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The California Markets and Food Courts That Are Too Good to Miss

The California Markets and Food Courts That Are Too Good to Miss

By California.com
October 20, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

California’s markets and food courts aren’t just places to have lunch—you can embark on culinary adventures and open yourself up to new and exciting experiences. Thanks to the cultural diversity of the Golden State, you can get a taste of Korea, Italy, Spain, India, and many other countries without having to travel all the way to the other side of the world.

Gourmet food courts and markets continue to pop up across the state, and it’s easy to understand why they’re becoming increasingly popular and taking over the dining scene. Aside from the allure of delicious food and general convenience, food halls also allow diners to pick their favorite dishes and snacks from different restaurants, satisfying nearly any craving. Create and enjoy the meal of your dreams at these can’t-miss California markets and food courts.

The iconic gourmet food courts to add to your list

Embark on your Anaheim culinary adventure and find an incredible foodie experience in the Anaheim Packing District.

1. Anaheim Packing District

Location: 440 South Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim

Situated in the heart of downtown Anaheim, the historic Anaheim Packing District is a 42,000-square-foot gourmet food court that provides the best gastronomic experience in the city. The District, which encompasses four historic landmarks, is one of the last remaining citrus packing warehouses in Orange County and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Featuring a railroad car patio and both indoor and outdoor music venues, the gourmet food hall offers guests eclectic dining experiences with one-of-a-kind culinary delights. You can indulge in countless choices of delectable food, and you can’t go wrong here. Once you’re done spending the day at “The Happiest Place on Earth,” continue your Anaheim adventures by heading over to the food court to order your favorite eats and thirst quenchers. 

Don't miss the iconic Grand Central Market in downtown L.A., where you can have lunch or shop for fresh produce.

2. Grand Central Market

Location: 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles

Spending the day in Los Angeles and not visiting the Grand Central Market is basically blasphemy. The downtown landmark first opened in 1917 and has been a foodie’s paradise ever since. Celebrating the diverse cuisines and cultures in Los Angeles, this gastronome’s heaven highlights the city’s different communities in the same spot.

The 30,000-square-foot California market is the perfect lunch destination—Thai street food, artisanal ice cream, fresh seafood, wood-fired pizza, and pressed juice are just a handful of the options available. Whether you grab wonton soup and chow mein from China Cafe (one of the market’s oldest vendors) or handmade pasta from Knead & Co. Pasta Bar and Market, savor your meal alfresco and watch the passersby on Broadway. 

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3. Corporation Food Hall

Location: 724 South Spring Street, Los Angeles

Another exciting gourmet food hall located in bustling downtown Los Angeles is Corporation Food Hall. This hot spot is smaller than Grand Central Market but offers plenty of pet-friendly outdoor seating, fast service, laid-back vibes, and an array of food vendors.

Serving guests a variety of Asian, Hispanic, and Mediterranean selections, the gourmet food court is a great place to stop by for a quick bite or to enjoy a refreshing beverage with your friend. A classic latte, freshly-made pasta, tapioca boba tea, and fried chicken sandwiches are merely a few of the offerings available here. Get adventurous and try something new every day of the week.

The chef-driven collection of California fare at Taste Food Hall is best enjoyed with your better half. Photo courtesy of FIGat7th.

4. TASTE Food Hall 

Location: 735 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles

Reflecting the heart and soul of D.T.L.A., Taste Food Hall is a chef-driven collection of California favorites. The gourmet food court is home to numerous fast-casual eateries that can please any palate.

Get a juicy burger from Five Guys or a classic grilled cheese sandwich and house-made tomato soup from The Melt. For something more adventurous, thrill your taste buds with a meal at Saffron—the heavenly naan bread and the signature tandoori chicken dish are best enjoyed with a mango lassi. No matter what you indulge in for lunch or dinner, don't leave without grabbing dessert from Sprinkles Cupcakes, which makes your sweetest dreams become a reality. 

Indulge in a decadent meal and refuel for the day at Fourth Street Market. Photo courtesy of Fourth Street Market.

5. Fourth Street Market

Location: 201 East Fourth Street, Santa Ana

Fourth Street Market is Orange County’s favorite gourmet food court. Designed to introduce new dining experiences for everyone to enjoy, the California market unites incubator kitchens, unique restaurants, and coffee roasters to create innovative meals and concepts. From nontraditional Hawaiian food and internationally renowned Mexican dishes to savory Vietnamese crêpes and plant-based fare, this cool food hall has it all.

The Deli Station is the first spot to catch your eye; preparing timeless sandwiches and salads, this spot constantly looks for ways to add creative touches to classic options. If you have a sweet tooth, Chunk-N-Chip is your go-to place. Using simple, all-natural ingredients to create heavenly ice cream, the dessert shop immediately gets your taste buds popping thanks to the fun and seasonal flavors.

Established in 1917, Swan's Market is a longtime Bay Area favorite thanks to the delectable fare served here. Photo courtesy of Bartable.

6. Swan’s Market

Location: 538 Ninth Street, Oakland

Swan’s Market was built in 1917 and is everyone’s favorite gourmet food court in Oakland. Featuring fast-casual and affordable dining options, the noteworthy downtown landmark has defined Oakland since its construction and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The modern incarnation of the city’s original central market is an epicurean delight that provides a wonderful dining experience.

The vendors here serve up a variety of delicious dishes such as authentic tacos, fresh oysters, sushi, pizza, and Afro-Caribbean fare. Stop by Cosecha Café to try the famed quesadillas featuring crimini mushrooms and Oaxacan cheese tucked inside handmade tortillas. For coastal-inspired cuisine, The Cook and Her Farmer is your go-to spot; order a grilled cheese with gulf shrimp and green onions to get a taste of heaven in Oakland. 

Savor exquisite cuisine from C Casa and other top Bay Area food vendors at Public Market Emeryville. Photo courtesy of Public Market Emeryville.

7. The Public Market Emeryville

Location: 5959 Shellmound Street, Emeryville

Providing locals and visitors with delicious food since the late 80s, The Public Market Emeryville has maintained its status as a popular destination for people seeking a place to gather and enjoy exquisite cuisine. The gourmet food court boasts 17 unique eateries that represent the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area through appetizing meals.

Public Market Emeryville offers a wide selection of food from local independent purveyors. Chow down on lamb, naan, and samosas from Wazwan Indian Cuisine; finger-lickin' good barbecue from Pig in a Pickle; succulent pollo a la brasa from Paradita Eatery; or rosemary fried chicken and cornbread from Minnie Bell's Soul Movement. Regardless of what you decide upon, head to the great outdoors to savor your meal alfresco.

Oxbow Public Market serves up everything from mouthwatering lobster sandwiches to fresh oysters. Photo courtesy of Oxbow Public Market.

8. Oxbow Public Market

Location: 610 1st Street, Napa

While strolling through the streets of downtown Napa, you’ll come across one of the most talked-about California marketplace and food courts in NorCal: Oxbow Public Market. A community gathering place for delicious food, the market is where locals and visitors are given the opportunity to discover one-of-a-kind culinary products and gifts. Featuring a riverside deck, food vendors, and local produce, the Oxbow enables some of the best chefs and greatest restaurants in the region to share their creations with locals and visitors alike.

The 40,000-square-foot market supports sustainable, local agriculture and offers the best of Napa Valley. Grab the signature English muffins from Model Bakery, slurp prized oysters from Hog Island Oyster Bar, and savor reimaged Mexican cuisine at C Casa. You can also take home a variety of goods—meat, fish, cheese, charcuterie, organic produce, baked goods, olive oil—to craft a satisfying meal using local products. 

Located along the Embarcadero, the famed Ferry Building Marketplace is a top destination for foodies in San Francisco.

9. Ferry Building Marketplace

Location: 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a San Francisco landmark that you just can’t miss. As its name implies, the California market and food court is located inside the iconic Ferry Building, which also houses offices and a terminal for ferries traveling across the San Francisco Bay. Opened in 1898, the building has stood tall as the city flourished and prospered. Now, it is a world-class public food market operated by the nonprofit Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

Widely acclaimed for the quality and diversity of its farm-fresh products, the Ferry Building Marketplace provides shoppers with artisanal and prepared foods that make your mouth water. From gourmet coffee, local cheeses, and handcrafted ice cream to enviable oysters, Vietnamese street food, and baked goods, the S.F. food hall provides something to satiate any craving. There’s no denying that the S.F. landmark brings rhythm and meaning to the 40,000-plus people who frequent the marketplace every week.

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