10 Food Halls to Try Around the World

Don’t just chase fancy restaurants and award-winning chefs on your next vacay: These food halls serve up a veritable smorgasbord of local delights that can’t be missed
Markthal Rotterdam
Markthal Rotterdam
Markthal Rotterdam
April 10, 2019

1. Time Out Market Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

From generous helpings of charcoal-roasted chicken dressed in peri-peri sauce – arguably one of Portugal’s most famous exports – served with hot, salty fries, to fresh seafood (such as hearty fish fillets or garlic-laden steamed clams and buttery mussels), crispy croquettes drizzled with squid ink and hand-made pastas, and desserts from melt-in-your-mouth gelato to flaky, golden-brown pasteis de nata (Portugal’s famous egg custard tarts), this place is so popular that you’ll have to be prepared to scout for a seat eagle-eyed during peak dining hours. It’s well worth the wait though, and you can always grab a bevy or a few while you wait.


Harrods, London

2. Harrods, London, UK

If gourmet, limited-edition and high-quality artisan food is your jam (pun intended), this is where you’ll find it, from dainty little macarons to deliciously stinky aged cheeses and more. The seafood is truly a wonder to behold, from heaps of fresh fish sold alongside the most decadent caviar (complete with ice sculptures and beautiful mirrors reflecting the gilded décor) and rich lobsters and ultra-fresh oysters served off a marble bar. The hall is beautiful too, with recently redesigned Art Nouveau interiors and an absolutely classic vibe that’s still entirely Instagram-worthy through the ages.


3. Chelsea Market, New York City, USA

This food hall is one of NYC’s most famous, and for good reason: It’s chock full of truly impressive foodie options that really satisfy everyone, and while each neighbourhood or borough of New York might argue that theirs is better, this one truly does hit all the right notes. Whether it’s the famously juicy lobster rolls that often demand queues snaking down the hallway, farm-to-table organic fresh produce, or freshly-baked goods that will have you hankering for as many carbs as you can handle, the food never lets you down and it’s surprisingly affordable, too. Its location – smack near the trendy Meatpacking District and within walking distance of the must-see Highline Park.


4. Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, USA

While San Francisco takes pride in its eclectic and highly-rated foodie options (even beyond the vineyards), delicious seafood and culturally-fused cuisine are arguably among the city’s greatest strengths, and you’ll find it all here. Binge on freshly made tacos and empanadas, and lip-smackingly good seafood or try the hand-churned ice cream, artisanal breads and pastries, and blow-your-mind salads made with locally-sourced veggies.


5. Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, USA

This iconic market takes pride in offering a huge variety of food to satisfy every type of craving. Juicy burgers, tacos, currywurst, crispy tempura, hot and hand-pulled noodles, fresh bread, eggs, smelly cheeses, BBQs, melt-in-your-mouth kebabs, pasta, fresh seafood, spicy curries, home-made ice cream, steaming bowls of ramen, roasts worthy of a family dinner – you name it, they’ll probably have it. This downtown LA landmark has been running since 1917, and it’s open seven days a week.


6. Food Garden, Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana may have more of a reputation for partying than much else, but this foodie haven is a gem not to be missed. From fruity drinks and chilaquiles (fried tortillas coated with salsa) to mole poblanos (rich chocolate-tinged sauce), chilli-and-cheese laced corn kernels, and of course, silky guacamole with freshly-made tortilla chips and tacos of every kind, it’s an excellent reminder of the fact that Mexican food is so much more than fajitas and salsa. That’s not all they have though: There are also flakey crêpes, fresh sushi, steaks, exotic teas (don’t miss the hibiscus), and more – and unlike many other food halls, they can bring orders to your table too.


7. Matkthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

When this market was opened back in 2014, it was done by a queen – Queen Maxima of The Netherlands. It’s also the first indoor market hall in the country, and it simultaneously serves as a residential complex, office building, shopping space and parking garage. The Netherlands is an unsung hero when it comes to creative ways to serve and present beautiful fresh produce (they led the charge on edible flowers, after all). This is really exhibited in the food hall, where you can find everything from high-quality cured meats and spices to seafood, candy, fruit drinks and authentic foods from a number of countries.


La Pa Sat, Singapore

8. Lau Pa Sat, Singapore City, Singapore

Even if you haven’t watched Crazy Rich Asians, you’re likely to have heard of Singapore’s famous food markets, and this one (also known as Telok Ayer Market) is among the best. Street food is a hallmark of many East Asian countries, and food halls like this one (locally known as “Hawker Centres”) allow you to sample much of the best of it at seriously cheap prices. Here, you can tuck into whole chilli-laced crab, hot bowls of noodle soup or tasty noodle stir-fries, crispy tofu, radish and turnip cakes, fried rice and plenty more. Claim a table using an object (preferably not one of value though, safety first!), or with one of your party holding firm, then try as many foods as possible.


9. Les Halles De Lyon Paul Bocuse, Lyon

Lyon, France’s third-largest city, is also the country’s gastronomic capital. And a trip to this culinary haven is not to be missed. It’s the fancy food-hall equivalent of Wonka’s chocolate factory where you’ll find everything from macarons to fruit, patisserie to escargots. Do pay a visit to Mons – one of four on-site cheesemongers – and ask for the brie stuffed with basil, mascarpone.


10. Mercado de la Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain

Part market and part food hall, this place is so good that you’ll be tempted to go back more than once on your trip. As you walk past stalls filled with colourful marzipan sweets, massive legs of cured meats ready to be sliced deli-thin, cheeses, chocolates, vegetables, fruits, and more, you’ll make your way to the back aisles where plenty of little restaurants are ready to serve up all kinds of main dishes and of course, tapas. Munch on everything from patatas bravas (cubes of potato in a spicy tomato sauce) to Spanish omelettes, before taking a long stroll down Las Ramblas to walk it all off.