With each passing year, it seems there are more and more food halls popping up in almost every city around the country.
In case you don't know quite what the term “food hall” means, here’s what we’re talking about: A food hall is similar to a food court (which you’re probably familiar with from shopping malls), but with higher-quality food, often including gourmet offerings, locally-sourced ingredients, and critically-acclaimed restaurant and/or chef names. Food halls often exist in conjunction with markets, but a market can’t truly be named a food hall unless it also serves fare to be consumed on the premises.
Some food halls are under a single proprietor, with all the food and drink, whether it's meant to be enjoyed in situ or taken home, from a single source. Others are more like mini-food-related shopping malls, populated by assorted vendors — sometimes branches of well-known restaurants or food trucks.
For the rankings in this list, we attempted to balance all the different types of food halls by using the following criteria: First and foremost is the selection. A larger number of restaurants and vendors is a big strength, especially when there’s a lot of diversity in the cuisine types. This means a smaller space can potentially rank higher if it offers more variety, and a larger one can rank lower if it’s too uniform. Second is public opinion. We examined Yelp ratings and reviews for each of these food halls to make sure they were up to par and also not just viewed as a regular, run-of-the-mill food courts. Our third criteria is popularity, which we generally evaluated based on Twitter followers, but because not all spaces are on social media (or Twitter specifically), we took the general viral hype into consideration as well. And finally, each space could earn bonus points for having currently trendy, big-name eateries and food stalls — and also if a famous or award-winning chef is associated with any vendors.
We assigned points values to each of these factors, tallied up the totals, and the result is the best food halls in America for 2016. It’s worth mentioning that there are actually a lot more options out there than represented in this article; most people will probably be surprised to find out how many actually exist. If you’re traveling to a new city or town in the not-too-distant future, definitely check and see if the area has a food hall — because chances are it will! In the meantime, add these 50 food halls to your dining — or shopping — dream list, for they are currently the best in the land.