One of the most challenging parts of planning a vacation is deciding where to eat. It’s often impossible to visit every place on your list, but there is a way to experience as much of a city’s food scene in one place as possible: by visiting its most popular food hall or market. Go beyond restaurant dining and discover each of these U.S. cities through their must-visit markets and food halls.
When Grand Central Market first opened in the Beaux-Arts-style Homer Laughlin Building in 1917, it was known as Wonder Market, “the largest and finest public market on the Pacific Coast.” A Downtown LA institution and a frequent stop on local foodie tours, the market’s 40 stalls feature cuisine that celebrates the immigrants who shaped the city. Bring your appetite and sample everything from ceviche-topped tostadas to homestyle Korean fare.
Since opening in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood in 1912, West Side Market has been the city’s “oldest continuously operating municipally owned market.” Easily recognized by its landmark clock tower, the market houses over 100 vendors, including bakers, butchers and fishmongers alongside ready-to-eat foods like gyros and bratwurst.
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and the former home of the National Biscuit Company, Chelsea Market is so much more than a food hall. Hailed as one of the world’s most renowned indoor markets, visitors can shop for artisanal cheeses, dine on hand-pulled Chinese noodles and even shop for unique gifts crafted by local creators.
Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market spans nine acres in historic downtown Seattle. One of the United States’ oldest and largest continuously operating public markets, it is home to over 500 small businesses, including specialty shops, restaurants and farmers’ stands. More than 10 million people visit the market each year, making it Seattle’s most popular tourist destination and the 33rd most-visited tourist attraction in the world.
With 20 locally owned restaurants and shops, The Market House at the Nashville Farmers’ Market offers visitors everything from Southern BBQ to Caribbean cuisine. After sampling some of the tasty treats, head outside to the year-round market’s farm sheds, and shop for fresh produce, honey, cheese and more.
To experience seasonal, locally sourced food from across New England, head to the Boston Public Market in the city’s up-and-coming Market District. Open year-round, the indoor marketplace has 30 artisans and food producers offering prepared meals, fresh produce, baked goods and so much more.
One of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks also happens to be a destination for food aficionados. First opened as the city’s transportation hub in 1898, long before the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge reduced ferry boat traffic, it was repurposed in 2003 as the world-class Ferry Building Marketplace that we know today. During your visit, you can savor gourmet fare like caviar and oysters or tuck into comforting empanadas and wood-fired bagels.
Founded in 2009, the Chicago French Market is a destination for locals and visitors looking for a European-inspired marketplace experience. Over 30 local vendors offer a wide selection of global eats that celebrate the city’s melting pot neighborhoods, and you can find everything from irresistible Cubano sandwiches to Chinese street food and hand-cut Belgian fries. The indoor market’s seating area was created to look like a Parisian street cafe, complete with a mural of Paris at night.
Since it first opened its doors in 1893, Reading Terminal Market has been one of the top public markets in the nation and the most popular tourist destination in Philadelphia after the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Inside the historic building, you’ll find more than 80 merchants selling produce straight from the farm, fresh-baked Amish goods and even America’s oldest ice cream company, Bassetts, which also happens to be the first merchant to sign a lease at the market in 1892.
Set in downtown Portland’s historic Carriage & Baggage Building, Pine Street Market is the city’s first food hall. The building itself had several lives before the market opened in 2016, including its beginnings as a storage facility for horse-drawn carriages and livery. Its nine stalls have featured some of the area’s top chefs offering up an assortment of fare in a casual setting, accompanied by craft beer and cocktails.
The Milwaukee Public Market has been hailed as the city’s “most unique downtown food destination” since opening in 2005. The main floor of the building features an assortment of independent vendors, including brewers, a spice shop and a chocolatier. Shop for ingredients to create a feast at home, take a cooking class or pick up something ready to eat, and enjoy it in their second-floor Palm Garden seating area.
Eastern Market has been a strong part of the Capitol Hill community since 1873, and not even a devastating fire in 2007 could keep it down. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, it has indoor and outdoor vendor areas offering local and international fare. Shop for fresh, locally sourced produce, meats and cheeses at one of the weekly outdoor farmers’ markets, or head indoors to the South Hall Market for fresh pasta, baked goods, seafood and more.
If food tourism is your first choice when planning a getaway, head to The Source Hotel and Market Hall in Denver’s RiNo Art District. A former 1880s brick foundry is the foundation of the hotel’s 45,000-square-foot culinary complex, featuring 25 artisan vendors making everything from wood-fired meats to gourmet pizzas.
For 200 years, the historic French Market has been a cultural hub in New Orleans. When visiting the city, it’s the ultimate spot to try Cajun and Creole dishes like jambalaya, etouffee, a legendary New Orleans Muffuletta sandwich, or king cakes. By far, the most popular spot at the market is Café Du Monde, home to café au lait and beignets since 1862.
Nestled in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood along the Atlanta BeltLine, Ponce City Market transformed a historic Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog facility into a mixed-use development with retail, offices, residences and a food hall. With an array of cuisines like Iranian, Indian and Vietnamese offered by more than 30 vendors, each visit to the food hall is a culinary adventure.