Eat Your Way Through the Best Food Halls in LA
String together a series of diverse bites at these great food halls, with plenty of craft beer and coffee along the way.
The best thing about food halls is their diversity, the breadth of cuisines you can try within a single visit and the madcap mixed meals you can build out from various vendors’ offerings. Maybe you will assemble a lunch of oxtail stew, mandu, quesabirria, and coffee. Or maybe you’ll pair a craft beer with gumbo, a pupusa, and a margherita pizza with some Oaxacan drinking chocolate for dessert.
The other cool thing about food halls is the way they provide a lower-overhead pathway to business ownership and restaurant creation for people who may not be able to otherwise afford to get started. Like the food truck craze and the pop-up trend, food halls at their best are an incubator for exciting new culinary talent and a relatively low-risk way for established chefs to try something different and (hopefully) creative and weird.
Food halls are also, on a very simple level, fun as hell. It’s a great way to meet up for a meal with an indecisive friend group, or to waste away an afternoon in an unfamiliar neighborhood snacking and drinking and chatting. The greater LA area has seen an influx of food halls over the last several years, to go with an assortment of long-running essential stops, and they’ve proliferated around the county to areas that don’t tend to get as many buzzy openings. These are some of the best food halls to try all over LA county, from Downtown to Culver City to San Gabriel and beyond.
Grand Central Market
First opened more than a century ago, Grand Central Market didn’t start out as a food hall, but its move towards new, flashier tenants around a decade ago kicked off the larger food hall trend in Southern California. Now it is an institution in LA’s dining scene, a collection of outstanding stalls that have drawn crowds downtown for years. Empires like Alvin Cailan’s Eggslut have been launched from Grand Central, and it’s given a home to talented chefs looking to pivot as the team at Shiku has, while maintaining space for legacy tenants like Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. There’s also a Golden Road counter for any Mango Cart cravings, Broad Street Oyster Co. for lobster rolls and New England-style seafood, vegan Ramen Hood, Olio’s wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pies, Horse Thief BBQ, plus countless other vendors and cuisines, a fresh farmers market, Latin market, and even a jewelry counter.
Blossom Market Hall
The SGV is so densely packed with great restaurants, many of them located literally within the same plaza, that the whole region sometimes feels like an asphalt food hall. But Blossom Market has compressed things even further, packing a dozen diverse vendors into a refurbished mid-century Masonic Lodge in San Gabriel’s Mission District. The collection of stalls is excellent, with Yonette Alleyne’s Caribbean Gourmet and the well-executed Mexican cooking at La Olla Cocina as particular highlights.
Citizen Public Market
Culver City is the epicenter of upscale curated mall culture in LA, with spaces like the Platform, Ivy Station, and Helms Bakery all purpose-built to make access to cool-ish brands as convenient and photogenic as possible. Now that ethos extends into the food space with Citizen Public Market, a stylish food hall built into a former publishing house in downtown Culver City. The vendors are almost all projects from big names like Nancy Silverton’s Pizzette, Brandon Kida’s Go Go Bird, and Bar Bohemien from the Cafe Birdie team, and there are also new locations for popular Southern California spots Jolly Oyster and goodboybob.
Food hall culture has gotten so entrenched that there’s even a small chain of them—Steelcraft, an open-air market with vendors tucked into steel shipping containers, has three outposts across Southeast LA and into Orange County, including Long Beach, Bellflower, and Garden Grove. There’s a different local craft brewery operating out of each location and each one also has a specialty coffee shop in addition to a roster of closely curated vendors. The spaces are all stylish and well thought out, with modern industrial decor and plenty of seating, and they also host live music and community-focused events.
BLVD is one of LA’s newer markets, a modern assemblage of shipping containers built around a central courtyard on Whittier Boulevard in downtown Montebello. The collection of vendors is particularly diverse, including Cajun food from NOLA, Salvadoran at VCHO’s, Pizza at La Crosta, and the specialty Oaxacan coffee and chocolate from Cafe Santo. There is also craft beer on tap at Alchemy Craft, and the tables in that central courtyard have plenty of space to lay out all of your various bites.
Most food halls are generalists, with no real theme or theory behind vendor selection, but NorthRidge Eats is a little more specific than that—it is an Asian food hall. There are only a few vendors, but each one represents a different Asian culinary tradition: sushi, Hainan chicken rice, homestyle Thai food, and ramen. It is perhaps a little less stylish than other food halls out there—you never quite forget you’re in a strip mall across from an industrial park in the deep valley—but the options are good and there’s plenty of seating, a good option if you’re visiting CSUN or the Chatsworth Courthouse.
Mercado La Paloma
It is tempting to think of Mercado La Paloma less as a food hall and more as the oversize warehouse that houses Holbox and Chichen Itza, chef Gilberto Cetina’s twin pillars of Yucatecan cooking. But that would be myopic—don’t overlook the other vendors at the excellent Exposition Park market like the rare Garifuna specialties at Gusina Saraba, the al pastor from Vista Hermosa, and the Tortas Oaxaqueñas and juices from Oaxacalifornia. And it’s a great place to stop in on your way to Banc of California Stadium.
The Proud Bird
The Proud Bird opened as a single restaurant in 1967, but for its 50th anniversary in 2017 it was rearranged into a food hall with six stands offering a range of cuisines operated by Specialty Restaurants Corporation, the same company that has owned Proud Bird since its inception. The Bludso’s BBQ stand is a highlight, and there are other fun concepts like Chicken & Waffles, Burgers, and Pizza in addition to the Mile High Bar. Proud Bird also has plenty of outdoor space, a playground for kids, exhibits dedicated to the history of aviation, and a prime location next to the runway at LAX so you can watch aviation’s present takeoff and land right overhead.
There must be something about airports—just outside LGB in Long Beach, The Hangar hosts more than a dozen food vendors in a 17,000 square foot former aviation hangar. There are stands like Amorcito from the Amor y Tacos team, a quick-service spot for well-crafted modern tacos and snacks, and diverse options like Nashville hot chicken, döner kabobs, and KBBQ. With all of the rich options at The Hangar you may need a boost; thankfully, there is also a stand by Portola Coffee, the fantastic OC-based coffee roaster.
Glendora Public Market
Believe it or not, the historic 1940s warehouse that used to house Wonder Bread has been given new life—it is now Glendora Public Market, a hip new food hall opened in September 2020 in the quiet foothill town along the 210. The vendors tend to be well-regarded established concepts like Dog Haus, Jinya, and the Torrance-based brewery Smog City, and cuisines run the gamut from Limoné Mediterranean to Boba Break and The Taco Man. For dessert, there are the wildly indulgent sauced up milkshakes from Crepe & Shake, which come in flavors like mazapan, smores, and Ferrero-Rocher.