The world’s greatest food halls are much more than simple food courts; these gastronomic temples combine dining stalls and high-end grocery offerings—including regional and imported delicacies—for a completely immersive experience. From carefully stacked towers of jewel-toned jams, to elegantly displayed pastries and luxe goods shipped from every corner of the globe, the products evoke a level of culinary splendor that you can’t find at whole foods. A trip to one of these epicurean wonderlands is a food lover’s fantasy.
Here are 10 of destination-worthy food halls around the world.
Harrods Food Hall
Location: Knightsbridge, London
If you love food, this massive hall is a place where you can get lost for hours. Originally founded in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod as a single room selling groceries (as well as perfumes and stationary items), the store’s luxurious food court is now its crown jewel—and if you want samples, all you have to do is ask. For tea lovers, there’s an entire Ladurée-sanctioned room dedicated to nothing but tea. There’s another room dedicated to seafood and caviar. Did we mention the 350 varieties of cheeses on sale, or the Champagne Bar? Maybe this is what heaven will be like. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Great Food Hall at Pacific Place
Location: Queensway, Hong Kong
This HK food hall lives up to its name—especially if you’re a lover of fromage. Great Food Hall is so serious about cheese, there’s a dedicated walk-in cheese room in addition to a normal cheese counter. There’s also plenty of live seafood, high-end meats, and imported specialties for expats from all over who are looking for a taste of home. For an in-store eating experience you won’t have anywhere else, try Estudio Ibérico for real-deal tapas. Be on the lookout for occasional specialty foods classes offered here, such as in-depth tea classes.
Isetan Food Hall
Location: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
If you want extremely fresh sushi and beautifully prepared Japanese pastries, look no further than the food hall in Isetan Shinjuku’s basement. Isetan has several locations across Asia, but the Shinjuku flagship is arguably the best, and it has the expansive food hall to prove it. How seriously does Isetan Shinjuku take produce? When in season, there’s an entire counter dedicated to persimmons, with someone to help you choose perfectly ripe ones to take home. If you love chocolate, Isetan Shinjuku is home to the one and only Tokyo outpost of renowned French chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin. Prefer fine caramels to chocolates? Henri Le Roux is also in residence. Finally, if you want to know why Japan has some of the finest pâtissiers outside of France, be sure to indulge at Sadaharu Aoki. (Photo: Flickr/Istolethetv)
Takashimaya Food Village
Located in a Japanese department store, Takashimaya Food Village delivers much more than Japanese cuisine. There’s a mishmash of stalls selling everything from bibimbap to ice cream, cream puffs, padang, and dorayaki filled with durian. It’s also home to the one and only Ladurée outpost in Singapore for all your macaron needs, as well as the one and only PAUL bakery in Singapore for every other pastry you could want. Before you fill up on sweets, indulge in a steaming bowl of Singaporean laksa noodles. (Photo: Singapore Kids 365)
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This is probably the newest food hall on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. The Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world, and prides itself on importing nothing but the best, most upscale porducts for shoppers and diners—that’s why French celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli was recruited to launch a branch of Lafayette Gourmet. For incomparable French pastries, visit Dalloyau. Of course, there’s plenty of oysters, foie gras, and caviar for all those UAE oil tycoons, and Lafayette Gourmet claims that approximately 80% of the food offerings here are exclusive items. If you observe Ramadan and are looking for a great iftar buffet, Lafayette has you covered. If you’re throwing a dinner party at home and want to hire a chef to make everything to your specifications, LG can arrange it. We’re pretty sure that these are just some of the reasons that LG just won the BBC Good Food Middle East award for Best Specialty Food/Restaurant in Dubai.
Siam Paragon Food Hall
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
The 8,000-square-meter Siam Paragon Food Hall is divided into three sections to make it slightly less daunting to navigate: the Food Court, the Food Hall Gallery, and the Take Home area. From various regional specialties representing the different parts of Thailand, to international cuisine, you can have a taste of everything as long as you have room for it all. Café Chilli specializes in Isaan (Northern Thai) cuisine, while the Four Seasons serves its world-famous roasted duck in its only location outside London. Caveat emptor: Lines at the Four Seasons are often completely insane due to the popularity of their roasted duck, and they don’t take reservations. Don’t even think about skipping the succulent, crispy skin once you make it inside, either.
Gourmet 494 Galleria
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Located inside the Galleria Department Store, Gourmet 494 markets itself as a “Grocerant”—a portmanteau of “grocery” and “restaurant.” Sure, the food hall carries high-end groceries, but the people behind Gourmet 494 Galleria also hand-picked the hottest restaurants, cafes, and bakeries in Seoul and made a space for them to come together and open concession stands in one location. Head to Vatos for fusion Korean/Mexican fare (think kimchi fries and galbi tacos), then everywhere else for traditional Korean dishes like kimbap, tteokbokgi, neng-myun, and sundubu. (Photo: Hanwha Galleria)
La Grande Epicerie de Paris
Location: Paris, FRANCE
La Grande Epicerie stems from the very first food counter to ever open inside a department store, back in 1923. That’s fitting, since it’s located inside the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché. La Grande Epicerie opened in 1978 and has been serving up the quintessential Parisian gastronomical experience ever since. You’ll also find international products at the food hall, including smoked sprats, a small Baltic fish from Latvia, tangerine peel from Japan, and, in the U.S. section, Marshmallow Fluff. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Location: Piazza Duomo, 20121, Milan, Italy
This upscale and distinctly Italian food hall was the first of its kind to open in Milan. There’s a beautiful view of the Duomo di Milano to take in while you eat, almost like you’re sitting right on its roof—something no other food hall in the world can offer. The chocolate counter is a must-visit, as are the Obicà Mozzarella Bar and the Moët & Chandon Champagne Bar. When you order drinks, be aware that they come with appetizers, so make sure you have room. (Photo: La Rinascente)
KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens)
Some lesser food halls span only one floor of the big upscale department stores in which they’re located. KaDeWe’s food hall does better, taking up around 23,000 square feet of space on floors 6 and 7 of the massive department store. KaDeWe is well known for featuring sausages from every region of Germany. There’s also a buffet on the 7th floor featuring various delicacies, but it’s slightly different in that it’s not fixed price—you only pay for what you take. High-end offerings like an oyster bar and a champagne bar sit on the 6th floor. From currywurst to veal schnitzel, and specialty pastries to an entire room devoted to chocolate truffles, the offerings are vast. Some visitors claim that KaDeWe might even outclass Harrods, but that’s definitely a matter of opinion.