To Market, To Market
To Sample a City
THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2019 -- When you're in a town on business there isn't always time to capture the soul of a city's food culture. That's where food halls come in handy.

If done right, even a totally fabricated and cynically marketed food hall can provide a visitor with a pretty decent idea of what the city is all about.

Here are notable markets in nearly a dozen hub cities that we think are worth breezing through for a fast meal, a sit-down dinner, for entertaining a client or just a quick cultural reconnoiter.

In the city's Old Fourth Ward, Ponce City Market used to be a distribution center for Sears, Roebuck & Company. In other words, it's big and sprawling and packed with most every type of food you can imagine. There are about three dozen different spots in all. At Marrakesh, you can get a plate of three Moroccan Meat Cigars (beef rolled in fillo dough). At Hop's Chicken, we're talking killer fried chicken and biscuits. Botiwalla fancies itself an "Indian street grill."

Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Market are the obvious must-go spots in Boston, but the nonprofit Boston Public Market is also worth a visit. It's a combination farmer's market and food hall and hosts around three dozen vendors, from cheesemongers to fresh pasta makers. There is even a gelato shop. On the dining front, you can get your deli craving satisfied at the Beantown Pastrami Co. Asian your thing? Bon Me and Noodle Lab have you covered. On the bakery front, try The Popover Lady and Union Square Donuts.

Opened in 2016, Revival is a 24,000-square-foot food hall that houses only local Chicago restaurant operators. Centrally located in the Loop, on the ground floor of the historic National office building, this is primarily a place to grab lunch or a snack. Smoque BBQ is where to score a brisket or pulled pork sandwich. Nashville hot fried chicken is the specialty of Budlong. And, of course, you can get deep dish (or even Tavern-style thin crust) pizza at My Pi.

Part of a "lifestyle hotel" that goes by the same name, The Source is a 45,000-square-foot market with 25 vendors in all. We're talking super-hip, industrial-type architecture crawling with the Mile High City "in" crowd. Example: Crooked Stave, an artisanal beer maker, calls its brewmaster a Brettanomyces Guru (whatever that is). For "modern Israeli" cuisine, try Safta. For smoked meats of all kinds there's Smōk. In good weather, head to the rooftop where a restaurant called The Woods offers a menu with everything from charcuterie to steaks to burgers.

The Conservatory is underground--as in, nice and cool temperature-wise. Opened in 2016, the beer garden features 60 tap beers, many of them local, as well as cider, mead and whiskey. If wine is more your speed there's an extensive list at the Noble Rot Wine Bar. As for food, there's plenty. The vendors are a rotating lot of local operators, so the stalls change with some regularity.

As Los Angeles goes, the downtown Grand Central Market on Broadway is positively historic, having been around since 1917. Today it hosts more than three dozen vendors in all. The egg sandwiches at Eggslut are for all-day dining, not just breakfast. Wexler's Deli is where to get house-smoked lox and sturgeon. Knead & Co is the place for freshly made pasta dishes. Prawn is where California chef Mark Peel steams all manner of seafood. And makes its own nut butters. It then concocts sandwiches such as the Indian, made of curried cashew butter, spicy mango chutney, arugula and sliced daikon radish. That's so LA, right?

Time Out magazine launched branded markets five years ago in Lisbon. The second one, Time Out Market Miami, opened last month. It encompasses an entire city block in South Beach and features 21 places to grab a bite to eat or a drink. Topping the list is Stubborn Steed from Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford. Its tasting menu changes daily. Pho Mo--you heard right--bills itself as Viet-Cajun because, of course it does. Love Life Cafe goes heavy on the vegetables and good karma. Coyo Taco serves up, well, y'know ... By the way, a Time Out Market opened in Brooklyn two weeks ago and new branches are slated for Boston and Montreal later this year.

There's a reason Reading Market has been around for more than 125 years: It's the place to immerse yourself in Philadelphia's rich food culture. There are dozens of places to eat: Do not miss DiNic's famous roast pork sandwich or the fried chicken livers with bacon and onions at the Down Home Market. Then there are the bakeries and butcher shops, fishmongers and produce vendors. If you want to get a good feel for Philadelphia make sure to put aside some time for a visit. It won't even be difficult since the Market is in the heart of Philadelphia's commercial center and next to the convention center.

Located in a former Nabisco bakery complex, Chelsea Market is a one-block-long, one-block-wide food hall located on the edge of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. There are nearly 60 shops in the heavily trafficked space, the vast majority offering food and beverages. Grab a house-made hot dog at Dicksons Farmstand Meats; chicken and waffles at Friedman's; tacos at Los Mariscos; or tingly and spicy cumin lamb noodles at Very Fresh Noodles.

Nobody--and we mean nobody--lands in Seattle without hitting the iconic Pike Place Market, open since 1907. The much smaller--and much hipper--Melrose Market in the Capitol Hill district has only been around since 2010, but the converted historic structure is a fine mix of food and retail vendors. Marseille is an on-trend natural wine bar. You'll find super sandwiches (including for breakfast) at Homegrown. And, naturally, there's a place for your oyster fix: Taylor Shellfish Farms.

Union Market is the District's biggest, best-loved food hall and it's a must when you're in town. There are dozens of places to sample pretty much any kind of food you can imagine. At the Israeli street food vendor Basta by Shouk you can grab an eggplant burger with a side of cashew labneh. TaKorean bills itself as a "Korean taco grill." (Think kimchi in a soft corn tortilla.) Got a yen for French wines, cheese and charcuterie? La Jambe will fix you right up. Union Market's selections are vast and definitely worth a stop between chatting up a Congressperson or lobbying a government agency.