The only thing that could elevate a luxurious high-end shopping experience is the addition of gourmet food. In Europe and Asia, department stores have taken gourmet food halls to new heights by offering an array of sit-down dining options as well as complete food markets that contain everything from freshly baked pastries to seafood markets to steamed dumpling carts.
The iconic Harrods department store’s food hall in London is one to model all other food halls off of. It boasts stunning, sit-down, high-end restaurants such as Ladurée, The Tea Room, and Caffè Florian as well as smaller, more casual "quick-eats" stalls. If diners can’t choose between dumplings or deli sandwiches, they don’t have to. It also offers countless handmade gourmet food items like tea sets, olive oil, cookware, and more.
A lesser-known department store rival in London is Harvey Nichols, which has a similar setup to Harrods in that it offers a variety of sit-down dining options. It’s also known for a popular bubble-tea stand, a perfect treat to take shopping.
Second to London in the food hall world, arguably, is Tokyo. The city has countless department store food halls that are favored by locals. At the Matsuzakaya department store, diners often run in to grab pre-packaged bento boxes, but can buy everything from rice crackers to chocolate and everything in between. But at Takashimaya, the fresh fish and meat markets are really what draw in the crowds.
And in the City of Light, there are two dueling department store food halls, one on the Right Bank and one on the Left. La Grande Épicerie at Bon Marché is a full floor filled with an extensive pastry section alongside items like cookware and home goods. At the Galeries Lafayette Food Hall, also in Paris, they might sell similar products, but they also showcase Angelina’s famous hot chocolate, which shoppers can either enjoy inside or take to go.
For the world traveler who’s simultaneously fascinated by the underworld of the department store food halls, grab a ticket to a new city and start exploring this exciting gourmet world.