These Fabulous Food Halls are Taking Over the Twin Cities
By Erica Wacker
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The national food hall phenomenon has arrived in Minneapolis-St. Paul with a vengeance, coming in a wide variety of inventive iterations to attract the masses. So what’s a food hall? Think food court, only trendier—and much more Instagram-worthy.
A longtime landmark of St. Paul's West Seventh Street, the former Schmidt Brewery is back in a big way. Vacant since the brewery closed in 2002, the former keg house reopened in 2018 as Keg and Case. The culinary and retail marketplace houses two-dozen local vendors, including all-natural ice cream shop Sweet Science, Clutch Brewing, a cotton candy maker, Five Watt coffeehouse, flower shop and more.
On the other end of West Seventh near the Xcel Energy Center, Seventh Street Truck Park features RVs and other vehicles serving “road foods” and low-brow beverages in paper bags. For a more upscale experience, Market House Collaborative is home to a butcher shop, bakery, coffee roaster, pie shop, mushroom cultivator and Octo Fishbar seafood restaurant, conveniently located across the street from CHS Field in the trendy Lowertown neighborhood.
For a taste of one of St. Paul's most prevalent cultures, the Hmongtown Marketplace features over 100 vendors serving traditional larb, locally grown Asian produce, papaya salad, bubble tea and so much more. In the summer, the food court expands to include outdoor vendors. Hmong Village, on the city's East Side, is a similarly massive Hmong market.
Opened all the way back in 1997, Mercado Central in south Minneapolis is the granddaddy of Minnesota food halls. The thriving Latino marketplace specializes in tacos, tamales, pupusas and other favorites from Mexico and Latin America, along with a handful of retail storefronts. For a wider variety of international flavors, head to the Midtown Global Market—an incubator for minority business owners selling everything from tamales to camel burgers—less than a mile up the road.
More recent additions to the Minneapolis food hall scene include The Lynhall, serving baked goods, lunch, dinner, coffee and cocktails in Uptown; and Graze Provisions and Libations, with a rooftop deck, two bars, independent food vendors, and a wall of video games on the second floor.
Malcolm Yards Market, slated to open in 2020, will feature a full-service restaurant, central bar, and eight to 10 other vendors serving a variety of “gourmet fast food.” Also in 2020, The Dayton's Food Hall & Market on downtown's Nicollet Mall is one of the city's most-anticipated openings.
Yes it's in a mall, but Potluck is no food court. The suburbs' only food hall, located inside Rosedale Center, features quick-service concepts from local celebs including "Top Chef" Justin Sutherland, morning show host Jason Matheson, and outposts of popular Twin Cities eateries including Smack Shack, Nordic Waffles and Grand Ole Creamery.
Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.
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