Downtown Houston Food Hall Unveils a Super Patio and New Restaurants — Finn Hall Embraces the Outdoors
Houston's Patio Season Gets a Major BoostBY Laurann Claridge // 03.07.22
The exterior of Downtown Houston's Finn Hall Food Hall located in the Jones on Main Building.
Cooler Houston weather will invite dining on the new patio at Finn Hall. (Photo courtesy of Finn Hall)
Lit Chicken served at Finn Hall (Photo courtesy of Lit Chicken)
Finn Hall is getting its own Pho Binh.
Finn Hall is getting a reimagining.
Lit Chicken brings two James Beard nominated chefs to Finn Hall.
Downtown Houston is finally fully back in business. And the powers that be at Finn Hall, the 20,000 square-foot food hall, situated on the ground level of the Jones on Main building are swinging open their patio doors for outdoor dining as the warmer Houston weather arrives.
Designed by SWA, Finn Hall has unveiled a new outdoor dining area that spans across half of the building’s Main Street block. Completion of the 75-seat patio was funded as part of Houston’s “More Space: Main Street” program, which allows Downtown restaurants to expand their outdoor dining by closing select blocks on Main Street to cars.
In October 2019, I wrote about the burgeoning development of several food halls downtown aiming to feed the thousands of employees who filter in and out of those skyscrapers by day, and the increasing number of downtown dwellers looking to dine after dark. But as those food halls, including Finn Hall, were just taking off, the pandemic hit in March of 2020.
In response, Jones on Main owners Lionstone Investments, Midway and JPMorgan Chase joined forces to launch “Finn Hall Feeds the Frontlines” when the food hall first reopened in May of 2020. The innovative campaign gave financial support to those small business operators inside the food hall who in turn worked to feed Houston’s health care heroes by preparing and delivering restaurant-quality meals to frontline workers at Harris County Health’s Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson’s hospitals.
Now culinary director David Buehrer (owner of Greenway Coffee Company, also located within the hall for any coffee cravings) has completely reopened the famed food hall with a number of exciting eateries and programming. There is even a cocktail bar in the storied site originally known as the Gulf Building, a historic landmark considered one of the most significant examples of Art Deco architecture in the United States.
A newbie to Finn Hall? Here is your guide to the restaurant options cooking up some delectable eats.
Your Finn Hall Guide
Local fast-casual chain, Dish Society features a condensed version of chef/owner Aaron Lyon’s menu at its Finn Hall outpost. But you’ll still find fan faves here like pretzels with queso, pimento cheese crackers, pork belly bites and brisket stuffed sweet potato.
After the closing of their beloved fried chicken spot Kitchen 713, chefs Ross Coleman and James Haywood have teamed up again to launch Lit Chicken, a new restaurant at Finn Hall. The duo known for global soul food opened Lit Chicken to serve up fried chicken and their fixings, dishes that are steeped in Southern food tradition with influences from West Africa and beyond.
Papalo strives to provide authentic Mexican cuisine, sourcing many of its ingredients from areas across Mexico. Papalo Taqueria was conceived by Stephanie Velazquez and Nicolas Vera, both of whose resumes include working with Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality group and Hugo Ortega’s Xochi. You can feast on tacos like the vegetarian Zanahoria made with confit carrots, pepita salsa, mixed greens, queso fresco and pumpkin seeds, tepache chicken thighs marinated in pineapple vinegar and smoked pepper and rice bowls served with black beans and your choice of protein.
Chef and owner Francisco Sierra’s Pizza Zquare grew from his passion for pizza, particularly Roman-style pies. Blending his Texas roots and affinity for Italian food, the Pizza Zquare menu features a variety of quirky pizzas like the loaded baked potato pizza and BBQ pulled pork pizza. Order whole pies, single squares or mix and match up to nine fresh, hand-crafted pizza squares from eight different options on the menu. Plus, ready-made Italian cold cut sandwiches and fresh salads too.
At Pho Binh you can order up a bowl of Pho, that soul-satisfying Vietnamese soup that originated in North Vietnam. Choose from chicken soup made with rice noodles, white and dark meat chicken and a half-boiled egg. Or go the red meat route with options from rare steak to fatty brisket to beef meatballs.
Daniel Ajtai, the former chef at La Grange and Cottonwood, brings modern Korean cooking to Finn Hall with his new restaurant Yong. Cooking with family recipes passed down from his mother you’ll find approachable Korean cuisine like Korean barbecue bowls, double-fried chicken with myriad sauce choices and his family favorite eggrolls dubbed ‘Mom’s Eggrolls,’ stuffed with 12 ingredients.
David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto launched Greenway Coffee with the goal of sourcing coffee from small producers and cultivating relationships throughout the supply chain, from producers to baristas. Now joined by Ecky’s sister, Niken Prabanto, the team — supported by a dedicated staff that is also passionate about the coffee craft — has been able to mold Greenway into an enduring source of high-quality coffee in Houston.
Swallows Nest, perched upstairs at Finn, is serving up fun specialty cocktails like Dad’s Buttermilk Pie, made with whiskey and hard cider, and Gin at the Finn made with gin, bitters and apricot preserves before it’s frothed and finished with an egg white. You’ll also find wine on tap and draft beers.
Finn Hall’s definitely grown up.
Located at 712 Main Street (at the intersection with Rusk), Finn Hall is open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner from 7:30 am to 8 pm Mondays through Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 8 pm.