Call them marketplaces, food halls, or contemporary food courts—just don't label them cookie-cutter. Across the West, food courts are playing to today's growing appetite for fresh, handmade dishes, placing mostly small, local, independent eateries side by side.
Oxbow Public Market, Napa
At Oxbow Public Market in the city of Napa, California, you get the full wine country experience distilled. In one long food hall, you'll find artisanal olive oil, full-bodied cabernets, locally made cheeses, pristine produce, organic ice cream, third-wave coffee, and just-shucked oysters. If it all strikes you as a bit much, grab a cheeseburger from Gott’s Roadside and a craft beer at the Berkeley-based Fieldwork Brewing Company’s new taproom on-site.
Pine Street Market, Portland
Pine Street Market puts together some of Portland’s sharpest culinary talent under one roof—with exposed beams, of course. Among the temptations near the center seating area are gourmet hot dogs from charcuterie maker Olympia Provisions, Israeli street food by John Gorham of Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons, and the Wiz Bang Bar, the only soft-serve stand hosted by the creamery Salt & Straw. Keep an eye out for guest chefs’ one-night-only collaborative dinners.
Public Market, Emeryville
Long a destination for international eats just over the border from Oakland, Public Market Emeryville has jazzed itself up. The airy new interior still houses old favorites as Wazwan Indian Cuisine. But more recent purveyors are also luring patrons, who snap up spicy noodles at Shiba Ramen and Korean barbecue beef tacos at KoJa Kitchen. Star Peruvian chef Carlos Altamirano's casual outpost Granja Eatery opens in March.
Santa Barbara Public Market
The cheery buzz in the downtown arts district of Santa Barbara, California, grew louder with two additions to the 3-year-old Santa Barbara Public Market: a sparkling beer garden with upscale pub grub and 41 craft beers on tap, and the red-hot Mexican eatery Corazón Cocina. Other market attractions include Rori’s Artisanal Creamery (a must-try: salted caramel ice cream) and Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar (go for the roasted duck buns).