Can you eat healthy in food halls? Maybe but it takes some searching

Food halls are all the rage these days, especially in urban areas with lots of old buildings to recycle. Circumstances forced me on the road for three weeks recently, so I was able to visit food halls in New York, Minneapolis and Chicago.

Did I find anything healthy to eat? Aside from some salad places and a tasty beet salad in Chicago, generally no. But I did find some great pizza in New York and Minneapolis.

So if you find yourself in a food hall, check all the stalls before buying yourself a meal. Try to minimize how unhealthy you eat that day.

These food halls are generally in repurposed older buildings, feature local outlets rather than national chains (McDonald’s need not apply), sport a variety of ethnic offerings like Mexican, Asian and Indian dishes, and throw in some traditional American unhealthy options like giant burgers and barbecue.

The Brooklyn food hall I visited is a bit off the beaten track for tourists. But since I grew up in Brooklyn, I usually go back to that borough when I’m in NYC. The hall I visited is in a complex of old warehouses on the waterfront now known as Industry City (it was formerly known as the Bush Army Terminal).

The pizza I had there was made in a coal-fired oven, a real throwback to my childhood when many bakeries used either coal or wood to bake. The place is called Table 87 and has two other Brooklyn locations. Real New Yorkers don’t muck up their pizza with a lot of toppings, so neither did I, getting just mozzarella and sauce. The round slice was so good, I tried the square too and it was equally delicious.

Industry City, in addition to its food hall which has a variety of food types, also has an entire building devoted to Japanese cuisine. I was intimidated there, I have to admit, getting a simple noodle dish that didn’t have much flavor because I wasn’t sure what most of the other items there were.

In Minneapolis, my son took me to a place called The Market at Malcolm Yards. Like Industry City, it had the requisite bare brick walls and wooden beams, along with a variety of local food vendors.

Pizza there was from Wrecktangle Pizza which describes its offering as “Detroit in style, Minnesota in interpretation.” Ok, I still enjoyed it. I ordered it with ricotta on top, which I thought would be in big dollops. It was decorated on instead and while not as creamy as I expected was quite good.

We also tried some Korean fried chicken which, if you didn’t dip it in the extremely spicy sauce, was just good old-fashioned fried chicken.

Back in Chicago, I went to a different type of food hall — one on the ground floor of what had been an office building rather than an industrial site. The Revival Food Hall is where I found a healthy salad, at a pizza place called Dimo’s Cafe. It was beets with burrata cheese and basil in a balsamic dressing.

I passed up the pizza at Dimo’s because it was;t Chicago-style and I was in Chicago! There’s too much great local pizza in Chicago to take a chance on a place you don’t love. If I’m wasting calories on foods that will clog my arteries,. I want to love that food, not just experiment with it.


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