Foodie Travels: Morgan Street Food Hall, Raleigh, N.C.

Cow Bar
A handcrafted burger with fries from Cow Bar inside Morgan Street Food Hall

What’s even better than a #FoodieScore?

Many foodie scores of multiple types all under the same roof!

That’s the kind of culinary delight you find in a place like Morgan Street Food Hall in North Carolina’s capital city of Raleigh.

Morgan Street shares on its website that a food hall differs from a food court. Whereas the latter typically groups various national chain restaurants in one convenient location, often as part of a shopping mall with other kinds of businesses, a food hall offers easy access to an array of unique, locally-owned dining options. The #EatLocal angle certainly appeals to us, as we prefer to support one-of-a-kind restaurants, and we found a smorgasbord of incredible flavors from local businesses at Morgan Street Food Hall.

Morgan Street Food Market

During a visit to Raleigh’s downtown historical sights one day this summer, we walked about a mile down the street to the food hall for lunch. The building itself is simple and unassuming enough that you wouldn’t expect anything special from the outside. But once inside, your perspective changes as you survey the sights and smells to find almost any menu imaginable.

You’ll find Indian cuisine, sushi and hibachi, and Maine lobster.

Craft burgers, tacos and wood-fired pizza.

Looking for a quick pick-me-up? You’ll also find a coffee shop, specialty teas and other delicacies.

There’s even a bar if you enjoy alcoholic beverages.

And if you save enough room for dessert following a meal, sweet-treat options include rolled ice cream, macaroons and other confections.

The #EatLocal angle certainly appeals to us, as we prefer to support one-of-a-kind restaurants, and we found a smorgasbord of incredible flavors from local businesses at Morgan Street Food Hall.

A food hall is the perfect foodie destination for every kind of diner, from those like my wife Molly and me who enjoy a little bit of everything to those who have more specific tastes.

On our first visit to Morgan Street, Molly sampled Makus Empanadas and I picked up lunch at Cow Bar. After scoping out the entire dining hall together, we diverged to order at the individual vendors and await our orders before reuniting to pick our seats.

Makus Empanadas
Different empanadas from Makus Empanadas inside Morgan Street Food Hall

We ate lunch for about $20 total, including small tips to each restaurant vendor. Molly bought a soda, and I took advantage of the free water on tap in the dining hall for customers.

Molly’s empanadas were splendid, flaky crusts with savory fillings of chicken, beef and spinach, and a side of seasoned black beans. My burger was the perfect combination of fresh beef, melty cheese, soft bun and fresh vegetables, with a side of fresh-cut fries.

Another great thing about Morgan Street Food Hall is that we got a little exercise on the way over and a little on the way back to museums after lunch. Then we added another round of exercise with a walk back in the afternoon to share a coffee-style treat at Raleigh Rolls, a rolled ice cream counter.

We didn’t notice any specific parking for the food hall, but there are plenty of spaces on the surrounding streets. We parked in a pay-by-the-hour lot close to the state’s history and natural science museums, about a mile away.

Raleigh Rolls
The Benelux Biscoffee special at Raleigh Rolls, featuring products from Raleigh’s Benelux Coffee

Food halls often offer several big advantages for diners, and this one in Raleigh is true to that form. Perhaps the biggest positive is that different members of a family can all find the different foods they want for a meal and still eat together at one table. You can even get a little physical activity strolling through town to get there from one of many other attractions.

Our only regret is that the food hall concept on the American East Coast is still relatively confined to big cities. We’ve visited Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Lexington Market in Baltimore, and Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, in addition to Raleigh’s Morgan Street Food Hall, and we left each with the joy and pride of experiencing the tastes of local food and the hospitality of local people. That’s the textbook definition of a #FoodieScore, with the added bonus of many great dining opportunities in one place.

Perhaps the biggest positive is that different members of a family can all find the different foods they want for a meal and still eat together at one table.

We observed people of all ages and walks of life during our time at Morgan Street Food Hall, as well as the other markets we’ve explored. That tells us such a dining concept serves everyone in a community.

Many old buildings, such as textile mill factories and former indoor shopping malls, sit vacant throughout the South. We believe some of those spaces would make great food halls as well, with the right investors and the right culinary entrepreneurs. The only other thing needed to make them a success are hungry customers like us and like you!

Morgan Street Food Hall, 411 West Morgan Street, Raleigh, N.C.

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