Miami, the food halls are taking over.
The question is: have we jumped the shark? With over half of them still in the works, it’s still too early to call. But with the opening of La Centrale on Feb. 16, we thought a rundown of what’s open—and on the horizon—might help you wade through these spoils of artisan food stalls.
But first: what exactly is a food hall? Isn’t it basically what we’ve been a calling a food court at our local mall for decades? Turns out the answer is a hard “no.” Food courts feature fast food chains, and food halls are a mix of local artisan and boutique concepts that don’t include things like Auntie Anne’s pepperoni pretzel nuggets. After all, there’s a time and place for everything, people.
Now, onto the food halls.
Wynwood got its first Asian-themed marketplace this past November in the form of 1-800-Lucky. The seven vendors at this 10,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor venue are supplying the Miami masses with what they want: delicious dim sum, sushi, banh mi, poke bowls and a highly Instagram-able matcha green tea ice cream in a fish-shaped cone. Home to a karaoke bar, a vinyl shop and Wynwood’s first convenience store, the space is frenetic and loud. But conversation is overrated, anyway.
2. La Centrale
This week, Brickell’s long-awaited Italian food hall will finally open its doors to the public, and clocking in at 40,000 square-feet, it’s the city’s largest to date. Each of the three floors in this Italian behemoth features a different dining experience, including five bars, 14 different eateries (everything from grab-and-go food counters to casual dining eateries to upscale, sit-down restaurants). But you’ll also find a marketplace with more than 1,000 Italian retail products and a 500-label strong wine shop. In a rush? The personal shopper program should help. Select a few items on a special grocery list menu, hand it over your waiter and have a shopper pick up your goods while you enjoy your meal. Bet you didn’t know multitasking could be so darn delicious.
3. Casa Tua Cucina
Ensconced within the swanky Saks at Brickell City Centre, this 18,000-square-foot Italian food hall from South Beach’s Casa Tua Restaurant features 10 different dining stations of the Italian and Mediterranean ilk, a restaurant and a full bar. The sleek gray-and-white space also features a flower market and a home goods shop selling kitchen accessories. Just in case you had the urge to recreate one of the dishes at home—or at least make it look like you know what you’re doing.
4. Treats Food Hall
Because of its location inside Aventura Mall, the temptation to label this one a food court is strong. But the lack of a Sbarro and Chick-fil-A should grind that thought to halt. Nearly a dozen local and national artisan eateries call Treats home, including Figs by celebrity chef Todd English, My Ceviche and Hank & Harry’s Delicatessen. The indoor/outdoor space includes communal seating, intimate banquettes, shared bar tables and the 93-foot tall tubular “Aventura Slide Tower” that can be enjoyed from a distance or experienced by sliding down the sculpture. It all depends on how ballsy you’re feeling after eating that half-pound hot pastrami sandwich.
5. The Wynwood Yard
Think of the Yard as your alfresco food hall option. This lush outdoor hub with an organic edible garden hosts a rotating roster of over 10 innovative food concepts and vendors, including the truffled mac and cheese from World Famous House of Mac, Taiwanese ice cream from Mr. Bing and Josper-grilled meats at Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill.
6. The Wharf
If you’re food hall checklist includes things like waterfront views, cornhole and seafood from local fav Garcia’s, The Wharf has your back. But it’s not just Garcia’s that you’ll find on the docks of this 30,000-square-foot space. Depending on the week, you might find barbecue from King of Racks and crazy pastry concoctions from Mojo Donuts to go with your stone crabs. The Wharf also features a regular rotation of popular local chefs that who host one-night special engagements for the curious of palate.
7. El Palacio de los Jugos
You can say that Palacio de los Jugos was a food hall before food halls became cool. That’s right. All those brightly painted spots that dot Miami’s landscape house several different vendors under one roof. How do you know who to pay? Look at the employees’ shirts. This is the place to go when you want pounds of Cuban eats and fresh fruit juices but your abuela is not in the mood to cook.
8. St. Roch Market
Finding delicious food at the new St. Roch Market in Miami’s Design District is not hard. You can walk up to practically any of the counters manned by some of the most promising chefs in South Florida and walk away happy.
This is no surprise: St. Roch – a New Orleans-based concept – features counters manned by chefs trying out their ideas before launching stand-alone restaurants. You’ll find everything from Vietnamese fare to vegan cupcakes. See, St. Roch is more upscale than your basic food hall. You’ll pay more, but you’ll eat better.
9. Coming Soon
Four more halls are slated to open in the next year, but don’t be surprised if that number keep growing.
Located in a former Federal Reserve bank building in the Little River district, The Citadel is slated to welcome Cake Thai, Antonio Bachour Sweets and New York’s Myumi to its lineup.
Further south, the team by The Wynwood Yard is launching a 10,000-square-foot health-centered food hall concept called Jackson Hall later this spring.
Over on South Beach, keep your eyes on the highly-anticipated Time Out Market and the Lincoln Eatery, both scheduled for 2018 openings.