Oxbow Public Market in Downtown Napa (Courtesy Oxbow Public Market)
Food halls are fast becoming must-visit destinations that appeal to visitors as much as locals. They offer a multitude of casual dining options all under one roof for eating on site or ordering to go, as well as local products for sale. Here in the Bay Area, some food halls are situated within public markets and have been around for decades, while others have just recently launched and are still being developed. Like food trucks, they offer a social and affordable dining experience where everyone can find something they like. And there’s always a good chance you’ll come in direct contact with the person preparing your food. While some are simply convenient neighborhood hangouts, these nine larger halls are worthy of a detour.
Ferry Building Marketplace
One of the most nationally lauded food halls is the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace. Here you’ll find a tri-weekly outdoor farmers’ market as well as a mind-boggling array of more than 50 different vendors, including world-class restaurants and local and artisanal producers. A few highlights include Acme Bread Company, Cowgirl Creamery, Boccalone Salumeria, Gott’s Roadside and Slanted Door for Vietnamese food. There are shops selling everything from books to cookware. You can sit inside or outside with views facing the bay or the city.
Don’t miss: The grapefruit and jicama salad from Out The Door.
The Market at 1355 Market St. in San Francisco, better known as the ground floor of the Twitter building, is one of the most ambitious new food halls. It’s taken off quickly with a 50 percent increase in business since it launched in 2015, and processes about 5,000 transactions a month. The Market has 19 vendors and room for about five more. You’ll find a great range of options including Azalina’s Malaysian cuisine, Slice House pizza, sushi, tacos, sandwiches, tapas and Blue Bottle Coffee. There’s plenty of seating indoors.
Don’t miss: laksa from Azalina’s.
The Myriad is one of the newest spaces. It launched earlier this year and occupies the ground floor of an apartment building at 2175 Market St. in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Bright, colorful frames give the hall a unified and cheerful vibe in an otherwise bare-bones industrial space. There are currently 11 vendors, with room for a few more, as well as Le Bread Xpress kiosk, a baguette vending machine. The machine has an oven that can bake up to eight loaves at once, on demand, and is the first in the United States. Other offerings include Raw fresh juice, Homestead cookies, Noname sushi, Antoniks BBQ, San Francisco Brewing Company and Crepes S’il Vous Plait. There’s seating both inside and on the sidewalk.
Don’t miss: Fresh, hot baguettes from Le Bread Xpress.
Located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, 331 Cortland originally opened with six kiosks, but there are now just three differently sized kiosks and a larger indoor seating area. The space is very much an incubator for small businesses. Since opening in 2010, many of the vendors have come and gone—moving on to bigger spaces. Current tenants include Paulie’s Pickling and Mae Krua Thai foods.
Don’t miss: The chopped liver sandwich from Paulie’s Pickling.
SoFA in SoFA Market stands for South First Area, the Arts District of Downtown San Jose, where it’s located on 387 South First St. The market opened in late 2014 and continues to grow. It’s expected to be at completion sometime in 2017, with 11 independent, local businesses. Right now there are seven businesses, including The Fountainhead Bar, On The Flipside Burger Bar and Konjoe Tei ramen and izakaya. The space is inviting, with different seating areas indoors in addition to an outdoor interior patio with couches and a long communal table.
Don’t miss: The matcha green tea with Kit Kat ice cream bar from Milk & Wood.
Located in the heart of the “Gourmet Ghetto,” Epicurious Garden, at 1511 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, has nine vendors, including Alegio chocolate, Kirala Japanese food, Imperial Tea Court, Guacamole 61 taqueria and Tigerlily Berkeley, an Indian bistro and wine bar. The food hall is located in a remodeled building that dates back to 1916, with exposed brick and features a garden and a courtyard with a waterfall.
Don’t miss: Mexican chocolate gelato from Lush Gelato.
Chic-yet-casual Swan's Market, at 510 9th Ave., was always a major shopping destination and encompasses an entire city block in the Old Oakland neighborhood. But today it houses 10 food and restaurant vendors, including Cosecha Cafe, offering Mexican food, Hen House pizza and Italian food, B-Dama Japanese, Sincere Seafood, Super Juiced, Rosamunde Sausage Grill and Miss Ollie’s, offering Afro-Caribbean cuisine. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and parts of the building’s trusses are exposed, bringing light into the space.
Don’t miss: Oakland’s Own Po’Boy with fried oysters from The Cook and Her Farmer.
Public Market Emeryville
The Public Market Emeryville at 5959 Shellmound St. was developed in the 1980s but has recently undergone a refresh, with the food hall quickly filling up with new chef-driven, locally based eateries alongside some of market’s established vendors. A mixed-use space, it has restaurants, retail, offices and housing. The market currently has eight food vendors, including Wazwan Indian Cuisine, Sorabol Korean, Pamir Afghan Cuisine and Bay Burger, with another five slated to come on board in the next few months. When fully leased, the Public Market will showcase 20 vendors in the Market’s food stalls and café spaces.
Don’t miss: Shiba Ramen’s dry ramen.
Oxbow Public Market
Oxbow Public Market, at 610 and 644 First St., is a hub of activity in Napa. A mix of retail shops in a large and airy covered market space is peppered with restaurants including C Casa gluten-free Mexican, Hog Island Oyster Co., Eiko’s sushi, Five Dot Ranch and Cookhouse and Kitchen Door, an American comfort-food restaurant.
Don’t miss: Ca’Momi Enoteca’s bigne de caffe.