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Fantastic Food Halls

Find options to satisfy all cravings in the Northwest’s food halls and markets

By Nancy Mueller

Food halls and markets offer inspired, innovative alternatives beyond standard buffet menus and catered dishes in lively settings, and introduce a region’s diverse foods, popular purveyors, and culinary practices all in one place. Event attendees can also select fare that meets dietary needs while discovering nearby attractions. Fortunately, the Northwest’s bounty of food halls and markets presents many fun culinary explorations to consider for your gathering.

Interior of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington
Interior of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington || Courtesy of Pike Place Market PDA

Gem State Grub
For the College of Southern Idaho Foundation’s annual Welcome Back Bash, Assistant Director Karrie Van Noy brought her team to Twin Falls’ historic 2nd South Market. “Everyone loved the event—the food, the ambience, and the location,” she says. The venue offers flexible indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, including 13,000 square feet of combined meeting space for up to 200 attendees. The spaces include a small meeting room inside coffee shop Full Steam Espresso with room for 10 to 12 attendees; and The Yard, a 14,700-square-foot outdoor space with room for up to 400 and available May through October. In The Yard, attendees can hang out at fire pits, play cornhole and card games, engage in paint classes, and listen to live music. Van Noy loves 2nd South Market because “there is truly something for all tastes,” she says, noting that every single vendor had a standout dish or drink.

For another option in the Gem State, planners can bring their group to The Warehouse Food Hall in Boise. “The Warehouse Food Hall is Boise’s culinary and entertainment hub,” says General Manager Robert Rourk. “It is a truly unique experience that is casual and centrally located in the heart of downtown, an extension of Boise’s Eighth Street dining district.” Covering 29,000 square feet, the open layout lends itself well to seated gatherings of up to 300 attendees, with a total capacity of just under 500. Visitors can select food and beverages among 12 different vendors, from Texas-style barbecue to Thai-fusion pizza, lobster rolls to sushi burritos, and artisanal coffees to regional brews.

Group fare at The Warehouse Food Hall in Boise, Idaho
Group fare at The Warehouse Food Hall in Boise, Idaho || Courtesy of Geronimo Hospitality Group

For fun group activities, Rourk notes the food hall’s cocktail-making classes, swing dance lessons, live music, trivia nights, crochet classes, and the adjacent Treefort Music Hall and Bodo Cinema for a luxury movie theater experience. Although The Warehouse does not currently offer reserved seating and tables, the team is happy to explore large group options with event organizers.

Cascade Cuisine
Meeting-goers can stroll through Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market before, during, or after meetings scheduled in The Goodwin Library next to the market’s famous Public Market Center Clock & Sign. Half-day and full-day rentals are available at the library from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The 250-square-foot space features spectacular views and includes a large conference table with seating for up to 14 people. Attendees can learn to shop like a seasoned market pro on a tour or in a cooking class with Chef Traci Calderon from Atrium Kitchen, which is housed in the same building. For another engaging group activity, planners can schedule a three-hour enamel jewelry workshop for attendees at Magpie Mouse Studios with owner and artist Sarah Meranda. Eateries and restaurants abound at Pike Place Market whether attendees are seeking small bites, a quick lunch, or seated dining options. Popular venues feature fresh local ingredients from the market, including the Northwest’s acclaimed seafood, nuts, and berries.

Randy Miller, who leads Greater Portland Inc.’s Best Practices Trips—which give industry professionals hands-on experiences in learning effective city public policy—is a happy repeat customer at the popular Pine Street Market in Portland, Oregon, “due to the delightful facility and excellent food,” he says. Miller cites the combination of Mediterranean cuisine, abundant choices, and the site’s team as key factors for his group’s return. The staff at Pine Street Market have been “extremely flexible with our choices and changes and have a willingness to provide an exceptional product,” he says. The historic venue’s light-filled, airy space offers an appealing setting that spans 9,000 square feet on two floors connected by an open staircase for gatherings of 50-plus attendees, notes owner Jean-Pierre Veillet; 500-square-foot conference rooms are also available for booking. “It is a blank slate,” says Veillet. “Anything is possible here! Murder-mystery theater, birthday parties, company retreats, and board retreats.” Favorite food options feature handcrafted doughnuts from The Mini Donuts Co., handmade dumplings and bao at Shanghai’s Best, Little Thai Peacock’s Thai comfort food, Matsunoki’s ramen and fried chicken, and fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies at Tita’s Juice Bar.

Opening party at Lil' America food cart pod in Portland, Oregon
Opening party at Lil’ America food cart pod in Portland, Oregon || Photo by Rachelle Hacmac

Portland’s 500-plus food carts (similar to food trucks) also garner a lot of press, and rightfully so—they offer abundant choices in multicultural cuisine around the city. Since last year, food cart community Lil’ America has showcased a variety of enticing choices such as Fry Baby’s Korean Fried Chicken, Makulit’s Filipino fast food, and The Drip’N Crab’s seafood boil. Exclusively owned by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community members, Lil’ America provides an inclusive environment, a large outdoor patio, and a partnership with Fracture Brewing, highlighting Portland’s beer and cocktail scene. In addition to the 2,500-square-foot outdoor tented area, groups have access to an additional 1,000 square feet of event space at Fracture Brewing and 750 square feet of space at adjacent Cache Cache. Karaoke, dance lessons, cooking demos, and craft markets are among the possible activities attendees can engage in at Lil’ America.


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