Food trucks had their big moment in Orlando (and we wouldn’t count them out anytime soon), but in our climate, a roof over some cooled air is a big plus when eating. Food halls satisfy the desire to flit from dish to dish like a honeybee in a garden, while protecting your precious banh mi or ice cream sandwich from the elements. Here are a few well-loved local spots, a couple of sumptuous Tampa halls that are well worth the drive and a promise of good things to come in North Orlando.
MEET THE LOCALS:
Market on Magnolia (150 S. Magnolia Ave.): This is the only food hall in downtown; it's small in size but mighty in taste. This two-story space serves up flavorful poké bowls, Neapolitan pizza, and an array of sandwiches and other easily shared bar food. The full bar serves 75 craft beers (40 of which are on tap), making MOM a thirst-quenching spot for a weekday happy hour or pre- and post-downtown event fun.
Plant Street Market (426 W. Plant St., Winter Garden): When small-town charm meets a food hall, you get Winter Garden's Plant Street Market. The space includes its own brewery, 20 food vendors and hand-made artisanal products. On any given weekend you'll find the expansive patio packed with locals and live music. The food boasts more sophistication with wood-fired pizza, sushi, Raclette cheese wheels, a local bakery, craft coffee, cold-pressed juice and vegan dishes.
Hall on Franklin (1701 N. Franklin St., Tampa): While food halls don't often have a dress code, one step inside the Hall on Franklin and you may feel the need to ditch your flip-flops. There are seven stalls that serve craft coffee, seafood, hearty melts, Korean and Vietnamese food, poké and local baked goods. This elevated food hall experience comes with a hostess and servers that attend to your every need, with a shared area for laptop working or lounging. Prices are moderate, with no single regular item going beyond $15, and they do celebrate happy hour.
Armature Works + Heights Public Market (1910 N. Ola Ave., Tampa): With 14 food options (and more to come), the Heights Public Market inside Armature Works is without a doubt the most robust market we have to visit within a bearable driving distance. An overwhelming feeling of indecision will take over as you walk down the long corridor with different smells and sights drawing you in multiple directions. Whether you choose Mexican, Cuban, Asian or American fare, take it slow and get small tastes of everything. Parking is easy thanks to the on-site garages that work on a voucher and validation system. Communal seating is plentiful, but you'll also find cozy corners to enjoy with a laptop and a craft coffee.
Henry's Depot (henrysdepot.com): The soon-to-open Henry's Depot in Sanford will convert a historic train depot going back to the late 1800s into a local food hall, which will add to the growing foodie scene. The already-established Dixie Dharma and the Nutty Peanut will bring vegan-friendly options among other tastes including wood-fired pizza, Greek food and a full bar. It's right off the main drag downtown on First Street, so parking options surround the location, and its proximity to Lake Monroe for an after-dinner, scenic lakefront stroll a block away at Veterans Memorial Park is an added bonus.