Hey—This Food Hall Is Just A Food Court With Fancy Lights!
I should’ve known something was up when I saw the full-page ad in my local alternative newspaper for the “grand opening” of a new “international food hall experience.” Trendy food halls aren’t usually in dying suburban malls, but I bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. Now, here I am, in a food court with high aspirations, watching all the foodies describe the pizza at Sbarro as a “revelation.”
It’s Artisanal, Handmade Bullshit
Food halls, real ones, usually feature small boutique stalls manned by passionate, local up-and-coming chefs trying to make a name for themselves with their bold visions for the future of cuisine. There’s a Burger King here. It’s operated by teenagers and managed by a guy who was running an Office Depot three months ago. The most daring dish they serve is whatever’s contaminated with E. coli that day.
Guys, That Is Just A Cinnabon
All these foodie sheep are gladly paying an arm and a leg for pastries at a booth enigmatically named Cinna, which is just a Cinnabon whose menu has been marked up several hundred percent. That’s the only difference, because if it’s way more expensive than it should be, these pretentious doorknobs just assume it’s fancy. Why pay $9 for a paper plate of food that’s been under a hot lamp for four hours when you can pay $33 for the exact same thing but with some pink salt on top?
I’m Pretty Sure There’s A Communal Rice Pot In The Back
The hallmark of any food hall is the diversity of ethnic cuisine. Texas smoked brisket is next to pho which is next to pasta. But here, somehow, the Cajun place, Japanese place, and Chinese place all serve the same chicken stir-fry. The sugary glaze on each makes it feel like I’m trying to chew through a savory Tootsie Pop with a dry chicken center. When I eat chicken from a real food hall, I don’t usually compare its texture to a geode, but I do in food courts because this is a goddamn food court if I’ve ever seen one.
The owners of this mall might have fooled all these dopey, trendy folks with a few aesthetic changes and a rebranding, but they didn’t fool me. There aren’t enough fairy lights and mason jars in the world to disguise that Johnny Rockets.
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