Food halls have become enormous tourist attractions. Here’s a look at the trend in the U.S.
In New York City, tourists and locals don’t usually line up at the same places. A major exception: Eataly, the Italian-food mecca from Mario Batali that combines multiple markets with seven restaurants, including a birreria that brews its own ale. The 50,000-square-foot space brings in some 6 million people a year. “Eataly was a revelation,” says Batali, whose food hall is an offshoot of the flagship in Turin, Italy. “It’s as if no one in America thought, Why not have a glass of wine when you shop for dinner?”
Now, the food-hall–as–tourist-attraction phenomenon is spreading across the country. Eataly has expanded to Chicago, and cities like San Antonio and Santa Barbara, California, are launching ambitious markets with stalls from notable chefs and stellar artisans who make cured meats, chocolate and just about everything else.
One place taking the food-hub trend very seriously is Atlanta. It’s a big city where things tend to be supersize (it’s got one of the world’s largest airports and hugest aquariums). Accordingly, its two new food halls, Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market, are enormous. Still, they have more in common than size: Both show off the city’s culinary evolution with dining areas that spotlight revered local chefs as well as rising stars, and each has inspired Mexican food stalls as well as artisanal ice cream stands. They also go head-to-head on sandwiches. At Krog Street, Todd Ginsberg of Fred’s Meat & Bread packs his Italian grinder with layers of meat and cheese and a dollop of aioli. At Ponce City, opening this summer, F&W Best New Chef Anne Quatrano will make fish-shack-style sandwiches like tarragon-flecked lobster rolls.
The two Atlanta markets promise to become places where people all over this sprawling city can come together. Batali, for one, isn’t surprised that food halls can create community. “The food-hub phenomenon isn’t just gastronomical, it’s experiential,” he says. “Food halls bring so many people under one roof to create an event of food consumption, and there’s nothing more joyous than that.”
Here, a look at new and soon-to-open markets all across the US. Some celebrate a single cuisine; others offer a round-the-clock multicultural experience with places for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, plus hotels for crashing.
Krog Street Market, Atlanta
With only independent shops and food stalls with communal seating, Krog Street has a neighborhood vibe. The emphasis on local businesses and the “old-bones” building attracted chef Eli Kirshtein to the project. “Nothing about it is cookie-cutter,” he says. 99 Krog St.; krogstreetmarket.com.
Take a photo tour through Atlanta's Krog Street Market.
Ponce City Market, Atlanta
In keeping with the theme of the building’s original tenant, Sears, Roebuck & Co., Ponce will sell something for everyone when it opens this summer. There are restaurants, shops offering items that range from cookware to antique lighting, and even rotating art installations. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE; poncecitymarket.com.
Take a photo tour through Atlanta's Ponce City Market.
The Nutella bar introduced at this new outpost of the Italian-market empire serves the spread on everything from crêpes to brioche. eataly.com.
China Live, San Francisco
The legendary Cecilia Chiang consulted on this AvroKO-designed market. chinalivesf.com.
Le District, New York City
A chocolate mousse bar and rotisserie chicken await Francophiles at this Gallic market. ledistrict.com.
Anthony Bourdain’s fans can travel with him (minus the malaria pills) at Bourdain Market. It’s due to open in NYC later this year with dozens of international food stalls.
Union Station, Denver
Stop by Stoic & Genuine’s raw bar, featuring granita flavors (like lychee-sake) created to pair well with unionstationindenver.com.
Pearl, San Antonio
Visit Local Coffee, which recently started roasting its own beans under the label Merit Roasting Co. atpearl.com.