In a city with as many amazing restaurants as Chicago, it can be a challenge to sample all the food that you want on a short trip. Enter food halls! With a bunch of restaurants all housed under one roof, this culinary innovation is the perfect way to experience a lot of different chefs + cuisines at once. The ease, convenience, and flexibility of food halls has been the next progression of new culinary traditions in the US, similar to the rise of the food truck.
Food halls have been on the rise in cities all throughout the US, such as Kansas City or Milwaukee. Chicago is no exception! Food halls have been cropping up around Chicago for a few years now, and you can find them throughout the downtown area. Ideal for city break vacations in Chicago or quick lunches on the run, food halls are simultaneously convenient and delicious!
A Local Foodie's Complete Guide to Chicago's Best Food Halls!
As the first dedicated food hall to open in Chicago, Revival has earned its reputation as a hip and trendy spot for a weekday lunch in the Loop. The food hall prides itself on offering “all local dining” with 15 fast-casual stalls featuring many of Chicago’s favorite neighborhood restaurants. A few restaurant stalls to highlight include the Art of Dosa, Aloha Poke, and Smoque BBQ. If you just need a drink, swing by the Revival Café-Bar for coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evening. Don’t leave before snapping a picture of the Instagrammable industrial-chic ceiling, clad with hundreds of oversized glass bulb fixtures.
Located on level five of the 900 North Michigan Shopping center, Aster Hall is an elegant and minimalist food hall in the heart of the Mag Mile. Aster Hall has a stylish art deco vibe with posh velvet chairs, and brass room divider panels. It even brings the fancy vibe to ordering with digital self-service kiosks! This food hall is the brainchild of Brendan Sodikoff, the guy behind Chicago culinary institutions Au Cheval and Bavette’s. There are 16 different stalls or vaults as they call it, including (unsurprisingly) Small Cheval burgers, The Rotisserie Waffle Fries and Chicken’s crunchy fried chicken sandwich, or DIY salads from Three Greens market.
The sprawling two floors of Eataly’s massive Italian marketplace draws tourists and locals alike to sample some of the best Italian ingredients around. Eataly is a little bit different from the other Chicago Food Halls on this list, because it feels more like a grocery store or farmer’s market. You’ll find specialty cheeses and deli meats imported straight from Italy, as well as a robust wine and olive oil selection. There are a number of restaurants and food stalls inside which is why you find it one this Chicago food hall list. La Pizza & La Pasta is Eataly’s sit-down concept serving Neapolitan pizzas and creamy cacio e pepe, while Ravioli & Co is the fast casual pasta experience on the first floor, which features a number of handmade raviolis and filled pastas. Don’t forget to stop by the Gelato Bar on the way out of Eataly for some homemade frozen delights. You can even sign up to take cooking classes! You could easily spend half a day wandering this Italian mecca, but an hour or two is probably sufficient to sample and snack.
I visited the original Time Out Market in Lisbon during my honeymoon in 2016, and absolutely loved it. Now I try to make an effort to visit a Time Out Market if the city I’m visiting happens to have one, because these food halls are always a great experience. The industrial chic style, jet black stalls, and open concept vibes just feel cool and you know the food options will be great. The Time Out Market in Chicago was equally as memorable!
There are well known Chicago restaurant names in the market, such as Urban Belly and Mini Mott, as well as a number of lesser known outlets, like the creative Polombia (Colombian and Polish fusion food) or Bad Bach (a single origin chocolate purveyor). Don’t sleep on the bar here either – their cocktail selection is especially noteworthy and changes seasonally. Upstairs at the market, you’ll find a test kitchen which offers special events and occasional cooking classes. On the roof, there is a cozy all-season bar with vintage vibes and comfortable seating. Of all the Chicago food halls to visit, I think this is probably the best one and should be at the top of any foodie’s must-visit list in Chicago.
Conveniently located around the corner from the bustling Randolph Street Restaurant Row, Politan Row is a chef-driven food hall that has all the swank and style you’d expect in West Loop. There are 10 different restaurant options inside this Chicago food hall, as well as a coffee shop, cocktail bar, and beer garden. I personally really like that Politan Row has an outdoor patio space, a rarity among the Chicago food hall scene. Whether you’re in the mood for Korean bibimbap, Cuban sandwiches, or al pastor tacos, Politan Row has all your cravings under one roof.
If you are visiting Chicago’s theater district, Urbanspace’s Downtown location is the ideal place to grab food before or after the show. It is fast, delicious and there is something for everyone! The stylish modern interior doesn’t look anything like its former tenant –Woolworth’s — but it does bring new life to this historic location! With vegan food, Maine lobsters and Filipino food, this Chicago food hall has 12,000 square feet of culinary and drink space perfect for lunch or dinner. It’s a really creative selection too! The sleek Peregrine Club bar at the front of Urbanspace is run by the same hospitality group as some of Chicago’s most popular cocktail bars. As could be expected, the seasonal bar menu is focused on cocktails, typically riffs on classic favorites.
Housed in the ground floor of the Willis Tower, one of Chicago’s top tourist attractions, Urbanspace Food Hall feels like the corporate attempt at a food hall. That isn’t to disparage this food hall. It just means that it doesn’t have the same unique options as some of the other Chicago food halls on this list. The brands inside the market are recognizable Chicago mainstays, such as DoRite Donuts, Shake Shack, and a Rick Bayless Mexican outpost Tortazo. The glass roofed main dining area gives an excellent view upwards at the tower! If it is your first time to Chicago and you’re already in the neighborhood, this is a convenient option for sampling some of Chicago’s most famous eateries. If you’re a local looking for something new, this might not be quite the right option.
Located inside the Ogilvie Train Station, the Chicago French Market is an easy place to stop in if you’re arriving downtown via a Metra train. The hall isn’t as spacious as some of the other ones on this list (it’s under a train station after all!) but it makes up for that in unique offerings. I think the Chicago French Market has some of the most diverse options of all the Chicago food halls. From Ethiopian to Cuban to Korean to Cajun, there really is something for everyone here. This place is especially popular with the downtown working crowd, so it gets pretty busy during the lunch rush. Avoid peak hours for a better experience inside the market. Seating is limited, so you may want to get food to go here.