Our Favorite Food Halls From Around the World
Food halls are quintessential family-friendly destinations with a wide variety of food stalls and fresh produce on offer, there’s something for everyone and nobody has to compromise. And the very best food halls are at the vanguard of a city’s cuisine, making top-notch markets culinary destinations in their own right, and a way to sample a location’s indigenous and international, modern and traditional food heritage. Below are our favorite spots from around the world.
Foodhallen – Amsterdam
Located in a beautifully refurbished former tram depot west of Amsterdam’s old canal ring, Foodhallen is at the very center of the city’s culinary scene. We never thought we would experience an artisanal bitterballen, the national bar-food staple of deep-fried flour and meat mixture, but De Ballenbar brought tears to our eyes for how this simple food stuff could be transformed.
What to eat? There are over twenty food stalls and three bars to choose from, covering a wide variety of international and domestic cuisine. De Ballenbar is obviously a must, and we also enjoyed Basque, Baowowow, and Fento that serves up healthy fare with a Mexican flavor and South Asian twist.
Pipsqueak tip It’s a little far to walk with a child, so you can take a tram, or do as a local, rent a bike with a child seat and cycle to the market.
Mercado da Ribeira – Lisbon
Portugal is no longer an under-the-radar food destination: the secret’s out, and that’s at least in part due to the popularity of the revamped Mercado da Ribeira, now featuring the Time Out Market.
What to eat? When you enter, make a beeline for the back of the main hall, where some of the most special fare can be found: OG octopus salad from Henrique Sá Pessoa, and specialties from Marlene Vieira and Alexandre Silva. Make sure to save just a little room for the most perfect pasteis de nata you’ve ever had at Manteigaria, still-hot with crackling crust and molten custard.
Pipsqueak tip Aim to arrive early in the day to avoid the elbow-to-elbow crowds, but the efficient staff clear trays and provide highchairs to make it easier on families. Burn off some energy at the playground in the adjacent park just outside the side doors.
Maltby Street Market – London
Skip the tourists at Borough Market and go to Maltby Market that is sending out some of the best street food in London. A weekend-only operation, it’s inevitably crowded with those in the know, but get there early (Sat from 9–4, Sun from 11–4) and you can take your pick from a tight-knit community of traders, alongside permanent businesses ensconced in the railway arches.
What to eat? Stallholders change periodically, but at the time of writing the savoury stuff includes epic fish finger sandwiches and gluten-free fish tacos from Shoal Food’s seafood shack, dumplings or udon noodles from the Gyoza Guys (just ask them to leave off the potent drizzle of chilli oil) and monster grilled cheese sandwiches from The Cheese Truck. For the sweet of tooth, there are waffles, patisserie goodies and a smoothie stall.
Pipsqueak tip Afterwards it’s about a five minute walk to Tower Bridge and then over to Tower of London to hit up some favorite tourist sites.
Krog Street Market – Atlanta
In what was once a pot-belly stove factory, Atlantans now find a host of culinary choices, including award-winning chefs, and destination-worthy dining. The Krog Street Market highlights for us (and our pipsqueaks) include: Bar Mercado, for Saturday tapas; Gu’s Dumplings; Little Tart Bakeshop; Recess; and of course Jeni’s Ice Cream. In addition to all the necessary changing and highchair facilities, there’s bike parking, electric car charging, and free 30min wifi.
Torvehallerne – Copenhagen
We know that you came to Copenhagen for the food scene, so of course you won’t miss a morning stroll through Torvehallerne — it’s open from 10am, so perfect for a jetlagged fresh breakfast or in-between meal. The don’t miss spots are Coffee Collective, porridge from Grød, beer from the Mikkeller & Friends bottleshop, and even though it doesn’t sound very Danish, we have endless fun watching the fresh tortillas get produced at Hija de Sanchez — they might even hand an extra one to your pipsqueak, just for being cute.
Urbanspace Vanderbilt – New York
Why go? The funky food hall, just across the street from Grand Central Station, gives everyone the chance to eat what they’re craving to eat. The place has 20 different stalls, plus a surprising number of seats. It bustles but never feels overwhelming like other food halls.
What to order? Pizza from the famous Roberta’s, ramen noodles from Kuro-obi and—for your sweet tooth—doughnuts from Dough. Also, kids tend to beeline to Andrew’s Roadside for burgers, shakes and candy.
Pipsqueak tip They do have high chairs on the premises so don’t be shy to ask for one.
Grand Central Market – Los Angeles
A large, and family friendly food hall with something for everyone — Ana Maria, Eggslut and Sarita’s Papuseria are among our favorite vendors.
Borough Market – London
Under the train tracks of London Bridge station, the neighborhood has undergone a renaissance in no small part to the thriving food scene that has radiated out from Borough Market. While you will find fruit & veg and some meat purveyors, it’s the international mix of food stalls and delicacies that packs in the crowds. The full market is open Wednesday to Saturday (limited traders Monday and Tuesday), but it does get crowded, especially on Saturday, so try to come early.
Pipsqueak tip Once you’ve grabbed some food, make your way to Southwark churchyard next to the market and find a spot to sit and enjoy your meal. And there are lots of tourist sites nearby such as Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde ship just north of the market and the Old Operating Theatre Museum a short walk South.
Dekalb Market – New York
Why go? It’s slightly hard to find, in the basement of a Century 21-helmed mall, but if you find yourself near this crossroads in Brooklyn (this is where to eat before a show at BAM, and a good option for a fast dinner near the Barclays Center) you’ll feel like you’ve found a food oasis.
What to Eat There are more great options than you can eat in one visit, but highlights for us are the famous Arepa Lady and her fluffy namesake arepas, a branch of Katz’s deli that serves pastrami almost as good as the original, spicy chicken noodle pho from Bunker, and savory Jianbiang pancakes filled with 13-spice pork.
Ben Thanh Market – Vietnam
Why go? Ben Thanh Market is the most famous market in Saigon, and perhaps all of Vietnam. It comes highly recommended by anyone who has visited, and is listed as a must-see on virtually every tourist guide book. In fact, it is so popular (for both locals and tourists) that used as a landmark for addressing other locations in the city.
What to order? This place is BIG (with some 3000 stalls) so be prepared to take some time to browse, walk around and shop at your leisure. In the middle of the market is where you’ll find yourself immersed in Vietnamese food. We suggest sampling many different local foods such as Vietnamese pancake, chicken rice and traditional Vietnamese iced milk coffee. Note that you can also enjoy a delicious dinner during Ben Thanh’s Night Market as well as at the nearby Streetfood Market, famous for local and fusion dishes.
Pipsqueak tip The first stalls you’ll see outside the rear end (north gate) are fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and flowers. Depending on your kids, it might be fun to check out some of the more exotic displays and vendors.
Östermalms Saluhall – Stockholm
Since 1888, Stockholm’s Östermalm’s Saluhall has been inspiring Stockholmers and tourists with local food at its finest. So it should come as no surprise that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently named Östermalms Saluhall one of his favorite places to visit and eat.