Within the last six years, food halls have been taking America by storm, and for good reason — where else can you choose from multiple eateries, artisan products, and communal dining spaces all under one massive, metropolitan roof? With well-established marketplaces in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and anticipated openings in Baltimore, Birmingham, and Dallas, it's clear that food halls are trending, but as a hungry New Yorker with a keen understanding of epicurean ebb and flow, I can't help but wonder: Does the food hall trend have staying power?
David Haisley, freelance restaurant consultant and director of marketing for Urbanspace NYC, thinks so. Haisley tells Bustle, "The current popularity of food halls and markets is natural considering the growing consumer interest in choosing to eat local while supporting small business. Food halls represent a welcome departure from the monotony of big-box eating, offering consumers a dense variety of choice within the convenience of a single location."
That freedom of choice Haisley mentions not only benefits the consumer, but the purveyor as well. Instead of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into traditional brick and mortar spaces — 60 percent of which fail within the first year — budding restauranteurs can opt for a relatively low-risk food hall option where they're encouraged to use the booth as a platform to test new food concepts while building their brand.
And those new food concepts? They seem to be limitless. In New York City alone, you can sample kimchi falafel and guava sangria at Urbanspace Grament District, followed by Asian fried riceballs at Broadway Bites, before concluding your food hall tour with a bowl of fresh Hawaiian poke at Madison Square Eats. And since many food halls offer vendor rotation, you can easily try brand new cuisine on a weekly basis. Haisley adds, "Urbanspace Vanderbilt was specifically designed to allow new concepts to rotate in and out, which allows us to continually introduce new and exciting options to our markets. Our guests could eat lunch at Urbanspace Vanderbilt five days a week, and it would take them a month to try every vendor. That promise — that lunch never has to be boring again — is what keeps people coming back for more."
People are certainly coming back for more. With nine new food halls slated to open across the U.S. in 2016 — including New York City's highly anticipated Bourdain Market — it's safe to say that this food trend has some serious staying power. If you're interested in experiencing the hype for yourself, I recommend doing a little field research and checking out these eight food halls located in cities big and small all over the country. Because let's be honest, food research is the best kind of research.
Located near Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, Urbanspace Vanderbilt boasts over 20 artisanal and chef-driven food vendors including NYC icons Roberta's, Dough, and Redhook Lobster Pound.
Urbanspace Vanderbilt is located at 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue inside the Helmsley Building at 230 Park in New York, NY.
This mix of historic and modern structures in Seattle's Pike-Pine neighborhood houses Viennese-style pastries from Amandine, coffee from Empire Espresso, and farm-fresh ice cream at Kurt Farm Shop, just to name a few.
Chophouse Row is located at 1424 11th Avenue in Seattle, WA.
Atlanta's historic Sears, Roebuck & Company has been reinvented as a vibrant public space housing various food vendors, shops, offices, and residences. Food hall all-stars include Hop's Chicken, Jia, City Winery, and Spiller Park Coffee.
Ponce City Market is located at 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE in Atlanta, GA.
A staple of Los Angeles since 1917, Grand Central Market continues to celebrate the city's cuisine and culture by showcasing some of California's best ingredients, chefs, and entrepreneurs. Market must-tries include China Cafe, Eggslut, and Sticky Rice.
Grand Central Market is located at 317 S. Broadway in Los Angeles, CA.
Lauded a top spot for regional Latin American food by Eater Portland, Portland Mercado offers eight authentic and affordable food carts serving regional specialties from Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, and Cuba.
Portland Mercado is located at 7238 SE Foster Road in Portland, OR.
This seven-day a week rustic market houses dozens of artisanal food vendors and a dog-friendly patio where you can enjoy market delights, like Scooped's brownie batter ice cream, under the San Diego sun.
Liberty Public Market is located at 2820 Historic Decatur Road in San Diego, CA.
With 10 innovative kitchens under one roof, Latinicity is where you go to find the spirit of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal in the heart of Chicago.
Latinicity is located at 108 N. State Streer 3rd Floor in Chicago, IL.
Located in a newly renovated cigar factory, Mercantile and Mash offers a unique selection of quality food and beverage purveyors including Low Country Olive Oil, Black Tap Coffee, Sweet Grass Dairy, and Food for the Southern Soul.
Mercantile and Mash is located at 701 East Bay Street in Charleston, SC.
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