ADVERTISEMENT

Locals Know Best: Salt Lake City, Utah

By Liza Weisstuch
January 27, 2022
Hillside with capital building and houses
Gino Rigucci/Dreamstime
There's no better guide to a city than someone who lives there, so we asked Brad Wheeler, musician and longtime radio personality, for his take on culture, food, and drink in the town he calls home.

Brad Wheeler is many things: a DJ at KUAA 99.9FM, a Salt Lake City radio station owned by Utah Arts Alliance, the program director and music director at the station, a blues musician who plays a mean harmonica and lists Willie Nelson and jazz saxophone legend Joe McQueen among the artists he's performed with, and teacher, estimating he's taught about 20,000 kids to play harmonica over the past few decades. Most of all, though, he's a die-hard lover of Salt Lake City, his hometown for decades. We checked in with him to get his recommendations on where to eat, shop, and listen to music, as well as where to go when you just wanna get outta dodge.

Eat your heart out

If there’s one thing Brad wants everyone to know, it’s that Utah has the greatest Mexican restaurant in the world, and not just for the food. “Ohio may have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but we have the Red Iguana. More famous musicians have come through the doors there than I can tell you,” he says. The late Ramon Cardenas, whose parents founded the restaurant, is the Red Iguana's patron saint—and maybe Salt Lake’s music industry’s patron saint, too. As legend has it, his parents came from Mexico and opened the restaurant in 1985. While they ran it, he’d go out to concerts and if he liked the band, he’d pile them into his hot rod after the show and drive them over to the restaurant to chow. He placed ads all over the punk magazines. A cult classic was born. (Being featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" only furthered the cause.)

It’s so popular that when they opened a second one around the block in 2011, the lines were immediately just as long as the ones at the first. And its fans are so loyal, Brad says, that the day someone rammed his car into the restaurant, lines formed around the car.

But that’s not the only spot Brad insists on taking out-of-town guests. Caputo’s Deli is high on the list, but the Italian deli foods here aren’t even half of the allure. The shop has what is said to be the largest collection of artisanal chocolate bars in the country—over 300 and counting. And if you’re planning to be in town for a while, sign up for one of the chocolate tasting classes. But wait—there’s more. It’s the only place in the country to have not one, but two cheese caves for aging. As proof of just how superior they are, Brad notes that Cristiano Creminelli—a superstar in Italy for his salami—pinpointed Salt Lake City as his homebase not simply because the pigs he found roaming in Spanish Fork, a nearby town, were perfect for his meat, but also because Caputo’s caves were an ideal aging facility.

Paradise City for music lovers

Let’s be very clear: the Heavy Metal Shop sells far more than just heavy metal vinyl and CDs. Brad proclaims owner Kevin Kirk one of rock and roll’s greatest fans, and he’s curated such an excellent selection that word’s out all over the world. In the early 1990s, Alice Cooper and members of the metal band Slayer were spotted wearing the store’s branded t-shirts on a television interview and magazine cover, respectively. Kurt was flooded with orders—via phone. (It was the early '90s, after all.) Now people around the world sport his t-shirts and hoodies and musicians like the Athens alt-country band Drive By Truckers swing through when they’re in town to shop and even perform quick acoustic sets. There’s also Randy’s Record Shop, one of the top four oldest record stores west of the Mississippi and another one of Brad’s go-to’s for excellent vinyl--both familiar and obscure. Keep an eye out for the monthly $1 sale. “It’s unreal,” Brad, who's known to his listeners as "Bad Brad," assures.

That’s hardly the only reason Salt Lake City is a destination for music lovers. There are a number of options for anyone looking for live shows. Garage on Beck is a funky venue located in the middle of an oil refinery, just bear in mind: the concerts—which range from rock to jazz—tend to sell out and the parking lot is a very narrow stretch of land, so if you get there late, prepare to trek up to more than a mile from your car. When you arrive, though, you’ll be richly rewarded with the funeral potatoes, a deep-fried potato ordeal that involves jalapenos, cheddar cheese, bacon, scallions, and a corn flake crust. It’s a Mormon tradition gone off the deep end.

For something a bit more low-key, but not much, there are three downtown clubs all within three blocks of one another, and Brad endorses them each for their own individual reasons. Metro Music Hall is a mid-size venue that hosts local and national acts, the Depot is a retrofitted old Union Pacific depot that now hosts mostly DJs and rock shows, and the Complex is, not surprisingly, a complex of several venues hosting marquee name musicians as well as sports events.

Daytripping

Music is so deeply woven into Brad’s sense of being that he measures drive times by CD lengths. Salt Lake City is two and a half CDs from the canyons and rock formations that distinguish Capital Reef National Park. The mighty Moab is three or four CDs, depending on how fast you drive, and Zion National Park is five or six. And they’re both must-sees while in Utah. “They’re places that change the way you look at the world—they change you from the outside in,” he says, still in wonder of the landscapes despite visiting them for decades. Chalk it up to the incredibly varied landscape. “One minute you’re in an Alpine forest, like something in Switzerland, then the next minute it’s like a scene out of Dr. Seuss. Or Mars."

A bit closer to town is Snowbasin, a resort known for its 3,000 acres land, much of which is skiable. It’s actually, however, a year-round destination with swimming, concerts, tram rides, and alpine slides in the warmer months. Regardless of the weather, Brad recommends stopping off at the Shooting Star Saloon on your drive to the resort. It's the oldest bar west of the Mississippi and it proudly stays true to its vintage roots. You’ll find burgers cooked on electric griddles, a jukebox with vinyl records, and more. Those interested in older history should head about 30 minutes east for a day in Park City and explore its mining legacy.

And if you’re if even older history is more your speed, the scene is pretty much primordial at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Tens of thousands of years ago it was a tremendous saline lake and today, with the water gone, it’s one of the flattest places on the planet, a fantasy playground for bicyclists, kiteboarders and hot rod drivers. (“On a clear day, you can see the curvature of the earth,” says Brad.) Not too far is Danger Cave, an archaeological site that Brad, who studied archeology, loves to recommend. Some of the oldest weavings in the world were found there. It all just adds to the mysterious glory of the place.

“It just feels like you’re in a Fleetwood Mac video—you're just out there where there’s nothing,” he says. “It’s big and flat and all out there.” Pick up some sandwiches from Caputo’s and make a day of it.

Keep reading
Inspiration

Hotel We Love: Little America, Cheyenne, WY

If you’re from the western U.S., you’re likely familiar with Little America, which has large, longstanding properties in Salt Lake City, Flagstaff, and Cheyenne. Named for a research station in Antarctica, the company's resorts have a charming “Western luxe” look and feel, with low-slung buildings spread out over grounds—sort of the open-range version of the sprawling properties that made the Catskills famous in the 1950s and '60s. The Cheyenne location is no exception, but its wide prairie views are an added bonus. THE STORY  Little America Cheyenne was its own town before hoteliers came along in the first half of the 20th century, transforming the one-time municipality into their inaugural property. The carpeted lobby leans heavily on its Western influences, with couches, a fireplace, and rodeo-themed sculptures and lamps. Restaurants and a shop with cowboy- (and cowgirl-) influenced clothing, jewelry, and paraphernalia are located around the lobby's perimeter. THE QUARTERS Among the 188 rooms, there are eight sizes to choose from, and even the smallest of the bunch—the Deluxe King and Deluxe Two Queens—are spacious. Each room is adorned with art chosen by the owners, and larger rooms include a comfy sitting area. The property underwent a renovation in 2006, and all of the rooms were updated to include mini-fridges and microwaves, among other improvements. Additional amenities include a Keurig coffee maker, flat-screen TVs, and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. Pet-friendly rooms are available.  THE NEIGHBORHOOD The resort is equal parts a family hotel suitable for extended stays and an oasis for long-haul travelers and cross-country road-trippers, as it’s located at the intersection of I-80 and I-25. It’s a quick ride (about $10 in an Uber) to Cheyenne Frontier Days Park as well as downtown, so if you’re looking for a night of bar-hopping, you’re covered. The current proprietors also own Sinclair Oil, a Wyoming refinery and gas-station chain with a number of locations, including one at the end of the hotel’s parking lot, which makes for an easy fill-up before you get back on the road. FOOD  Hathaway’s Restaurant and Lounge, a family-friendly, old-school-glam eatery, evolved from the hotel’s original restaurant, Cheyenne’s Coffee Shop and Western Gold Dining Room. It still serves the homemade turkey roll that was early restaurant’s signature, but now it's merely one of many hearty dishes on offer, like prime rib, chicken-fried steak, and lots of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The menu is also available in the lounge, a low-key space where travelers from around the nation rub elbows. Breakfast at Hathaway's is well-regarded, drawing locals for the weekend brunches, especially the elaborate and abundant affairs on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. ALL THE REST A Golf Association–rated course extends across the property and, accordingly, draws travelers working on their swing. There are sporty activity options beyond the golf course too, from a heated outdoor pool to a cute playground to a modern fitness center. For business travelers, there's a business center with computers and printers as well as plentiful meeting rooms and convention services.  RATES AND DEETS Starting at $119. Little America2800 West Lincoln WayCheyenne, WY 82009(307) 775-8400 // cheyenne.littleamerica.com 

Inspiration

Just Back From: Mexico City

When a friend suggested a trip for her banner-year birthday, we needed a destination that was reasonably priced, close enough for a short visit, and, in early September, warm enough to make us forget that summer was ending. With Mexico City, we got two out of three: It is indeed reasonably priced, both in terms of getting there ($250 roundtrip from New York!) and getting around ($5 to Uber from the airport to the city center!), and the time change is negligible, making it more than manageable for a holiday weekend. The weather wasn’t as unrelentingly hot and sunny as expected, but we packed northern California-esque layers, and it was perfectly pleasant.  Mexico’s capital is a sprawling metropolis that offers so much to see and do that it’s practically impossible to check everything off your list in just three or four days. Which is fine—you’ll be planning your next visit before your return flight has left the runway. Here’s a little taste of what to expect from one of the world’s most populous urban centers. 1. A Network of Neighborhoods Home to more than 20 million people spread across some 571 square miles, there's no chance of seeing all of the city in one go. Your best bet is to focus on a few colonias, or neighborhoods, and even then, you’ll probably be frustrated by the sheer volume of museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars in each that you don’t have time for. We stayed in the Centro Historico—a friend called it the Times Square of Mexico City, but with more monuments and historical landmarks. It may not be the prettiest or the trendiest, but true to its name, its central location makes it a convenient base of operations. Check out the Zócalo, the city’s main plaza; visit the ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán at Templo Mayor, and hit a museum or two before taking an Uber (or the metro) to one of the outlying neighborhoods. West of the Centro, a half-hour cab ride away, the moneyed, tree-lined streets of Polanco provide a respite from the downtown scrum, with posh boutiques (and plenty of upscale chains familiar to the American eye), fancy restaurants, and chic cocktail joints. Southeast of Polanco, Condesa offers ample opportunities for people-watching, with sidewalk cafés and bars that draw tourists and locals alike. And to the east, the neighboring Roma is a hipster hangout par excellence, with great restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores. 2. A Collection of Curiosities For unique sights and experiences that give a distinct sense of place, look further afield. The Museo Frida Kahlo (museofridakahlo.org.mx), for one, sits in the peaceful suburb of Coyoacán, and it’s worth braving the throngs for a glimpse into the private lives of two of Mexico’s most iconic artists. Pro tip: For the best chance of avoiding the crowds, book tickets in advance for the earliest timed entry available, and go on a weekday. Allot plenty of time to wander through Frida’s bedroom, gaze out onto the idyllic gardens from her studio window, and imagine yourself at the kitchen table, sipping tea with Diego Rivera. Directly north, in the decidedly nondescript environs of Buenavista, is Biblioteca Vasconcelos (bibliotecavasconceles.gob.mx), an architectural marvel designed by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach. With interlocking, towering metal-and-glass stacks holding more than 600,000 volumes, this public library is pretty much heaven for bibliophiles.   3. An Array of Fantastic Food Anyone who’s nibbled on a subpar burrito and dreamed of the real deal, rest assured: You'll find it in abundance here in the motherland. From perfect little three-bite tacos in the Centro to upscale bistro fare and chi-chi tasting menus in the outlying neighborhoods, a culinary revolution is underway in the Ciudad de México. We booked a table at Máximo Bistrot Local (maximobistrot.com.mx) in Roma for a leisurely—if unfashionably early—lunch. (The cognoscenti don’t sit down until at least 2:00 p.m.) A swank, smart-casual spot, Máximo specializes in beautifully plated, Frenchified takes on classic Mexican dishes, from an outstanding sea urchin tostada to an unparalleled octopus ceviche. Also in Roma is Fonda Fina (fondafina.com.mx), a small space that treats Mexican cuisine with the reverence it deserves. Try the memela, a masa cake topped with octopus, pressed pork, and roasted cauliflower; the tortilla soup and the squash blossom–laden salad are also standouts. On the other end of the scale, the tiny tortillas from Taqueria Los Cocuyos in the Centro are as good before a night on the town as they are after one. The suadero (brisket) is good, as is the lengua, but the mixed-meat campechano was my personal favorite. If a sugary nightcap is more your speed, the 24-hour outpost of Churrería El Moro is not to be missed. Four churros and a side of dipping chocolate will set you back less than $2, and you’ll have sweet dreams to boot. Do note, though, that almost all sit-down spots close at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. on Sundays, so plan your meals accordingly.  4. A Booming Art Scene From hyper-colorful graffiti to carefully preserved murals by national treasures like Diego Rivera, and from sleek contemporary galleries and museums to grand dame institutions, Mexico City is a hotbed of artistic activity. In the Centro Histórico, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (palacio.bellasartes.gob.mx) is a must-see. This extraordinary theater was completed in 1934 and boasts a neoclassical facade, Art Deco interiors, and eye-catching murals. Take a tour or catch a show (the folkloric ballet is particularly memorable; see below for details), but whatever you do, get there before the curtain—a shimmering stained-glass number from Tiffany & Co.—goes up. A few blocks away, the Museo Nacional de Arte (munal.mx) focuses on art produced between the late 1500s and the early 1950s, with rotating exhibitions on subjects as varied as landscape master José María Velasco and modern muse Nahui Olin. A few miles to the west, the 1,655-acre Bosque de Chapultepec plays host to a number of noteworthy sites, including the Castillo de Chapultepec, a mansion with historic displays, a solid gift shop, and a terrace with sweeping city views; the Museo de Arte Moderno (museoartemoderno.com), featuring assorted work by 20th-century Mexican painters, sculptors, photographers, and more; and the Museo Nacional de Antropología (mna.inah.gob.mx), a supremely cool collection of galleries arranged around a central courtyard and dedicated to the country’s pre-Hispanic history. Just be aware that most museums are closed on Mondays.  5. A Show of National Pride The citizens of North America’s largest capital have plenty of reasons to be proud of their city. I visited just before the country celebrated its Independence Day on September 16th, and Mexico’s red, white, and green were on full display throughout the streets. But you don’t need a special occasion to get a feel for the city’s national pride. Performed year-round, twice a week, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández (balletfolkloricodemexico.com.mx) is a high-energy interpretation of classic Mexican dance. Through costumes, characters, and music that reflect the country’s heritage, the members of this skirt-swirling, lasso-twirling, tap-dancing company channel the traditions of days gone by. For 300 pesos (roughly $15), you can snag a seat in the nosebleeds, and you won’t find better value for the money. ¡Viva México! indeed.

Inspiration

Satisfy Your Thirst in South Carolina

South Carolina is home to some of the friendliest, most welcoming locals in America. That means whether you’re visiting a vibrant urban center like Charleston or Columbia, a beautiful coastal retreat like Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head, or a cool small town like Beaufort, you are likely to be offered a cold glass of Sweet Tea, a world-class pint of craft beer, a shot of “white lightning” (a.k.a. moonshine), or other distinctly South Carolina libations. In fact, wetting your whistle in the Palmetto State has never been easier, with the help of the free Satisfy Your Thirst Tour app, and a few pointers for getting the most out of your tour. CRAFT BEER Coast Brewing Co. in Charleston, SC (Courtesy CoastBrewing.com) After a busy day seeing some of South Carolina’s historical sites, hitting a beach or golf course, or paddling one of the state’s scenic waterways, nothing refreshes quite like a chilled pint of artisan-crafted lager, pilsner, ale, or stout. And if that sounds just about perfect right now, you’re in luck: South Carolina offers more than 50 craft breweries, many boasting great food, tours, and canned and bottled beers you can’t pick up at the grocery store or bar. South Carolina’s craft beer scene extends from the coast to the upstate, and its finest products have garnered nationwide attention. Our friends over at Southern Living named Holy City Brewing, in North Charleston, the best in the state, and Beer Advocate gives the thumbs-up to Westbrook Brewing Co., in Mount Pleasant, and Coast Brewing Co., in Charleston. We’re partial to Conquest Brewing Co., in Columbia, for its variety of textures and mythology-inspired names such as Artemis Blonde and Medusa Stout. And besides loving the name River Rat Brewery, we also admire how the Columbia-based establishment offers affordable brewery tours, great nachos, and evocative names like Twisted Lemon Wheat and American Kolsch Story. MOONSHINE & COCKTAILS Peach Moonshine at Carolina Moon Distillery (Courtesy @cmdistillery/Instagram) Not too long ago, producing moonshine in the backwoods of South Carolina was against the law - not just during the Prohibition years, when alcohol production was illegal across the U.S. and illicit distilling could earn a farmer a small fortune in “liquid gold,” but right up until 2009, when state laws finally changed to allow for micro-distilling of the potent spirit known locally as “white lightning” and “corn likker.” These days, there are more than two dozen artisanal stills across the state producing not only classic moonshine but also bourbon, rum, and vodka, making for a lively tasting scene - and some great cocktails. Dark Corner Distillery, in Greenville, is named for the former bootlegging hotbed “dark corner” of South Carolina, and it produces popular flavored whiskies (butterscotch, maple, and beach to name a few) and offers a tasting flight with a side of regional history. Carolina Moon Distillery, in Edgefield, offers tours of its small-batch operations where vodka, bourbon, and a “high octane” moonshine evocatively dubbed Rabbit Spit are produced. Stop by Palmetto Distillery, with a distillery in the city of Anderson and a shop in Myrtle Beach, both offering fun tours and the brand’s signature moonshine. Of course, all this talk of spirits is bound to make you want to raise a good cocktail, right. Across South Carolina, restaurants and bars are crafting signature concoctions. We especially love the Charleston restaurant Prohibition, where you’ll find a vast array of mixed drinks and small-batch spirits. Try the Bacon Maple Old Fashioned or the classic Mint Julep. When you’re in Myrtle Beach, hit the Chemist for science-fiction themed cocktails like Thyme Machine (including gin and thyme-infused ice) and Flux Capacitor (with vodka, blackberry syrup, and mint). WINE South Carolina’s wine scene is lesser known and ready for the spotlight, with vineyards and wineries producing some outstanding bottles from the coastal regions to upstate. Locally grown grapes include scuppernong and muscadine, used in the great wines produced at Duplin Winery, in Myrtle Beach. And some wineries, such as Island Winery, in Hilton Head, make great use of tasty local fruits like berries and peaches to craft highly rated wines. Kick back at a South Carolina wine bar such as Wined It Up, in Beaufort, where you’ll enjoy small plates and the flexibility to try a variety of hand-picked wines in 2-, 4-, or 6-ounce glasses perfect for tasting a little bit of everything. SWEET TEA On the softer side, but potent in its own way, Sweet Tea is one of the most iconic beverages of South Carolina. For the most authentic, local experience, visit Charleston Tea Plantation, on Wadmalaw Island, where, just like visiting a brewery or winery, you can take a charming tour and savor a variety of teas in an elegant tasting room. And remember that although the name Sweet Tea implies a thick, syrupy experience, you can order it lightly sweetened if you prefer. MILK That’s right: Milk. No visit to South Carolina would be complete without a sip or two of the state’s official drink. There’s nothing like a trip to the farmland of upstate South Carolina for a tour of a dairy, such as Happy Cow Creamery, in Pelzer, that kids of all ages will appreciate. And don’t forget one more mouth-watering tasting experience as you try the milk, cheese, and sometimes even ice cream produced at a dairy farm. DOWNLOAD THE FREE ‘SATISFY YOUR THIRST TOUR’ APP Ready to satisfy your thirst in South Carolina? Download the free South Carolina Satisfy Your Thirst Tour app for iOS or Android or visit SatisfyYourThirstSC.com to find breweries, distilleries, wineries, tours and sampling locations and learn about upcoming festivals that celebrate the best in sippable South Carolina.

Inspiration

7 Exceptional American Food Halls

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 (@pinestreetmarketpdx/Instagram)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.

ADVERTISEMENT