Somewhere between a circling of food trucks and the humble food court lies the hottest trend in dining out -destination food "halls", collections of mini restaurants devoted to doing their thing with artisanal passion and culinary style. Think: Fanueil Hall in Boston, The Ferry Building in San Francisco, Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and now, the Anaheim Packing House.
Located inside a restored 1919 citrus-packing warehouse in downtown Anaheim, California, the two-story historic landmark features a large central atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes and kiosks, outdoor picnic gardens and a dining porch overlooking Farmers’ Park.
In a word, it's cool.
21 vendors and counting...
In addition to the food, the place is a feast for the eyes - I found the clever interior design and attention to detail inspiring. After a little research, I wasn't surprised to learn that LAB Holding, LLC, the same company responsible for creating SOLO in Encinitas, The LAB and The CAMP in Costa Mesa and The Casino in San Clemente were in charge of the transformation.
The Packing House opens at 10:30 daily and the bars stay open til midnight. I visited with a friend around 11am on a Tuesday and this was the scene. However, it began to fill up quickly around lunch time. According to the friendly folks working behind the counters, dinner time gets busy and on weekends when the live music and farmer's market get going it's a packed house -pun intended.
In spite of the fact it was five o'clock somewhere, Hammer Workshop and Bar, wasn't open yet -which worked out great because I had free reign with my camera. Quite possibly the cutest purveyor of spirits around. A vintage tractor appeared to be hooked up to the clever restaurant and the working farm theme didn't stop there. Styled vintage tools, seat backs with old copies of Popular Mechanic, tractor seat stools, antique thermos', clamps and over-the-bar rake hooks paid homage to the packing house origins --while the lemons and limes still present in the space can be used for cocktails. Win-win!
Grilled artisanal cheese sandwiches at Black Sheep.
An impressive array of taps at Iron Press serving up local beer and waffle sandwiches.
Since my friend and I were newbies, it didn't occur to us to order from separate restaurants -but in retrospect that seemed to be what most folks were doing. We saw people get their food and join friends in one of multiple eating areas -which would be a great way to sample from more than one place!
The chairs above were cuter than they were comfortable...points for style!
Next time: frozen hot chocolate from Dark 180? (We had a sample - it was awesome!) Comfort food from The Kroft? Soul food from Georgia's? Juice from The Lemon Drop...Japanese? Indian? Burgers? Or all of the above?
I may need to make more trips...
Photography by Bonnie McCarthy c.2014.