TRADE: Revitalizing an Old Trend for a Modern World

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by Crystal Wong

Living in Orange County and Los Angeles is living an Instagram life, where everything is #aesthetic, #healthy and full of #foodies. Food halls are currently thriving around the two counties with the ever-popular Anaheim Packing House, taking the reins followed by Grand Central Market in Los Angeles. Back in April, Irvine was next to follow the hype train with the opening of its very own open-air food hall, TRADE.

In an era where millennials run the twenty-first century, we are reminded of the time when street vendors ran the food scene. According to CNN, food halls are “a throwback to one-roof shopping from different vendors with a modern emphasis on the locally-sourced and artisanally-crafted.” Especially in a time where experimentation is necessary for success, food halls give emerging eateries a chance to establish their name and business. They also give diners a chance to experiment with more variety while staying under one roof. And in a time where fast and casual is the newest trend when it comes to eating, food halls offer the quality of a quick and easy grab and go. With Orange County and Los Angeles considered an enclave for the impatient young and hip, the trend and appeal of food halls are sweeping the counties.

American chef Anthony Bourdain believes that food halls are the happy medium solutions to finding good quality meals while also exploring more options. In an interview with the magazine Departures, Bourdain noted that “there’s a real appetite for more low-impact, more casual, yet good-quality meal options.” This is true in terms of how food halls can deliver quality meals and a variety of options for a cheaper price.

For example, Irvine’s TRADE features nine eateries all in one location. This is a refuge for all foodies looking to satisfy their taste buds with a variety of savory and fusion foods. There are many options to choose from Megadon that serves Hawaiian and Japanese fusion bowls, Dos Chinos with Latin Asian Grub, all the way to Butterleaf for those seeking vegetarian options. Price ranges are reasonable and entrees cost no more than $25, which is fair since some of the eateries serve delicacies such as pork belly and lobster in their dishes.

Los Angeles’s Grand Central Market has been around since the early 1900s, and celebrated its hundredth anniversary this year. According to its website, The Market has always reflected the changing population of downtown. Some of the early vendors included multiple green grocers, fishmongers, Jewish delis and butchers, as well as stalls for dry goods, baked goods, flowers, coffee and cheese. As Downtown Los Angeles continues to grow and evolve, The Market has been evolving with it.

But this concept doesn’t only apply to Los Angeles; it applies to the food halls in Orange County as well. As the demographics in Orange County change over time, restaurants are also adapting to the change by serving different types of cuisines that cater to everyone regardless of their nationality. Food halls are adapting too, with Asian-themed food halls planning to make their way to the scene. Square Mixx, set to open in 2018, is an Asian marketplace within The Source in Buena Park with a collection of Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Thai restaurants.

As Orange County and Los Angeles continue to lead the pack of food halls, their influence nationwide seems to be spreading. Food halls are not only known for the variety of eateries all found under one roof, but also for their aesthetically pleasing architecture, young and hip ambience and Instagrammable foods the perfect recipe for what a millennial today seems to be in favor of.

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