With nine out of ten tenants locked in, the specialized offerings at Mess Hall Market are set to rival its upscale counterparts. Under construction by the corner of Red Hill and Barranca, they expect to be ready early next year. The same property management company currently oversees TRADE down the street in Irvine, making us confident the 12,000 square foot facility will be on schedule. Featuring a few familiar faces, we offer you the starting lineup.
A favorite chef by both OC Weekly staff and readers (as evidenced by our 2018 Best of issue ), Andrew Gruel is at it again with another new concept. New Jersey, “East Coast-style by the slice” pizza is his focus, and we expect the same level of awesomeness as his other eateries.
Laguna Beach residents are already familiar with some of Saigon’s cuisine, as ownership also runs Another Kind Cafe. They stopped by while we had dinner at TRADE to introduce themselves and provide menus of their quick service storefront. Cooking up their version of Vietnamese classics, expect savory banh mi sandwiches, steaming pho and lemongrass chicken. We’re craving their Special #1: minced pork flavored with cayenne, garlic and basil, topped with fried egg over jasmine rice. www.saigonkitchen.net .
The Sandwich Society
Already established in Santa Ana, this society knows how to stand out. Bubble waffle bread and Boar’s Head meats are a couple of the reasons why you’ll be frequenting their stall. We are crossing our fingers for an all-day brekkie burrito option. Hey, a food writer can dream. www.thesandwichsociety.com .
During our construction walk-through, we were delighted to see Danny Godinez  plating tacos reflecting his upcoming menu of Mexican specialties. One bite, and we nearly cried tears of joy. Think Sonora-style burritos wrapped in fresh flour tortillas and traditional enchiladas, featuring the memorable flavors he’s known for. And don’t forget the guacamole.
With a location in uptown Whittier, Chef Aaron J. Perez is ready to bring his award-winning, gourmet burgers to Mess Hall. His ingredient arsenal includes truffle oil, duck confit, beer-battered tempura onion rings, bacon jam and caramelized Firestone DBA onions. Dang. www.vakaburgers.com .
The Lost Bean
Another familiar face we spotted during our hard hat tour was Bodie Rasmussen, proprietor of his Lost Bean brand in Tustin since 2005. Their pourover magic was a welcome sight. Rasmussen’s presence affirmed for us that the food hall was truly focused on locally-driven concepts. www.thelostbean.com .
For diners craving sustainable seafood, Chef Gruel’s mini Slapfish concept has got your back. Operating as a “Roll in the Wall”, their specialty will be succulent lobster cradled in toasted, split top butter rolls and prepared a handful of ways: cold, warm, spicy, and even lettuce-wrapped. www.slapfishrestaurant.com .
The Little Greek
In addition to Lost Bean, Bodie Rasmussen’s second concept at Mess Hall features freshly prepared salads, grilled meats and flavors that’ll transport folks to Peloponnese, Greece. Bring it on, Bodie!
The Bar at Flight
Finally, not to be outdone by his counterparts (Do we sense a trend?), Chef Godinez is bringing booze to the market with his craft cocktail bar. Worldly wines will mingle alongside both classic and innovative beverages. See you at the bar.
Mess Hall Market will be located on the same property as Flight at Tustin Legacy. ETA early 2019. www.flight-tustin.com .