There was a time when the tunnel system was one of Downtown’s best bets for a convenient meal, but with a fresh crop of chef-led food halls popping up in the last decade, it has never been easier to satisfy a craving — whether it’s for coffee and a doughnut or a steamy bowl of pho. From Main Street to Market Square Park, the neighborhood is peppered with options, each housing a multitude of proper dining choices.
And scoring a meal isn’t the only reason to venture in. Each destination is unique in its design, offering photo ops galore, comfy spaces to pass the time between rush hour, and oversized bars ideal for sipping on a necessary post-workday martini.
Check out Houstonia’s breakdown of Downtown’s diverse and worthy food halls.
As the name suggests, Underground Hall is an oasis of food stalls in a sprawling space situated below street level in the middle of Downtown. A grand staircase leads guests down to the basement-style hangout, where counter-service restaurants like Bird Haus hot chicken and Birria Los Primas are centered around communal seating. The bar and beer garden are equally as worthy, boasting a hefty list of Texas beers and plenty of craft cocktails under $10. As expected, the weekday happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m. reels in the corporate crowd, and daily $1 champagne shots make it a festive place to drink on the weekends.
1010 Prairie St., Houston, TX 77002 (281) 888-4323
Find plenty of star power under one roof at Bravery Chef Hall, located on the lobby level of the Aris Market Square residential tower. Truly a chef-led hall, Bravery is home to Master Chef Christine Ha’s Blind Goat, acclaimed sushi chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee’s Kokoro, and Chef Tim Reading’s Ixim, among others. Don’t let its Downtown address fool you — the space boasts a substantial wine bar featuring 30 wines on tap and a hidden outdoor bar, appropriately coined Secret Garden.
409 Travis St. Suite A, Houston, TX 77002 (713) 909-0691
Located inside the Bank of America Tower, Understory wows, not only for its lineup of impressive dining choices, but for its magnificent 40-foot atrium entrance. A larger-than-life staircase leads guests down from street level and doubles as a shared working space with steps large enough to lounge around on. In the fall, the steps get a massive seasonal makeover, boasting Downtown’s largest pumpkin patch, which spills into the hall below. Along with top-notch restaurants like Mona Italian, Seaside Poke and Boomtown Coffee, the hall boasts a large community bar and flex space often reserved for art installations and live music.
800 Capitol St., Houston, TX 77002 (713) 401-5265
The former Barbara Jordan Post Office has been transformed into a Texas-sized multiuse complex called The Post, and at the center is Downtown’s newest food hall, the Post Market. With more than 20 respected food vendors curated for the space by celeb Chef Paul Qui, it’s impossible to have a boring meal. There is Soy Pinoy, a Filipino favorite from Austin; Roberta’s, a destination for Brooklyn-style pizza, and Golfstrømmen, an original seafood concept from Qui and Norwegian superstar Chef Chris Haatuft. Go for the food, but make time to visit the hall’s stunning sky lawn, a rooftop greenspace that boasts breathtaking Downtown views.
401 Franklin St., Houston, TX 77201 (713) 999-2550
Situated steps from the METRORail in the JP Morgan Chase building, this destination is a hub for food and drink among Downtowners. In addition to recognizable favorites like Dish Society and Pho Binh, the hall features original concepts like Papalo Taqueria, Yong and Pizza Zquare. When the workday is done, there are two places to wind down at: a street-level bar and a moody cocktail bar, elevated from the food vendors called Swallow’s Nest — and plenty of patio seating offering city views at every turn.
712 Main St., Houston, TX 77002 (713) 357-5115