Dining out can be a treat for families, but it’s a drag when family members can’t agree on a restaurant or cuisine. Thankfully, food halls (aka modern-day food courts) can make out-of-the-house dining a pleasure by serving up a variety of dishes from a multitude of food stands, all under one roof.
This post is brought to you by Public Market Emeryville. With 20+ artisan eateries in the Public Market food hall, everyone in the family will find a meal they will love. You can enjoy a meal in the indoor dining area, on spacious outdoor patios, on a blanket near the play structure in Christie Park, or to go.
Parents can choose an eatery, your kids get to choose an eatery, and all are happy. We rounded up four East Bay food halls that should be on your radar the next time someone says, “Let’s go out for dinner.”
Food Halls in the (510)
Public Market in Emeryville
This upscale food hall experience has many different lunch and dinner options to please nearly every palate, plus indoor and outdoor patio dining. Choose from Peruvian and pizza to ramen and ribs at the 20 purveyors. Several businesses offer kids’ meals or kid-friendly options, including C Casa, Jayna Gyro, Paradita Eatery, Super Duper Burgers, NabiQ, and Pizzeria Mercato. Families can take advantage of child-sized tables, sporting events played on the big screens, monthly live music, occasional events, and free games like air hockey and foosball.
Location: 5959 Shellmound St, Emeryville
Hot Insider Tip: Kiddie Combos at C Casa includes an entree, fruit, a drink, and a dessert for about $10 – that’s a great deal for your little one!
Nearby Family Activity: Christie Park (aka Whale Park) is just steps away from the Public Market. Grab your food and eat al fresco outside near the giant whale play structure. The Emeryville Marina and Bay Trail are great stroller-friendly walking options not far from the market.
Lake Chabot Public Market in Castro Valley
Families who enjoy Asian cuisine and sweet treats will enjoy Lake Chabot Public Market. The light and airy building houses 6 vendors, plus there’s a coffee tailor outside. Parking is free and plentiful. There are several large tables in the indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Location: 18911 Lake Chabot Rd, Castro Valley
Hot Insider Tip: Cool down with a sweet treat like Boba Tea from T4 or a scoop of uniquely-flavored ice cream at Milk & Cookie Bar.
Nearby Family Activities: Down the street, you’ll find Castro Valley Community Park: a large park with several play structures that appeal to multiple age groups, plus a splash pad during the summertime. A short drive away, families can play a round of mini golf at Golden Tee Golfland, or spend time near the water at Lake Chabot Regional Park.
Swan’s Market in Oakland
Located in Old Oakland — where the streets are paved with brick and the buildings are filled with charm — Swan’s Market is home to a variety of restaurants and businesses. The central food hall area has a handful of stalls that are a great option for lunch or a quick snack. There’s a large indoor dining space and outdoor seating, too. The building itself is a bit of a maze, filled with hallways and courtyards; I find it helpful to take a photo of the map posted on the building’s exterior because I can get a little turned around while inside. Street parking can be tricky at certain times of the day, but there are a couple of parking garages in the area.
Address: 538 9th St, Oakland
Hot Insider Tip: The mini cupcakes from Cupcakin’ Bake Shop offer the ideal amount of sweetness for kids begging for dessert. There’s also a butcher on site, so you can grab some ingredients for dinner after your meal.
Nearby Family Activities: Walk to the open studio sessions at The Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) or visit The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) in Swan’s Market itself. A few Oakland attractions are close by (but likely too far for little legs to walk) including OMCA, Children’s Fairyland, Jack London Square, and Gardens at Lake Merritt.
Epicurious Garden in Berkeley
Epicurious Garden has a small collection of eateries for takeaways or dining in its beautiful secret garden — complete with flowers, a pond, and waterfall. The vendors serve up options that aren’t overtly kid-friendly but are familiar to kids, like quesadillas, miso soup, or chicken and rice.
Address: 1511 Shattuck Ave. #1581, Berkeley
Hot Insider Tip: We love the ease of Kirala 2’s grab-and-go for sushi and small bites. All the food vendors are vegetarian and vegan-friendly — just ask. Multiple levels of outdoor seating make dining al fresco a real treat for the whole family.
Nearby Family Activities: Pick up food for a picnic at Live Oak Park, just a little walk down the road. The food hall is also a convenient location if you’re planning to drive into Tilden Park or explore the Cal campus.
Food Halls Worth the Trip out of the (510)
If you’re in the area, these food halls may be a worthwhile visit if you’re looking for eateries that appeal to all:
- Market & Main, Martinez is a quaint indoor food hall downtown. It has a few stalls and is located just blocks from two putt-putt businesses: MarTEEnez Minigolf and Putter’s Goat Track Country Club.
- The Ferry Building, San Francisco is a landmark building worth a visit for its sheer size and variety of food options. Travel from the East Bay by ferry for additional fun! Read more about visiting the Ferry Building with kids >
Thanks again to Public Market Emeryville, where your family can travel the world one bite at a time. Find family-friendly monthly events including Market Beats, Trivia Tuesday, and pop-up events that will surprise + delight like craft events, game nights + more. Plus, free game tables, kid-sized seating, and a new order-from-your-table option.
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