While we like to think of San Francisco's Ferry Building as the first hip food hall, there's no doubt in our minds that Orange County took the notion and ran a marathon with it. From Lot 579 to 4th Street Market, TRADE to dual Union Markets (and yet another must-visit opening by concept guy, Leonard Chan), we take the popular concepts and house them under one roof. And with you hitting the malls for some shopping, you're gonna need a place to kick up your heels at some point. Here's the rundown of the newest concepts headed your way, complete with some handy links.
Union Market Tustin
Milk Box first opened inside their sister market at Mission Viejo earlier this year. Recent sightings show they are almost ready to launch location number two next door to The Dirty Cookie over at The District. Serving liquid refreshment that isn't too sweet, we look forward to having our Crack Iced Coffee a little closer to home.
Union Market Mission Viejo
Speaking of beverages, Portola Coffee Lab finally launched earlier this month in South County. With ample parking and seating throughout this location, it's a nice spot to get your caffeine fix before or after the movie. Located right as you enter Union Market.
While we did a pretty comprehensive post on this after breaking news of Irvine's future food hall earlier this year, one place that's news to us is Sweet Combforts, a dessert place specializing in hand-held waffle creations. Helmed by Geoffrey Manila and Anne Marie Damasco, they will complement all the deliciousness headed to the soon-to-open (but not soon enough) site. Props to Ootoro Sushi for the first new tenant to be up and running, although they are one of the anchor restaurants and not directly in the hall.
SoCo/The OC Mix
Okay, it's technically not inside the Mix. However, the highly anticipated, membership-driven dining space created by Arc's Marin and Noah is set to open before the end of the year at SoCo. Expect top-notch service and the elevated cuisine we've come to expect from their other Costa Mesa establishments at The Guild Club.
McFadden Public Market
Down the street and around the corner from Santa Ana's 4th Street Market, that man named Chan is up to no good again. Actually, he's banking on upping the ante on how we currently define a food hall. Our friend Nathaniel Nguyen (Happy Belated Birthday!) is leading the charge downstairs, frying cluckers up at Rooster Republic and soothing our sweet tooth with shakes from Milk Man. Quite a change from his Jinny's Pizzeria spot. Head up the stairs, and you'll find yourself at Mission Control, an arcade lounge with full bar and patio seating. Expect opening news early next year.
Huntington Beach's restaurant collection gained that je ne sais quoi when we announced last month Pascal Gimenez planned to extend his Fashion Island cafe by opening Beau Soleil Kitchen across from Burnt Crumbs by next spring. Our last visit to Pacific City found us peering through the windows of The American Dream and noticing appliances ready to unpack and setup.
4th Street Market
The DTSA roundup is undergoing their second round of concept changes. You may recognize one of them as luxe lonchera Falasophy. The last time we ran into Rashad, he was looking for a future brick-and-mortar site. He assured us that the truck will still operate with a regular schedule, but looks forward to finally expanding the menu beyond their ever-popular falafel and hummus-based menu items. Also showing up next year, the return of CIVIC— a juicery and fresh food concept from the owner of existing spots Mar and Terra. What this means, however, is the closure of both KTCHN DTSA and Terra to make room for everyone. Expect CIVIC to carry over some of Terra's items, because owner Jon Melendez wouldn't want to deprive diners of their favorite meals.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.