SoCal’s Newest Obsession: Food Halls

Did you miss us? We have been bustling around beautiful Southern California doing research on 2 new series that we are developing! From new foodie experiences to highlights about little known southern California cities. Luckily we are back at work behind the keyboards to let you all know about our latest findings.


What is with everyone’s fascination with food halls in southern California? From 7 new food halls slated to be opening within this year just in Los Angeles, to the new “boutique” cafeterias popping up in Orange County. It’s safe to say that this “foodie fad” has definitely taken hold here in the Golden State. With our Instagram feeds over running with these new, up and coming food sensations we decided it was time to visit one ourselves. Before we dive into the details, remember that we are not by any means connoisseurs of fine dining, but we do still have taste buds. So take what we have to say with a big spoonful of sugar and a huge grain of salt.

Where We Went:

TRADE Food Hall in Irvine, CA. More like a patio than anything.

2222 Michelson Drive Irvine, CA, 92612

A Food Hall By Any Other Name…

I would not consider TRADE as a food hall. For starters, it was not inside a building but more like in an open patio area with limited ventilation. So let’s just call it what it is, it is an outdoor food court serving better than cafeteria quality food. When we visited it was nearly 90 degrees out, which made standing in the area unbearable. There is a lot of tables to sit at within the patio area, but the trees inside don’t create anywhere near enough shade to be adequate at best. We made many references to the surface of the sun being more pleasant to give you a little more insight to our uncensored feelings.

This however does not stop the crowds from flocking down to this glorified strip mall in the middle of nowhere Irvine. Literally you are smack in the middle of a commercial district, right down the street from John Wayne Airport. When you arrive, it’s hard to tell who the average clientele are. Was it placed here to make it seem more obscure to attract the hipster crowd? Like an oasis surrounded by the corporate wasteland of Orange county? Or was it merely supposed to be a lunch escape for the workers in the commercial district?

What We Ate:

Dos Chinos

Dos Chinos Stoner Fries


Sweet Combforts Liege waffles
Photo Cred: @SweetCombforts on Instagram

Sweet Combforts

After a brief conference, we decided to order food from Dos Chinos and Sweet Combforts. Dos Chinos’ “Stoner fries” left much to desired; although they look delicious the fries were lacking basic seasoning and the pork belly was way too greasy. Sweet comforts serves liege waffles on a stick, but seemed more like a novelty than a sweet treat. To get the full taste of the waffles themselves, I ordered the “plain Jane”; a plain beige waffle with a dusting of powdered sugar. The texture was a little too doughy and the only real flavor is from the nutmeg in the batter.

All around we were disappointed with what we ordered.

We found ourselves hot, sweaty and $30 Poorer

We spent about $30 at TRADE for loaded fries, a lemonade, and 2 waffles on a stick. Putting aside the price, we truly felt as though we were mislead. We use social media so frequently to find new experiences that people enjoy, and it seems as though we were caught up in a well executed marketing plan. From travel bloggers (not unlike ourselves) to food enthusiasts, we were inundated with amazing photos and reviews of this food.  We felt catfished; while the food may have been photo-worthy, all around the were just disappointed with the experience. So Where Does This Lead Us?

We love the concept of being able to have an eclectic culinary adventure under one roof and we will continue to refine our own tastes. Maybe that is exactly what TRADE also needs time to do, in regards to making their customers comfortable.  After much consideration, we decided to not return to TRADE any time soon. Food halls are here to stay and we will just have to keep trying more until we find one we like.



Until next time, don’t forget that Tums really are a girls best friend and anyone can travel.

What do you think? Are we completely out of touch and don’t know what good food is? Is there a food hall that you can’t stop raving about? Leave us a comment and let us hear all about it!

2 thoughts on “SoCal’s Newest Obsession: Food Halls

  1. I want to know more. What exactly is a “food hall”? Is it similar to a school cafeteria? A buffet? Order and take to a bench?

    Have you been to Phillipe’s in Hollywood? Would that be considered a food hall?

    Crap, I’m hungry.

    1. A food hall is closer to like a mall food court than anything. Lots of windows or “stalls” offering different food. I have been to Phillipe’s in Los Angeles, that would be more considered cafeteria style.

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