It all began with Liberty Station, the food hall that threw San Diego’s hat in the ring with legendary foodie meccas like L.A.’s Grand Central Market and Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Luckily, the folks of Liberty Public Market were humble enough to know they could never replicate said halls, which was a key component to their success. Uniquely San Diego, located in old naval barracks and with San Diego-based companies, Liberty Public Market draws big crowds and has found a personality of its own. Following this success, Little Italy Food Hall debuted this summer to rave reviews. The Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad opened in early fall, and groundbreaking for the Outpost in Poway—a three-building mixed-use development including an urban food hall—took place in late August. And more are on their way. It’s safe to say that the food hall has officially landed.
“Food halls are so popular today because they appeal to a group of people who have a variety of tastes—no more arguments in the group over where to eat,” explains Mike DiNorscia, CEO of hospitality group Grain & Grit Collective, co-creators of the Little Italy Food Hall. “They have evolved over the generations, becoming more of a social dining concept and less of a cafeteria setting. Instead of large corporate restaurants, food halls are featuring unique, more artisanal vendors.”
While the average fine diner might sneer at the idea of a food hall dinner, or company meal at a communal table, the luxe offerings of Little Italy Food Hall—like Ambrosio 15, an authentic Italian coal-fired pizza locale, or the Food Hall Bar with craft cocktails and an impressive wine list—could make believers out of doubters.