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The 8 Food Halls Capitalizing On Houston's Hottest Retail Trend

Houston has seen an explosion of food halls — assortments of chef-driven micro-restaurants that have replaced traditional food courts in new and redeveloped office buildings, or in stand-alone facilities. Since 2016, eight food halls have either opened or announced their launch in Houston, according to research by Avison Young.  

At first, the concentration of food halls took over Downtown Houston. But recently, they have been popping into markets such as The Heights or Rice Village

Dish Society location inside of Finn Hall in Downtown Houston

The embrace of food halls in Houston is connected to the city's food culture, Avison Young principal and Managing Director Rand Stephens wrote in his monthly blog. The Greater Houston area received 11 semifinalist nominations for the prestigious 2019 James Beard Chef and Restaurants Award

"It is no surprise to see the food hall craze take Houston by storm," Stephens wrote. "Just as we saw the food truck rage giving aspiring chefs the opportunity to sell their innovative dishes without the burdensome overhead cost, we are now seeing some of the once-mobile, artisan food vendors put it into 'park' inside commercial and residential buildings and set up shop in food halls." 

Food halls provide chefs with almost guaranteed foot traffic and short-term leases. The amenity is also raising the profile for office and residential buildings by luring more potential tenants and consumers. 

"Landlords, chefs and restaurateurs will eventually find the right balance for their locations, and the market will ultimately stick a fork in it and decide who is done and who will continue to serve it up to Houston," Stephens wrote. 

Check out the eight food halls already open or coming soon in Houston:  


Exterior of Conservatory in Downtown Houston

Location: 1010 Prairie St.
Opening Date: 2016 
Size: 7K SF
Tenants: 7

In 2016, Conservatory was the first food hall to open in Houston. The underground beer garden offers about 60 different draft beers serving a mix of local craft breweries and foreign imports. The curated vendor list includes Arte Pizzeria, El Burro, Moku Bar, Noble Rot Wine Bar, The Pho Spot, Treacherous Leches and Easy Does It.  


Exterior shot of Finn Hall in Downtown Houston

Location: 712 Main St.
Opening Date: December 2018 
Size: 20K SF
Tenants: 12

Located inside The Jones on Main, Finn Hall features 10 chef-driven concepts and two bars inside one centralized location. The diverse, multicultural dining options bring flair from local chefs and brands such as Goode Company Taqueria, a Tex-Mex soul food restaurant; Low Tide, a seafood concept; and Dish Society, a farm-to-table restaurant featuring the brand's condensed menu.


An exterior shot of Aris Market Square

Location: 409 Travis St., Aris Market Square
Opening Date: December 2018 
Size: 9K SF 
Tenants: 5

Bravery Chef Hall is the anchor retail tenant at the new Aris Market Square, a 32-story luxury high-rise in Downtown Houston. The 9K SF space will center around five restaurants created by chef-owners with distinct dining experiences. Like the traditional food hall model, each of the five concepts will be separately owned and sign a lease for space within the hall.

Chefs Felix Florez, owner of Black Hill Ranch, Ben McPherson, the founder of Krisp Bird & Batter, and David Guerrero, the owner of Andes Café, have all signed on at Bravery. Two final spots remain to be filled. 

Lyric Market 

An exterior view of Lyric Market

Location: 411 Smith St.  
Opening Date: Late 2019 
Size: 31K SF
Tenants: 24

Lyric Market, a 31K SF food hall in the Theater District, is taking a different approach to the tenant mix, as 70% of the concepts will be sourced from outside of Houston. Unlike other food halls in Houston, Lyric Market was built around the food hall idea, as opposed to in a space that was retrofitted to add it as an amenity, according to the Houston Business Journal. The hall is adjacent to the 27-story Lyric Center office building. U.S. Property Manager CEO and President Jonathan Enav is the project's developer. 


A interior view of Understory in Capitol Tower in Downtown Houston

Location: 800 Capitol St., Capitol Tower
Opening Date: Mid-2019 
Size: 9K SF
Tenants: 7

Inside Skanska's new Capitol Tower, Understory takes a fresh approach to food halls by connecting to and providing visibility to the hidden, Downtown Houston tunnel system. The hub is now 68% leased with two restaurants and the cocktail bar remaining. Previously announced concepts include East Hampton Sandwich Co., Boomtown Coffee, Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas, MONA Fresh Italian Food and Flip 'n Patties. 


A rendering of the exterior of the Railway Heights Markets

Location: 8200 Washington Ave., The Heights
Opening Date: 2019 
Size: 13K SF 
Tenants: NA

Railway Heights Market won't have something for everyone, according to the company's website. The market will feature a farmers market, container farm, beer garden and other shopping options. While you won't find common household items, customers can pick up bulk goods from local purveyors, fresh seafood from the gulf, locally raised meats, curated cheeses and produce from local, small farms.

The facility will be the first location of Let Us, a salad bar concept where the lettuce grows in containers on-site. It will also host a farmers market every Saturday and Sunday.


A rendering of the Politan Row in Chicago

Location: 2445 Times Blvd., Rice Village 
Opening Date: October 2019 
Size: 7,350 SF 
Tenants: Up to 12 

Politan Row Houston comes from the developers behind St. Roch Market in New Orleans. The brand is launching chef-driven food halls in cities like Chicago and Miami featuring a mix of local food and beverage talent. The focus is to serve people who crave unique flavors and experiences and to allow chefs to showcase their creativity.

The Houston location will be a midcentury gem with 12 concepts in the heart of the West University neighborhood, according to the company's website

OUI EATS at little White Oaks

A rendering of OUI Eats at Little White Oaks

Location: 2645 North Main 
Opening Date: 2019 
Size: 7,200 SF
Tenants: 6 

Situated next to White Oak Music Hall, Oui Eats at Little White Oaks is looking for two more concepts, according to ABC Realty Advisors marketing material. So far, the facility will include Oui Eats, Good Dog Hot Dog, Double Trouble and the Lantern by Ruggles. The property is north of Main Street between North and Boundary streets.