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5 Virginia food halls you’ll want to visit

At The Block in Annandale, visitors are transported to what feels like a neighborhood block party. The Block in Annandale is housed in a Northern Virginia shopping center that once hosted a mammoth K-Mart. | Photo by Justin Chesney

What’s for dinner? Italian? Mexican? Thai? Or maybe something completely different? Head to one of Virginia’s many food halls, where you can find it all.

These casual dining hubs are sprouting up across the state, and they’ve become destinations in themselves. Food halls are a place to hang out, sample new tastes, and try unfamiliar cuisines. At some, you’ll find top chefs offering new menus. Food truck owners also like food halls because they allow them to move into a brick-and-mortar location without the expense of opening a full restaurant.

Whether you want lunch, dinner, dessert, coffee, or a cocktail or a glass of wine, these halls have it all—including comfy seats for lounging and people watching. Here are 5 of Virginia’s best.

1. Hatch Local

400-414 Hull Street, Richmond

It can be hard to get reservations at top Richmond restaurants like Alewife and Lillie Pearl. But now you can sample their offerings by simply stepping up to a counter in the city’s booming Manchester neighborhood.

Hatch Local

Diners at Richmond’s Hatch Local food hall. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Spanning the ground floors of 2 new office buildings, airy Hatch Local has been a hit since opening in 2021. You’ll find ample seating at blonde wood tables and space at standup counters, but don’t settle down until you’ve checked out all the food choices.

Odyssey Fish, an outpost of Richmond’s award-winning Alewife restaurant, offers surprises like roasted char with sticky rice, kimchi, cucumber, sesame, and nori aioli or roasted pork belly with ramen noodles, roasted eggplant, cucumber, herbs, and chili crunch. Usually, you’d have to snag a reservation at Alewife’s tiny Churchill restaurant to get tastes like these.

Buttermilk and Honey

Buttermilk and Honey’s specialty is a fried chicken sandwich with a honey-laced coating. | Photo by Justin Chesney

A few steps away, Buttermilk and Honey does amazing things with fried chicken. No surprise, as it and adjacent Bully Burger are owned by the couple behind popular Richmond eatery Lillie Pearl.

Choosing is tough, with options like the spicy Dirty Bird sandwich, and chicken tenders layered with French toast bread pudding. But you can’t go wrong with Buttermilk and Honey’s specialty: a sandwich built around a crunchy chicken patty that’s hand-breaded with a honey-laced coating. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

Across the courtyard, the options go global. Sincero offers tacos and other Mexican cuisine, and Royal Pig serves a taste of Cambodia. Its tender chicken skewers served with rice and papaya salad may soon become a city legend.

Food hall hours: Wednesday–Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Coffee Bar Wednesday–Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Beet Box Wednesday–Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

2. The Block

4221 John Marr Drive, Annandale

This is our happy place

A neon sign welcomes visitors to The Block in Annandale. | Photo by Justin Chesney

A dining surprise awaits in a Northern Virginia shopping center once known for its mammoth K-Mart. Step inside The Block and you’re transported to a neighborhood block party where families, teens, and couples snap selfies, slurp noodles, or sip on bubble tea.

The Bold Dumpling

The menu at Bold Dumpling includes (clockwise from top left) pork soup dumplings, teriyaki tofu, dumpling platter, and scallion pancakes. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Start at Bold Dumpling, which lives up to its name. While you have a lot of choices, from teriyaki tofu to scallion pancakes, the dumpling platter is a great choice. You get savory bites of beef, chicken, and kimchi with dipping sauces.

Next door, Balo Kitchen promises Asian comfort food with selections like fried chicken tacos wrapped in Malaysian flatbread and a pork belly rice bowl. Or head to Pokeworks, which offers a half-dozen varieties of the Hawaiian raw fish dish.

While some may want to watch sports and sip mango beer at the bar after a meal, this is a place to save room for dessert.

The Block’s highlight is SnoCream Company, a Taiwanese-style iced sweets shop that specializes in a dessert that’s a cross between shave ice and ice cream. You can build your own combo of flavored ices and mix-ins. Play it safe with cookies and cream or go crazy with the black sesame topped with red beans and drizzled with condensed milk. It’s a delicious choice, tasting like a frozen version of the Middle Eastern candy halvah.

Food hall hours: Vary by restaurant.

3. Dairy Market

946 Grady Avenue, Charlottesville

Xena Kai

Dairy Market in Charlottesville was named the state’s best new tourist attraction. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Nearly 90 years ago, Monticello Dairy set up shop less than a mile from downtown Charlottesville, churning out milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream for the hungry college town residents. The city landmark closed in 1985, but in 2020 the building reopened as Dairy Market with more than a dozen restaurants. As popular with locals and families as with UVA students, it was even named the state’s best new tourist attraction of the year.

Dairy Market's Moo Thru

A blackberry cone from Dairy Market’s Moo Thru. | Photo by Justin Chesney

You’ll find the city’s favorite tastes here, from Citizen Burger Stand with its grass-fed, griddle-smashed patties to Chimm St., a Thai-Vietnamese eatery where the basil stir-fry chicken gets rave reviews. Even Moo Thru, the destination sweet shop from Fauquier County, has set up shop here. Although there’s often a line, it moves quickly. Rest assured: A scoop of blackberry is worth the wait.

Angelic's Kitchen

Fried whiting fish filets from Angelic’s Kitchen. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Just as exciting are the new additions. Angelic’s Kitchen serves up soulful specialties like fried whiting fish filets. Manila Street offers hearty Filipino dishes like chicken curry and rice noodles. And for a sit-down meal, South and Central Latin Grill offers a chic take on a Latin/South American steak house: Be sure to order Provoleta, the grilled provolone cheese appetizer.

And for sitting back and people watching, head to The Milkman’s Bar, an adult version of a classic drugstore soda fountain serving sweet, creamy cocktails.

Food hall hours: Sunday–Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to
10 p.m.

4. EpiQ Food Hall

14067 Noblewood Plaza, Woodbridge

EpiQ Food Hall

Woodbridge’s EpiQ Food Hall offers global fare in the middle of a strip mall. | Photo by Larry Bleiberg

A few miles off Interstate 95 in Woodbridge, EpiQ Food Hall offers a world of surprises in the center of a strip mall. Step inside and you’re greeted by a global buffet of Japanese, Mexican, and Southern cuisine. Even on a weekday afternoon, it buzzes with folks sitting on leather couches or at the bar, which has a dozen beers
on tap.

The food is impressive: Little Miner Taco, which started as a D.C. food truck, serves south-of-the-border bites like birria tacos: tortillas overflowing with beef, onion, cilantro, salsa, and jack cheese served with a cup of consommé for dipping.

Don’t be fooled by the barbecue ribs, crab cakes, and steak on the menu at NuVegan Café: Everything here is plant-based. Its most popular dish, the chick’n drummies, are crispy pieces of fried soy protein that taste like fried chicken.

Of course, you could head the other direction at Southern Flare, with its menu of fried green tomatoes, steak and cheese egg rolls, or shrimp and grits.

5. Quarter Market at Ballston Quarter

4238 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington

The basement of an Arlington shopping mall is an unlikely place to find culinary excellence, but this dining spot delivers.


The wood-burning pizza oven at Turu’s in Quarter Market. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Top D.C. restaurants have set up satellite operations at Quarter Market, from Roll’d—run by Michelin-starred sushi chef Nobu Yamazaki—to Turu’s by food-truck-turned-restaurant Timber Pizza Company, which fires up a wood-burning pizza oven in the middle of the hall. The Bentley, a surprising mixture of provolone and mozzarella, cured chorizo, pepperoni, and Peruvian sweet peppers, all drizzled with a honey hot sauce, will be gone in a flash.

There’s also Hot Lola’s, run by James Beard Award nominee Kevin Tien, which serves hot chicken that combines Sichuan and Nashville flavors: the signature chicken sandwich is topped with tangy, creamy Mississippi comeback sauce (with 6 levels of heat to choose from). And at Bollywood Bistro Express, you’ll find familiar Indian dishes and new ones like Lamb Malabari, served with a coconut curry sauce.


Maizal at Quarter Market serves a range of South American street food. | Photo by Justin Chesney

Some of the best eats come from Maizal, which serves a range of South American street food. Build your own burritos, tacos, and bowls with fillings like mini shrimp cakes, steak, grilled pork, and spicy green sauce. For a small burst of savory flavor, order an arepa. The Vegetariana—with quinoa bites, black beans, plantains, grilled vegetables, street corn, and pickled beets—hits all the highlights.

Finish your visit at Ice Cream Jubilee, which Food & Wine magazine called one of the country’s best ice cream spots. It offers unexpected flavors that will become your new favorites, like Thai iced tea or apple-butter oatmeal cookie.

Food hall hours: Vary by restaurant.

Charlottesville-based writer Larry Bleiberg is immediate past president of the Society of American Travel Writers. He loves food halls because he can order 2 desserts without anyone noticing.

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