Orange County Does Food Halls Like It’s Nobody’s Business

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Chef Amar Santana recently opened The Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza.

If there’s one thing developers can’t get enough of, it’s the idea of a food hall — a collection of carefully curated, home-grown eateries that specialize in a particular cuisine or dish. It was commonplace a few years ago to learn a food truck was transitioning into a brick-and-mortar. Nowadays, the trend is more eats that photograph well (a.k.a. “food porn”) on social media and popular individuals supporting new projects.

December brought a new dining destination to South Coast Plaza’s growing food scene. The Hall: Global Eatery has culinary representation by a familiar finalist from Top Chef. Below, we summarize this and a quartet of other new and under-construction halls.

Now Open

The Hall Global Eatery

3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa

The Hall has been conceptualized by Top Chef finalist chef Amar Santana and Ahmed Labbate and is run by the same restaurant group as Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach and Vaca, near Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It is situated in the former Z’ Tejas space. The patio (and select tables inside) are for crudo dining reservations only.

Offerings include:

  • A cafe with fresh baked goods, to-go salads and sandwiches. Breakfast service is forthcoming.
  • Mediterranean quick-service dining; considered the busiest area by far, especially at lunch.
  • A crudo and charcuterie bar offering full-service, countertop seating. Reservations are accepted and recommended.
  • A dedicated cocktail bar with creative selections tucked between patio and crudo bar.

My first visit recommendation: Order the lamb hummus at the crudo and charcuterie bar.

Concept photo courtesy Herb & Ranch

The (Coffee) Bar at Herb & Ranch food range.

Herb & Ranch Food Range

5301 California Ave. #140, Irvine

Herb & Ranch is a concept by chef Brian Malarkey (also a Top Chef finalist) from San Diego. Located down the street from UC Irvine campus, at the UCI Research Park with a recreational area outside includes a trailhead, pool table and couches. It is open  weekdays only for breakfast, lunch and coffee service. Lunch service ends at 2 p.m. and they close by 4 p.m. (We learned this the hard way.) Catering is available with advanced notice.

Offerings include:

  • Greens & Grains: Build-a-bowl with lettuce or brown rice/quinoa mix base.
  • The Press: Panini-style sandwiches, plus soup options.
  • Mahalo: Poke bowls with tofu and teriyaki chicken.
  • Build-a-Plate: Proteins include salmon and sirloin; sides offer hummus and street corn, among others.
  • The Grill: Specializing in breakfast burritos, fancy toast, plus a duo of hash.
  • The Bar: Coffee specialties, snacks, plus bottled beverages.

My first visit recommendation: The Bar sells a killer molasses, ginger, and date cookie. Grab one if there are any left.

Photo courtesy Marguarite Clark Public Relations

The Great Eight burger from The Penalty Box.

SteelCraft Garden Grove 

12900 S Euclid St., Garden Grove

With locations already open in Long Beach and Bellflower, you’ll find an expansive parking and plenty of seating available at this third location. It’s perhaps the best example of a food hall with regards to layout. One can see nearly all concepts from the communal tables in the center.

Offerings include:

  • The Penalty Box: Burgers, dogs, and fries associated with retired Anaheim Ducks player Teemu Selanne.
  • Dark Horse Coffee Roasters: Get your caffeine from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Nest: Bellflower-based; serving breakfast specialties until 3 p.m.
  • Renegade Taco: Craft-fusion eats in a handy vessel.
  • Honey & Butter: Decorative macaron brand for that quick dessert fix.
  • Chick ‘N Shack: Classic Hainan chicken and rice.
  • Cauldron Ice Cream: Liquid nitrogen desserts, featuring puffle cones and rose-shaped scoops.
  • Beachwood Brewing: Established taps in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Seal Beach.
  • Barrio: Filipino BBQ rice plates, a staple at family get-togethers.
  • Wilson Creek Winery (coming soon): Temecula-based pours best known for their almond champagne.

My first visit recommendation: It’s all about the sauces at the Chick ‘N Shack.

In the Works

Drawing courtesy Andy Nguyen

Concept drawing of Rodeo 39 exterior.

Rodeo 39 Public Market

12865 Beach Blvd., Stanton

Per creative director Andy Nguyen, “The Rodeo 39 project is a hometown gift. To us, the word ‘Rodeo’ means a gathering. Bringing people together. And the 39 represents Beach Boulevard’s 39 highway. We’ve got a mixed use space. Not just another food hall.”

Located within The Village @ Beach complex, its anticipated opening is slated for late spring/early summer 2020 and promises to be an experimental experience of food, retail, tattoo shops, arcades and more. It’s about bringing out your different senses in a unique setting.

Anticipated offerings to include:

  • Bestea: Craft tea and dessert bar.
  • Ciao! The Italian Eatery: Freshly made pasta.
  • Kra Z Kai’s Laotian BBQ: Exactly what it sounds like.
  • Primal Cuts: An artisan butchery and grill.
  • Shootz Hawaiian: Modern island fare.
  • Staxx: A pastrami delicatessen.
  • R.T.E.: a.k.a. “Ready to Eat” skewer concept. I’ve enjoyed their simply prepared, yet flavorful fare previously at Mission Viejo’s Union Market hall.
  • Dot & Dough: Malasada (think fried doughnut) and (ice) creamery shop.
  • Nandomo by HiroNori: A craft ramen joint.
  • Guapos Tacos: Authentic Mexican eats.
  • Bearded Tang Brewery: Craft brews with dining room and arcade.
  • My First Kiss Coffee: Caffeinated and trendy sips.
  • Steel Pan Pizza: Also found at 4th Street Market.I love their square servings.
  • BeLeaf: Vegan concept.
  • My First Kiss Bakery: Fresh artisanal goods.
  • Rodeo 39 Bar: Urban Western-themed full bar.
  • Oi Asian Fusion: Filipino fusion. I’ve tried their longanisa dish at Chino Hills food hall. Delicious.
  • Hook & Anchor: A seafood eatery with raw bar.

What I am looking forward to: Nandomo – if it’s anything like their Irvine location… Go!

Photo courtesy Anne Marie Panoringan

Egg Slice breakfast sandwich.

Grange Hall 39 

8340 La Palma Ave., Buena Park

Newest to the food scene, Grange Hall 39 is being built into the Buena Park Mall and according to the website, it’s “coming soon” with no specific date listed. The term grange references a classic farmer’s meeting hall.

Anticipated offerings to include:

  • Egg Slice – featuring all-day breakfast sandwiches and similar fare.
  • Burger Monster: Previously a food truck only, now slinging comfort fare.
  • Signature Pho & Desserts: Vietnamese soup and sweets.
  • Van Dyke Coffee Roasters: An award-winning, local shop pouring hot and cold specialties.
  • Pita Grill: Mediterranean fare.
  • Chubbe Monkee: Asian American Fusion.

What I am looking forward to: I highly recommend Egg Slice after experiencing their food multiple times at pop-ups.

Anne Marie Panoringan is the food columnist for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at ampanoringan@voiceofoc.org.