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Food Halls keep Atlanta on trend with upgrades to everything Gayby You loved about food courts and College You loved about food trucks.

By Mike Fleming

If you’ve ever been in a group of picky guys trying to decide where to eat, you’re familiar with one of in-town’s irksome little realities: the gay dinner impasse. Thank goodness for Atlanta’s burgeoning crop of European-style food halls. They’re ushering in an era of dinner with food options to please everyone.

Places like Krog Street Market and Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market represent are a local turn in a national surge that started as part of mixed-use developments in New York and L.A. Food Halls are becoming an entrenched part of the culture and scene. Naturally, gay men are leading the way.

The phenomenon finds the leeway to take hold with diners because it offers something Southerners like – namely, lots of food in unending supply and variety – couched in our slow embrace of metropolitan sophistication. Like other facets of world class in-town living on which gay Atlanta leads the charge – take the BeltLine, home to both the aforementioned markets – food halls are an urban concept who’s time has come.

This time last year, the foodies at Eater “officially” declared a food hall boom in the U.S.  Atlanta’s versions follow notable openings in New York, L.A., Chicago and Seattle. Long a tradition in Europe, think of these gathering places as grown up versions of food court convenience with the fully realized potential of your favorite food truck craftsmen.

Like the best examples across the world, Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market is a showcase of unique offerings with a taste for both locally loved and nationally admired restaurateurs. Gay foodies of every ilk are covered, from sit-down to hang-out, and from coffee to cocktails. Cocktails? Yes, PCM has a premise license, so take your adult beverage along as you walk the property.

When you check out the rooftop carnival opening in April, be sure to head downstairs for a full serving of food hall fabulousness. You and your boys will find Mexican food by celebrity chef Sean Brock at Minero, H&F Burger from Linton Hopkins’ Holeman & Finch, continental cuisine by Jonathan Waxman at Brezza, and Justin Anthony’s Biltong Bar.

With 22 eateries open so far, be on the lookout for less-heralded food artisans as well as the big boys. Below are just a few of our favorite PCM food hall finds.

5 Favorite Foods (so far) at Central Food Hall

Honeysuckle Southern Inspired Gelato
Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe is all grown up. Run, do not walk, to get the Gelato Sandwich. Get the one with brownie crust, brown butter gelato and salted caramel topping. Thank us later.

WH Stiles Fish Camp
Clam chowder and seafood po-boys and the lobster roll are good, but under no circumstances can you pass up the Crab Beignets. Little bunches of herbed, fried perfection are even better than they sound.

Hops Chicken
Some of the longest lines in Central Food Hall are waiting to bite into these fried chicken wonders. The Chicken Biscuit with bread-and-butter pickles will make you forget about a certain Atlanta-based fast-food chain with anti-gay leanings.

Farm to Ladle
Whether you’re eating in or doing the “Grab N Go” menu, fresh ingredients are the draw. The Egg & Avocado Sandwich is a revelation, with a quart of any one of their house-made soups.

18.21 Bitters
We love the old-fashioned cocktail mixers named after the amendments that began and ended Prohibition. Let local lesbian mixologists Missy and Kristin Koefod fix you up with small-batch syrups or tinctures.

Want to go?
What: Central Food Hall
Where: Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Info: poncecitymarket.com

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