Chicago’s Booming Food-Hall Scene, Decoded
There at least 5 new options, and 4 more on the way
Food halls are taking over Chicago one stall at a time.
From Revival to Wells St. Market to the most recent addition, Politan Row, the city has seen an influx of them open over the past two years, each with its own aesthetic and appeal.
Can’t get enough of the trend? There are more to come. The West Loop will soon see the openings of Fulton Galley (June) and Time Out Market (Q3), while Hayden Hall will open in the South Loop in early fall. Urbanspace is set to debut in Willis Tower soon thereafter.
In anticipation of the next round of openings, we decided to take a look at the five best options that are already up and running. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about each one, including who it appeals to and what to order.
Whether you view them as glorified food courts or yet another feather in the cap of the best restaurant city in America, there’s a place out there that’ll help you while away an afternoon — and an appetite.
Who it’s for: West Loop dwellers and office workers looking for a diverse lunch spot or post-work happy-hour buzz.
What to expect: With its opening in May 2019, Politan Row is the latest and greatest food hall in Chicago. This food hall, bar and beer garden is from the team behind St. Roch Market in New Orleans and Miami. The sprawling hall also features an outdoor beer garden housed in a shipping container, while Bar Politan is a striking focal point with gold accents.
Our favorite booth: With 13 vendors to choose from, you’ll need to strategize. Be sure to stop by LaShuk Street Food (Israel street food) and Thattu (Indian fare from the Kerala state).
What to order there: Hummus bowls topped with crispy falafel or marinated chicken paired with homemade pita at LaShuk, and egg curry with appam or Kerala fried chicken at Thattu.
One Eleven Food Hall
Who it’s for: Pullman neighbors and non-neighbors alike, vegans and soul-food lovers.
What to expect: A project of the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, One Eleven opened in May and is the South Side’s first food hall; the locally grown spots include Majani Soulfood Vegan Cuisine, Exquisite to Go and Laine’s Bake Shop.
Our favorite booth: Since it’s the smallest of Chicago’s food halls, you can easily try a bite from each of the three stalls.
What to order there: Grab BBQ cauliflower at Majani, braised brisket and mac and cheese at Exquisite to Go, and peach cobbler or banana pudding from Laine’s Bake Shop.
Wells St. Market
Who it’s for: The business lunch crowd in the Loop.
What to expect: Opened in June 2018, Wells St. Market offers 11 stalls, including local mini-chains like Furious Spoon and Firecakes, to new independent fast casuals. The bright 10,500-square-foot space offers cuisine ranging from healthy fare and sushi to burritos, donuts and pierogi.
Our favorite booth: Tempesta Market and Piggie Smalls.
What to order there: Don’t sleep on the Dante sandwich, loaded with four types of Italian meats at Tempesta Market, and consider the build-your-own-bowls or sandwiches topped with tender rotisserie pork or chicken from chef Jimmy Bannos Jr.
Who it’s for: Streeterville shoppers, Gold Coast residents and tourists.
What to expect: Located on the top two floors of the 900 N. Michigan Avenue Shops, Aster Hall opened in November from the team at Hogsalt Hospitality. The cashless food hall features kiosk ordering from a whopping 16 food “vaults.” This place screams luxury with its suede and leather furniture, brass accents and marble tables.
Our favorite booth: It’s hard to choose when there is something for everyone, but don’t miss the Motor City Pizza plus Hogsalt classics like Green Street Smoked Meats and Small Cheval.
What to order there: Detroit-style pepperoni pizza, the pulled pork sandwich and the classic cheeseburger. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the sixth-floor lounge, which is ideal for both coffee and cocktails.
Revival Food Hall
Who it’s for: Hungry Loop office workers and pre-theater dinners.
What to expect: Revival opened in August 2016 from the team behind 16″ On Center (Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle) in a historic Daniel Burnham building in the heart of the Loop. The industrial space is home to 17 vendors including The Fat Shallot, Lito’s Empanadas, Smoque BBQ and Hot Chocolate Bakery, plus a rotating pop-up food stall.
Our favorite booth: Danke — from the team at Logan Square’s Table, Donkey and Stick — whips up solid sandwiches on housemade baguettes. Be sure to stop by the latest pop-up stall, Petit Bouchon, a Belgian street food concept, while it’s there.
What to order there: A hearty grilled ham-and-cheese at Danke or Petit Bouchon’s raclette burger topped with raclette, duck fat onions and guanciale paired with a side of duck-fat frites.