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Houston’s Ultimate Food Hall Guide — Everything You Need to Know

From Downtown to The Heights to Rice Village, This Foodie Craze is Only Growing

BY // 08.12.19

There’s no denying it. Houston is in the throes of a food hall frenzy. The obsession may be slow-burning — Conservatory, the Bayou City’s foray into centrally organized food stalls, opened three years ago and its follower, Finn Hall, just opened last year — but it’s in full swing.

As of right now, four ambitious food halls are either fully open or in the midst of soft openings and grand openings. And the concept is far from slowing down, with that even more than that on the way.

Downtown Houston took off as the epicenter for this micro-restaurant phenomenon, but it’s since spread to Rice Village, The Heights and beyond. No matter where you turn, you’ll find a dizzying array of restaurants all under one roof. You no longer have to dread a meal with your picky friend. You know who we mean.

Food halls are ideal for those curious about food, those not satisfied to simply eat the same thing every time. Food halls are road maps to all the cuisines Houston has to offer. You can go again and again and always find something brand new.

You can snack on seafood, chow down on Chinese, bite into a burger and more all within a few thousand square feet.

But with nine whole food halls in the mix, it can be hard to keep track. But don’t worry. We’ve got your (food) hall pass. This is the Ultimate Guide to Houston’s Food Halls:

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Conservatory

1001 Prairie Street

Ah, Conservatory — the O.G., the one that started it all. Long before the food hall craze took Space City by storm, this hip space opened up underground in the heart of Downtown.

Ahead of its time, Conservatory kicked things off back in 2016 — just think how much the Houston food hall scene has evolved since then. Think 60-odd brews on tap, a mixture of stellar local crafts and impressive imports in these boisterous bowels of the city.

The seven vendors at this hidden gem rotate out, always keeping things interesting. You can expect everything from El Burro & The Bull’s barbecue, pizza, crepes and so much more. The ever-popular Moku Bar just closed the first week of August to make way for Bird Haus, a new concept by those very owners.

For now, you can find Treacherous Leches, Conservatory’s first ever dessert shop, and sweets galore.

Hours: 11 am to 12 am

Conservatory was Houston’s first underground food hall and beer garden.

Finn Hall

712 Main Street 

Finn Hall hit the scene in December, adding another eclectic food hall to Downtown.

While Conservatory skews industrial-chic, Finn Hall is an array of funky, unique, bright kiosks — one for each of its 10 restaurants. And it all plays out in the elegant digs of the historic JPMorgan Chase & Co. tower at 712 Main.

The name might be a mouthful, but where else to get a huge mouthful of Chinese, Vietnamese and beyond?

The iconic skyscraper hosts a blend of well-known names — think firecracker-spicy Mala Sichuan and Goode Co. Taqueria, where you always go for a good time — and food trucks setting down permanent roots.

The full list includes Amaya Coffee, Craft Burger, Dish Society, Goode Co. Taqueria, Mala Sichuan, Low Tide, Oddball Eats, Sit Lo and Yong.

You might recognize the owner of the seafood extravaganza that is Low Tide — Alli Jarret of Harold’s in the Heights.

Add to that list two separate bars, St. Jac’s and Swallow’s Nest, and you’ve got a certified hit on your hands. St. Jac’s is the patron saint of craft beers, while Swallow’s Nest is all about artisanal cocktails with Art Deco soul. An all new pizza parlor called Pizza Zquare is set to open up in Finn Hall soon.

Hours: 7 am to 11 pm

finn hall sit lo
Sit Lo is a Finn Hall original.

Bravery Chef Hall

409 Travis Street, ground level of Aris Market Square high-rise

It’s no accident the bold minds behind this spot called it a Chef Hall in lieu of a Food Hall. You could call it next-gen, more elevated than the other Houston food halls, hitting the sweet spot between offering eats to satisfy everyone and executing on par with fine dining restaurants.

A few of the restaurants are already open as Bravery goes through soft opening phases for the next few weeks. The tantalizing chefs posted up at this chef hall have seriously impressive resumes, like sushi haven Kokoro’s Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, who are veterans of none other than Uchi.

And Christine Ha, blind chef and MasterChef  TV food show victor, helms Vietnamese standout The Blind Goat, making egg rolls just like her mama used to do it.

Bravery Chef Hall’s full list of restaurants includes BOH Pasta, Cherry Block Butcher + Kitchen, Kokoro, The Blind Goat, Atlas Diner, Lockwood STN, Bravery Wine Bar and Secret Garden Coffee & Cocktails — the last nestled into a custom glass greenhouse.

Hours: 11 am to 3 pm; 5 pm to 10 pm

Understory

800 Capitol Street, Bank of America Tower

Understory gets major kudos not just for bringing serious eats to the hard workers of Downtown, but also for its clever location. Renowned architect Michael Hsu has transformed the Downtown tunnel system with this spectacular new food hall — which is currently in its grand opening week.

The Great Steps is at the center of this mecca of gathering spaces, an atrium-style space flooded with natural light and wide open spaces thanks to soaring 40-foot ceilings. It’s the perfect place for a workday lunch, where you can forget for a blissful hour that you, in fact, have to go back to work.

So far, six restaurants have been revealed. Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas is a tasty, casual spin-off of The Original Ninfa’s and Mona offers the freshest Italian food.

You’re sure to remember the others: Smash hits such as Seaside Poke, Flip N Patties, East Hampton Sandwich Co. and Boomtown Coffee to get you that caffeine fix.

And get this — Common Bond’s opening there too, with a banner that just went up this week.

Hours: 7 am to 10 pm

Lyric Market

411 Smith Street

Houston’s underrated Theater District landed its own food hall with Lyric Market, slated to kick things off late this year.

Lyric Market is already making a name for itself with its restaurant picks. While the rest of the Houston food halls are largely hyper-local, looking to  restaurants and ideas dreamed up by Bayou City chefs, Lyric Market brings 70 percent of its vendors hailing from hither and yon.

Another twist? While the other Houston food halls were converted into communal eating spaces in existing buildings, Lyric Market will be specifically designed as a food hall. You’ll find a multi-story set-up with terraces for dining with a view.

Lyric Market’s restaurants are under wraps for now, but you can bet on 20 food and bar options from all over. 

Hours: TBD

Railway Heights

8200 Washington Avenue

Later this year, The Heights is getting its own piece of the Houston food hall action. The much-hyped Railway Heights will have tons of interesting twists — a beer garden, a weekend farmers market, container farm, wine bar and shopping on shopping.

But, as they share, Railway Heights won’t have it all. It’ll have grocers, but definitely not in the vein of toothpaste and shampoo.

It’ll be the kind of place where you can buy in bulk, but this culinary paradise is no Costco. Local purveyors will be offering up their wares, from fruits from farms just a stone’s throw away to fresh Gulf seafood to meat raised at nearby ranches.

Railway Heights is already generating buzz for Let Us, a revolutionary salad bar concept where the leafy greens are grown onsite in containers, alongside a salad buffet and salad vending machine.

Hours: TBD

Politan Row

2445 Times Boulevard

You’ll be falling for Politan Row in Rice Village come October. The New Orleans-born concept is following up the Crescent City’s wildly popular St. Roch Market. Another Politan Row is already open in Chicago, with each market in each city exuding a different feel.

 The plan for Politan Row is a diverse array of a dozen different restaurant options, including 10 chef-driven concepts, a craft cocktail bar called Politan Bar and a coffee shop.

Hours: TBD

Oui Eats at Little White Oaks

2645 North Main Street

The always interesting White Oak Music Hall is getting a snazzy new neighbor, timing TBD.  It’s definitely off the beaten path, sharing a little slice of Houston charm you may not see that often. The project comes from the owners of the legendary Vietnamese sandwich shop Les Givral’s.

So far, four of the six restaurants have been revealed — Oui Eats, Double Trouble, Good Dog Hot Dog and a spot called the Lantern, developed by the masterminds behind Ruggles. Stay tuned.

The Houston food hall scene only seems to be getting started.

Hours: TBD

 

The Grid

U.S. 69 Corridor, Stafford

A jaw-dropping, $500-million mixed use development is taking over Stafford. Construction at the old Texas Instruments campus is behind schedule, but the plans are still major.

The crown jewel of the project — destined for 500,000 square feet of office space, 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, pocket parks, bike trails, movie theater, hotels and health club— will be the farm-to-table style food hall boasting artisanal eats and goods from chefs and local purveyors.

The vendors have yet to be revealed, but you can expect restaurants like Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar and Shake Shack,

Hours: TBD

 

 

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