Food-hall heaven: A surprise reason to explore the O.C.
Orange County hasn’t traditionally been a destination for L.A.-based gourmands, said Jenn Harris in the Los Angeles Times. But the food-hall scene in that vast swath of suburbia is “taking off like nowhere else in California,” and the delicious plates and bites on offer should inspire more Angelenos to brave regular excursions down the freeway.
The OC MixCosta Mesa. You could spend an entire day roaming around this popular destination, a hybrid of food hall and interior design center. After a brewed-to-order coffee at Portola, grab an Instagram-worthy grilled cheese at Shuck Oyster Bar or try a smoked sturgeon taco or posole with abalone at chef Carlos Salgado’s Taco Maria, one of the best restaurants in Southern California. 3313 Hyland Ave., (949) 375-0749
Union MarketMission Viejo. No place needs a food hall more than a community that’s little but suburban tract homes, which is why this one became an instant family hangout. Created by the husband-wife team who started the Union Market in nearby Tustin, it offers a build-your-own-poke bowl restaurant; the Milk Box, serving gourmet boba tea; and a standout hummus joint whose Hamshuka bowl, with spicy shakshuka sauce, is “both hearty and beautiful.”27741 Crown Valley Parkway
4th Street MarketSanta Ana. Besides offering an array of food stalls, this 18-month-old market also incubates culinary talent by renting out small kitchen spaces to chefs who are just getting started. At Sit Low Pho, the pho French dip banh mi sandwich is like “a big, comforting bowl of brisket pho you can eat with your hands.” The market’s bar, Recess, serves wine, craft beers on tap, and house-made sodas too. 201 E. 4th St., (714) 486-0700