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Anaheim Packing House
Photograph: Michael Juliano

The 13 best food halls in L.A. and Orange County

The rise of food halls in Los Angeles and the surrounding area is changing the way we dine. Here are a few of our favorites.

By Erin Kuschner and Stephanie Breijo
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A sandwich here, a bowl of ramen there, an ice cream cone to finish—when it comes to piecing together the ultimate meal, sometimes we wish we could pick and choose dishes from our favorite places for the ultimate feast. Thankfully, we’re not the only ones who think so.

The boom in food halls in Los Angeles—as well as Orange County—is a result of diners wanting to create their own perfect meal from different restaurants. Though food halls have been around for awhile—think: Grand Central Market and the Original Farmers Market—a new crop of food havens is making waves. Check out our guide to our favorite food halls in Los Angeles and Orange County—and start crafting your own personalized dining experience.

Pick and choose at these great food halls

Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

1. Grand Central Market

Restaurants Lunch Downtown Historic Core

There are few L.A. food destinations that are more iconic than Grand Central Market. This historic European-style food hall has operated on the ground floor of DTLA’s Homer Laughlin Building since 1917. There’ve been plenty of changes throughout the years—with some prompting concerns about the gentrification that pushed out older stalls to make way for newer, flashier ones—but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the culinary talent here is strong. In addition to the handful of old-school vendors you must try (Chiles Secos and Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, for starters), some of the city’s best chefs have opened up shop here, including Sari Sari Store’s Filipino food from République owners Margarita and Walter Manzke; Fat & Flour’s pies and cookies from star baker Nicole Rucker; Prawn Coastal Casual’s lobster rolls and chowders by Campanile co-founder Mark Peele; and Eggslut’s iconic egg sandwiches from Burger Show star and chef Alvin Cailan. There’s counter-service Thai food from Sticky Rice; vegan ramen from Ramen Hood; and freshly made pasta at Knead & Co. On warm summer nights, pick up BBQ at Horse Thief BBQ and sit out on the patio, then follow it up with a beer at Golden Road Brewery or a glass of wine and some oysters at The Oyster Gourmet

4th Street Market
4th Street Market
Photograph: Erin Kuschner

2. 4th Street Market

Restaurants Food court Santa Ana

Walk through 4th Street Market and you might think that this food hall is on the small side. Take a closer look and you’ll find that there’s plenty packed into the Santa Ana gathering place, including around 15 vendors serving everything from pan pizza to falafel to ice cream sandwiches. First, though, you need to stop by Alta Baja Market, a specialty food store and deli that highlights the flavors of California, Mexico and the American Southwest with dried peppers, baked goods, cheese plates and beyond. Then work your way around the food hall, stopping by Buqqa Mediterranean Grill, Naughty Panda, La Vegana Mexicana, Mar and others, including Chunk-n-Chip for some must-have ice cream sammies. An outdoor patio hosts occasional bands, while Recess invites visitors to kick back with some craft soda, a cocktail, craft beer or a glass of wine.

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3. The Original Farmers Market

Things to do Event spaces Fairfax District
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Back in 1934, local farmers began selling produce at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax, a spot that’s come to be known as the Original Farmers Market and a prime Grove-adjacent dining hall. A handful of stalls still sell groceries, but they’re outnumbered by restaurant stands offering a culinary round-the-world trip. Alongside the American comfort food served at the historic, 24-hour Du-Par’s restaurant, you can get everything from Texas barbecue (Bryan’s Pit Barbecue) to Pan-Asian skewers and salads (Singapore’s Banana Leaf), New Orleans po’ boys (the Gumbo Pot) to massive pizzas (Patsy D’Amore’s). For dessert, you can’t beat Bennett’s Ice Cream. Make sure to stop by Light My Fire, a shop packed with hundreds of different hot sauces, and Monsieur Marcel’s, an all-out culinary and pantry-goods emporium.

Anaheim Packing District.
Anaheim Packing District.
Photograph: Michael Juliano

4. Anaheim Packing District

Restaurants Eclectic Anaheim

Anaheim is no longer just for Angels games and Disneyland trips, and much of that is thanks to the arrival of the Anaheim Packing District. Split up into three revamped destinations, the block-sized district is anchored by the Packing House, a former Sunkist citrus plant that’s been converted into a handsome, modern food hall. The roster of merchants runs the gamut from full-service restaurants to niche vendors that specialize in grilled cheese, crepes, juice, bubble tea and more. Think of it as Orange County’s answer to Grand Central Market, albeit boozier—there are two bars and a speakeasy—and more inviting thanks to comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and a lofty, bright warehouse space. Need a place to start? Alwys go for the poutine at the Kroft. On the other end of the district sits the Packard Building, a mission-revival car showroom that now houses the Anaheim Brewery and an Umami Burger. Between the two you’ll find Farmers Park, a two-acre grassy field with a community garden and a dim sum restaurant. Surprise, suprise: This place is pretty popular, so expect to park in one of the surrounding parking lots during lunchtime.

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Gallery Food Hall Third Street Promenade Santa Monica Social Eats
Gallery Food Hall Third Street Promenade Santa Monica Social Eats
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

5. Gallery Food Hall

Restaurants Food court Santa Monica

Third Street Promenade’s big draw might not even be the shopping anymore—unless you count shopping for dishes from some big-name chefs. Santa Monica’s long-time retail stretch is now also home to a two-story food hall where celebrity chefs (David Chang and the Voltaggio brothers) and culinary startups (tapas and a beer wall, anyone?) fill the stalls—which is how you end up with tough choices. There’s sustainability-minded fish sandwiches; Jeremy Fall’s burger and pizza concept; a build-your-own bento box station; a wine bar at the center; David Chang’s fried-chicken spot, Fuku; and a sweets emporium whose cookies and other sugary delectables keep crowds of all ages wandering into Callery Food Hall. Decisions, decisions. Need some help? We’ve got a full guide here.

6. SteelCraft

Restaurants Food court Long Beach
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“Restoration” is the key word at SteelCraft in Long Beach, where meals are shared on communal tables made from reclaimed wood and bike racks are formed from 95-percent recycled material. Each restaurant or bar in this outdoor food court operates out of repurposed metal shipping containers from the Port of L.A. and the Port of Long Beach. While restaurants rolled out gradually, the space is now home to Hollywood’s DeSano Pizza Bakery; pork purveyors Pig Pen Delicacy; Belgian waffle specialist Waffle Love; San Diego’s Tajima Ramen; ice cream sandwich outpost Rori’s Artisanal Creamery; and organic and cold-pressed beverages from Rainbow Juices. Smog City Brewery pours beer at a container as well, and cups of java can be ordered from Steelhead Coffee. Keep an eye out for events happening at SteelCraft, like beer and chocolate pairings, and if you’re near Bellflower or Garden Grove, you can now find SteelCraft food-hall sibling spots there, too.

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7. Lot 579

Restaurants Food court Huntington Beach

Lot 579 is a food hall adjacent to Pacific City, a Huntington Beach retail complex just steps away from the ocean. Tuck into burgers at the American Dream; sustainable sushi at Bear Flag Fish Co.; pizza whole and by the slice at Il Barone; pho and spring rolls at PHANS55; and artisanal sandwiches at Burnt Crumbs. There’s plenty here for those with a sweet tooth, too: popsicles at PopBar, ice cream at Hans’s Homemade Ice Cream and cupcakes at Frosted Cupcakery. And if you’re looking for craft spirits in a totally unique setting, vomFASS sells to-go bottles of artisan liquors poured from big glass jugs.

BierBeisl Imbiss
BierBeisl Imbiss
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

8. Spring Arcade Building

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Downtown Historic Core

Enter the archway of this 1924 arcade and you’ll find a glass-roofed alleyway dotted with restaurants and shops. The crowds are still light—it’s no Grand Central Market competitor, at least not yet—but the food offerings are strong. Stop by Guisados for some tinga or a chorizo taco and horchata; order up succulent char siu, porchetta and cheesy egg rolls at fast-casual Cantonese destination Rice Box; or grab a Cuban coffee, pastries and sandwiches from Don Francisco’s. Gelateria Uli has some of the city’s best gelato, and if you’re looking for brunch, you can’t do much better than Blu Jam. In the mood for a drink? Step into Garçons de Cafe, a wine bar and boutique that instantly transports you to Paris—or drop by the newer Clayton’s Public House, a Victorian-themed gastropub with 32 craft beers on tap.

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9. Trade Food Hall

Restaurants Food court Irvine
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This modern food hall took over an unlikely strip mall (read: tons of parking). Enter into the open-air food court, where most of the concepts face inward toward a tree-dotted courtyard. Catch families and people of all ages Instagramming their food here, because Trade’s vendors are just as eye-catching as they are delicious. Whether you’re looking for rainbow-dipped, honeycomb-shaped Belgium waffles at Sweet Combforts; massive fried chicken sandwiches from Two Birds; or burgers on mac-and-cheese buns from Ground House, Trade has something perfect for you (and your camera roll).

The Fields LA food hall Banc of California Stadium LAFC
The Fields LA food hall Banc of California Stadium LAFC
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

10. The Fields LA

Restaurants Food court USC/Exposition Park

Combining L.A.’s love of sports and food halls, the LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium built The Fields LA, a 200-seat dining hall housing some of the city’s best restaurants, mom-and-pop operations and previews of concepts to come. Open every day for lunch—game day or not—this hall offers multiple bars, an outdoor area and roughly 10 food vendors, ranging from world-class Middle Eastern food from a lauded Australian chef to the homegrown heroes of Burritos La Palma. Coni’ Seafood has a stand, as does dumpling shop Ms. Chi. Otium chef and Netflix’s The Final Table winner Timothy Hollingsworth keeps us fed with the best of both worlds: a fast-casual fried-chicken concept on the ground floor, then upstairs, a full-service spot with arcade games and plenty of beer.

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Brian Malarkey Herb and Ranch food hall Irvine
Brian Malarkey Herb and Ranch food hall Irvine
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

11. Herb & Ranch

Restaurants Food court Irvine

How often do you see a food hall with a range of concepts from one chef? In Irvine, tucked deep into UCI Research Park, Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey built a micro food hall that’s open to all, giving us multiple ways to enjoy the cuisine of one of San Diego’s best chefs—and a business model that’s fairly unique to the format. Pick and choose from five different food stands, then pay up at the front register for quick mix-and-match bliss. There’s an all-day coffee shop with fresh pastries, beer and wine; breakfast burritos in the morning; hot and cold gourmet sandwiches with daily specials like salmon katsu sandos; poke bowls galore; and a greens-and-grains station where you can find local and heirloom produce served in healthful bowls. Finish with fresh cookies up at the register and a can or two of the hyper-curated, bougie and refreshing teas and sodas, for best results.

Corporation Food Hall in Downtown LA DTLA
Corporation Food Hall in Downtown LA DTLA
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

12. Corporation Food Hall

Restaurants Food court Downtown Historic Core

Much smaller than the nearby Grand Central Market but sporting tons of neon and diverse stalls, Corporation Food Hall offers near-hidden vendors tucked away in DTLA. It’s also less bustling than GCM (and less airy than Spring Arcade), but Corporation is a compact but humming collection of Middle Eastern falafel shop Soom Soom; the genre-bending taco-and-burrito hub Tacos tu Madre; pasta shop Funculo; the Southeast Asian kitchen of Buddha Belly (see: pad see ew and pork belly with fried egg); and South City Fried Chicken, with its juicy birds worth clucking about. There’s even an enclosed outdoor patio, which is prime for Downtown people-watching.

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Amboy
Amboy
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

13. Far East Plaza

Restaurants Food court Chinatown

Technically, no, this isn’t a food hall—which is why it’s sitting at the bottom of this list (believe us, it has nothing to do with lack of quality)—but Far East Plaza packs some of our favorite restaurants into one bustling plaza. It might look unassuming from the outside, but step into the corridor of this Chinatown shopping mall and you’ll find a complex overflowing with local character. Locals and tourists alike line up for Nashville hot chicken at Howlin’ Ray’s; upstairs, Taiwanese street food at Lao Tao keeps beef noodle bowls and popcorn chicken on tables; and pop-ups like the phenomenal Cantonese noodle and rice-bowl spot Pearl River Delta make for an ever-changing lineup. Coffee is poured at the sleek Endorffeine coffee shop, while dessert comes in the form of artisanal ice cream at Scoops. Looking for more formal dining options? LASA is a sit-down restaurant serving modernized Filipino food, like pancit, lumpia sariwa and crispy duck arroz caldo, while Kim Chuy, a casual family-owned Chinese-food diner, is one of the plaza’s sit-down-restaurant originators. If all these creative eats inspired you to make your own dinner, stop by Now Serving, one of the city’s best kitchenwares and cookbook shops with frequent author events and other community gatherings. 

Get a closer look at Far East Plaza

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