner of the Evergreen State, Ferry County’s festival has some very cool partners. Maybe you’ve heard of Washington’s very own Pearl Jam? The band donated a guitar that will be auctioned online to offset costs of the festival. REI Spokane will be provide free watersport rentals (kayaks and paddleboards), and the Spokane climbing gym Wild Walls and the Washington Trails Association will be onsite lending their expertise and inspiration. Learn More Learn more and book your weekend at the festival at getoutfest.com. And for a fascinating look at the years of planning that went into this inaugural Get Out Fest, read Eli Francovich’s article in The Spokesman-Review, which first put the Get Out Fest on our radar.

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