A guide to San Diego’s food halls

Liberty Public Market in San Diego

Liberty Public Market at Liberty Station features around 30 vendors. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Table of Contents

From San Diego’s South Bay to our North County, food halls have really carved out a space for themselves in our local food scene over the last five years. Let’s take a look at these hubs of grub, in all their glory — and, of course, some must-try items.

📍 Liberty Public Market

  • Established: 2016
  • Address: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd., Ste. 140
  • Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

What to know: Located in the heart of Liberty Station and featuring nearly 30 vendors, many credit LPM for pioneering the food hall trend in San Diego. The marketplace (which gives us a Pike Place Market vibe — hi, SEAtoday) is in one of the historic buildings once part of San Diego’s Naval Training Center, so one of its bars is dubbed the “Mess Hall.

We go here a lot and let our noses guide us. Usually, we end up at Paraná for the savory Argentinian empanadas, with a craft beer in hand from Bottlecraft, followed by something sweet from Olala Crepes. Pro tip: the patio here is ample + dog friendly and a great place to relax with your food. Sometimes, there’s live music.

Empanadas

We’ll take one of each, please + thanks. The empanadas + chimichurri at Paraná are so good. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

📍 Little Italy Food Hall

  • Established: 2018
  • Address: 550 W. Date St., Ste. B
  • Hours: Daily, hours vary

What to know: Home to eight food stations, this spot was once named among USA Today’s “10 Best” in the U.S. The anchor eatery here is Graze by Sam, the first-ever restaurant from local chef + YouTube superstar Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien. The LIFH also features Zien’s other ventures, Not Not Tacos + Samburgers. We like to start with a charcuterie board at Graze or the potstickers from Mein St. Asian Kitchen. Save room for gelato from Bobboi.

Pro tip: check the LIFH’s calendar often because Sam The Cooking Guy likes to host live, pop-up cooking demos in the outdoor chefs’ area. Last month, he tinkered with ways to use leftover Thanksgiving stuffing.

Little Italy Food Hall in San Diego

Inside the Little Italy Food Hall; there’s also plenty of patio seating. | Photo via Diana Rose Photography

Sam the Cooking Guy

SDtoday City Editor Monica Garske with Sam The Cooking Guy (oh, and the other guy, her husband), at Graze by Sam. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday.

📍 Windmill Food Hall

  • Established: 2019
  • Address: 890 Palomar Rd. (the landmark building with the giant Windmill, can’t miss it)
  • Hours: Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. + Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

What to know: Located in Carlsbad in San Diego’s North County, the Windmill Food Hall features about a dozen vendors. Find us flying to Cross Street Chicken + Beer for the Classic As Cluck sandwich or crispy tenders. Secret Sauce Wok + Grill gets its Mongolian Beef right — and the lunch prices, hovering around $10, are spot-on.

Pro tip: the patio is a great spot to enjoy a meal with active little ones — there’s a lot of space to run around.

Windmill Food Hall Carlsbad

The old Windmill building in Carlsbad now churns with good food. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Inside the Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad

nside the Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

📍 Sky Deck at Del Mar Highlands

  • Established: June 2021
  • Address: 12841 El Camino Real (above Jimbo’s market)
  • Hours: vary by vendor

What to know: This two-level culinary collective at Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley houses 13 concepts — from Italian and French cuisines, to Thai, Japanese, Mexican + more. We love the variety here, and typically find ourselves on the Brewers Deck first, enjoying a pint while plotting our global food journey.

Sky Deck at Del Mar Highlands Town Center

Sky Deck at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. | Photo via Del Mar Highlands Town Center

📍 Market on 8th

  • Established: October 2021
  • Address: 41 E. 8th St. in National City
  • Hours: Sun.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. + Thurs.-Sat., 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

What to know: This spot features a dozen vendors — with more on the way. The Asian culinary influence is strong here, with head-turners like Ping Yang for Thai treats. There’s also Weapon ramen, a spot from National City native Chef Phillip Esteban — recently named Eater San Diego’s “Changemaker of the Year.”

Pro tip: Don’t miss a pint from Novo Brazil Brewing Co., one of the South Bay’s most beloved craft breweries (the hazy varieties, especially).

Novo Brazil Brewing

Novo Brazil’s latest location is at Market on 8th in National City. | Photo via Novo Brazil Brewing Co.

📍Tremont Collective

  • Established: November 2021
  • Address: 602 S. Tremont St., Oceanside
  • Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Wednesday + 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday and Friday

What to know: This hub for both shopping and dining features food and drinks from local brands like Bottlecraft, Communal Coffee, and Shootz Fish & Beer. Also, don’t miss a visit to Al Fresko — a truly graze-ful charcuterie specialty shop.

Old Town Urban Market

Old Town Urban Market is a collective of Latin-inspired businesses on Congress Street in Old Town San Diego. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

📍Old Town Urban Market

  • Established: December 2021
  • Address: 2458 Congress St. in Old Town San Diego
  • Hours: Daily, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

What to know: The addition to San Diego’s food hall scene is the Old Town Urban Market, which has soft-opened this month and is still taking shape. Helmed by Chef Priscilla Curiel’s Michelin-honored Tuetano Taquería (which relocated here from San Ysidro), this space features other Latin-inspired vendors including Por Vida with its specialty coffee, elote + fresh salsa.

Barrio Donas with its delectable donuts is set to join the market soon, too.

Pro tip: Go for the bone marrow birria tacos at Tuetano — you know, the ones that have made headlines over the years for being the first of their kind. The beef birria is unreal, too.

Old Town Urban Market

The birria tacos from Tuetano Taqueria always hit just right. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

📍Mission + Garnet

  • Established: Coming in early 2023
  • Address: The corner of Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
  • Hours: TBD

What to know: This 4,000-sqft collective at the former site of the PB Denny’s features six takeout eateries offering everything from tacos and salads, to churros and breakfast burritos. Tenants include Spitfire, Head Lettuce, Checkered Churros, Harvey Carvers, Earlybird Breakfast Burritos, and Scotty Dogs.

More from SDtoday