The latest dining trend sweeping cities across the country is a bit more casual than a plated meal. Enter the food hall. They’re one-stop shops for meeting professionals too, with minimal planning required: Simply point attendees in the right direction and set them free to eat, imbibe and shop as they please. Here are our current faves, plus a few highly anticipated openings.
> Ponce City Market Opened in fall 2015, Atlanta’s second food hall is bigger and more varied than its first, Krog Street Market. At Ponce, find an eclectic mix of sit-down seafood eateries, avocado toast kiosks, gourmet coffee shops and a killer grilled cheese combo by popsicle master King of Pops.
> Eataly It’s hard to remember what was formerly in the giant space—nearly a full city block—that Eataly now occupies in Chicago’s River North. However, as soon as you walk in and breathe in the smells of melted Nutella (don’t miss the crepe bar, seriously), hot-from-the-oven Italian pizzas topped with Sicilian tomatoes, and freshly brewed Intelligentsia espresso, you really won’t care. New York City also has an Eataly location, and Boston will get its own later this year.
> Liberty Public Market The newest food hall on the block is a 22,000-sq.-ft. space opened in January,5 miles from San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and convention center. Turophiles in your group can head straight for Venissimo Cheese, and meat lovers can grab brats and sauerkraut at the first brick-and-mortar outpost of food truck Mastiff Sausage Company.
> Bourdain Market By 2017, celeb chef Anthony Bourdain plans to open a 155,000-sq.-ft. food hall in Manhattan. Designed as a Singapore-style market, it’s expected to have about 100 food vendors, with communal tables surrounded by street-food stands.
> James Beard Public Market More than 10 years in the making, plans for this food hall in Portland, Oregon, are finally rolling. The indoor/outdoor waterfront venue is set to have at least 100 vendors, private event space, teaching kitchens and several full-service restaurants upon completion in 2018.
Photo credit: Sarah Dorio