Founded in 1917, LA’s Grand Central Market (www.grandcentral-market.com) has enjoyed a major renaissance over recent years, as veteran vendors such as Ana Maria and old-school candy store La Huerta, along with upstarts including Eggslut, Horse Thief BBQ, and Berlin Currywurst have reenergized this downtown landmark with dynamic dining diversity.
Juiced up, too, is Anaheim Packing House (www.anaheimpackingdistrict.com/packing-house). Built in 1919, this restored Mission- style landmark is one of the few surviving citrus-packing facilities from Orange County’s name-making days. Now it’s a food hall, with eclectic tastes ranging from Indian to poutine, communal dining in a spacious central atrium, picnic gardens, and outdoor Farmers’ Park marketplace.
In Canada, each of the three leading LGBT travel destinations, Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver, has food market cachet. Introduced in the New France era as communal gathering spots for food and entertainment, public markets have shaped the Montreal scene since 1676. After declining a few decades back when locals steered more towards modern supermarkets, the resurgence of back-to-roots culture and rise of culinary tourism have reinvigorated Montreal’s four main marche publics (www.marchespublics-mtl.com).
Opened in 1933, Little Italy’s much beloved Jean-Talon Market (www.marchespublics-mtl.com/marches/jean-talon) is one of North America’s oldest and largest farmers’ markets. This is the people’s market, its village-like character enhanced by the super-abundance of home-grown products from Quebec. Close to the Lachine Canal in southwest Montreal, Atwater Market (www.marchespublics-mtl.com/en/marches/atwater), also from 1933, is an art deco treasure filled with multi-generational butchers, delis, and other vendors. Maisonneuve Market (www.marchespublics-mtl.com/en/marches/maisonneuve-market), from the early 1900s, and the venerable Lachine Market (www.marchespublics-mtl.com/en/marches/lachine-market), from 1845, round out the flagships.
Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market (www.stlawrencemarket.com) has been a center of commerce and social life for over two centuries. Originally a farmers’ market from 1803, the Old Town complex was built, rebuilt, and modified several times before its present incarnation. Saturday is Market Day, when farmers come in early with their produce. Although, any day is a good day to stroll the floor of the cavernous multi-vendor hall and enjoy local staples such as peameal bacon at Paddington’s Pump, “Home of the Oink.”
Other coordinates include the restaurants, eateries, shops, and artisans in Toronto’s Victorian-era Distillery District (www.thedistillerydistrict.com) and the lively Kensington Market (www.kensington-market.ca).
Just across from downtown Vancouver, Granville Island Public Market (www.granvilleisland.com/public-market) bustles with more than 100 merchants and farmers, many happy to talk about their wares.
Heading south of the border, Mexico City is home to the sprawling La Merced Market. Originated in early colonial days, this teeming complex of vast market halls on the edge of Zócalo, the city’s historic main plaza, is a kaleidoscopic fiesta for the senses. Less crazed is Mercado San Juan, renowned for its diverse mix of traditional fare with the rare and unusual, including live worms, dried grasshoppers, and all manners of offal.
History and authentic flavor also await intrepid gourmands heading to Central and South America.
Founded in 1882, Mercado Central is a labyrinthine wonder in Costa Rica’s alluring capital of San José, filled with tempting tradition- al fare. In Santiago, Chile, Mercado Central is the city’s main fish market, while in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, Abasto Shopping Mall (www.abasto-shopping.com.ar) was built in the 1890s to house the city’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market. Worth visiting for its monumental art deco architecture, this multi-level department store includes an expansive food court in one of its massive halls.
Harrods (www.harrods.com/food-and-wine), with 330 departments on seven floors at its million-plus-square-foot Knightsbridge flagship, still satisfies its Omnia Omnibus Ubique (“All Things for All People, Every- where”) motto. Founded in 1849 as a one-room tea and grocery shop, Harrods opened its ground-floor food hall in 1902. It’s an art nouveau foodie fantasyland, with displays evoking still life masterpieces, hampers to go, and premium dining spots including the Parisian-style Ladurée tea room, Caviar House Oyster Bar, fourth-floor Georgian Restaurant, plus Christmas goodies and luxurious food and wine gifts.
With Patsy and Eddy sousing their way back in 2016’s anticipated Ab Fab: The Movie, their favorite tippling spot, Harvey Nichols (www.harveynichols.com/food-and-wine) is another Knightsbridge legend. Opened in 1813, “Harvey Nicks” and its fifth-floor Foodmarket is for gourmet and private-label treats, rivers of bubbly and wine, classes, tastings, and events. There’s also the fabulous Fifth Floor Bar, inspired by Émile Gallé’s 1902 design for Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Époque Champagne bottle, and dining at Burger & Lobster and the rooftop Café & Terrace. All other U.K. locations, including London’s OXO Tower, Liverpool, Dublin, and Edinburgh, offer dining.
Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason (www.fortnumandmason.com) is a royal appointment with exquisite food hall comestibles including rosepetal jelly, pork pies, Piccadilly Piccalilli, and the finest picnic hampers. Fortnum’s Piccadilly flagship is also home to the St. James Restaurant, renowned for its afternoon tea.
With 11th-century origins, London’s Borough Market (www.boroughmarket.org.uk) has been in its Southwark location since 1756. Home to 100 individual stalls selling a huge variety of British and inter- national produce, this community-driven treasure is rich with local flavor and hospitality.
In France, its gastronomy placed on UNESCO’s “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2010, the traditional marché couvert, (covered market) exists in virtually every city, town, and village. Few anywhere are as spectacular as Galeries Lafayette (www.haussmann.galeries-lafayette.com) in Paris. With seven floors of luxurious goods under “La Coupole,” its spectacular dome of stained glass, this singular bazaar goes even more extra-dimensional during the holidays, creating the most extravagant Christmas decorations and Christmas windows imaginable.
Designer chocolates, fine pastries, and the finest meats, cheeses, and produce are among the lures at Lafayette Maison and Gourmet (www.haussmann.galerieslafayette.com/en/gourmet-and-maison-under-one-roof), with multiple dining concepts range from modern-Japanese cuisine at Côté Sushi to Bagel Corner, overlooking the Paris cityscape from the 8th-floor terrace.
With its central escalator crowned by an art deco ceiling and encircled by balustrade-topped mezzanines, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche (www.lebonmarche.com) originated the department store concept in 1852 and features its own food extravaganza at Le Grande Epicerie (www.lagrandeepicerie.com). Comprising four departments—grocery, fresh produce, wine, and production kitchens—the store offers some 30,000 gourmet products along with amazing prepared foods.
Italy’s headliners include Peck (www.peck.it) in Milan. Opened in 1883 as a deli serving cured and smoked meats, this prestigious emporium lures visitors with window displays (especially enchanting during the holidays) of mouthwatering meats, cheeses, and other fare. Adherence to stringent quality standards means truly world-class products in The Great Deli Shop, along with the hand-made pastas and other gourmet artistry coming out of the show kitchen. There’s also the stylish Ristorante Al Peck, and an impressive wine collection in the basement cellar. In partnership with Japan’s Takashimaya Group (see Asia/Oceania section), Peck outlets are also found in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.
Opened in 2014, Florence’s Mercato Centrale (www.mercatocentrale.it) reinvents the site of a canopied iron-and-glass market from 1874. Inspired by the legendary Les Halles in Paris, the original market was designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni, best known for his spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Adjacent to the sprawling outdoor San Lorenzo Market, the bustling new space comes with an eclectic array of food stands on the first floor, and a collection of casual restaurants on the second floor.