Morgan Street Food Hall opened last year, bringing the food hall concept to downtown Raleigh.
While some of the vendors are familiar to Triangle diners, either through their food trucks or other brick-and-mortar locations, many of them are making their Raleigh debuts and have quickly become new favorites.
As food halls across the Triangle settle in, I’m making my own repeat visits to sample both new and old. This month, when I went to Morgan Street Food Hall, I discovered so many vendors, I’m forced to throw in the towel halfway through my research.
We’ll regroup and return with a Part 2 on the other vendors next month.
Arbor Bar & Garden
There’s seating scattered throughout Morgan Street Food Hall, but a seat at the Arbor Bar is like upgrading to business class. Just bring a friend and snag a couple of seats at the bar, then order your poison: beer (wide selection, including a few local brews on tap), glass of wine, or cocktail (say, one of the house specialty variations on a Moscow Mule). One of you stay at the bar while the other hits the vendor of your choice. Some will give you a pager, others will give an estimate of how long your order will take. Return to the bar until your food is ready, then go pick it up and take it back to the bar. Cheers!
Bad Cat Coffee Co.
Bella’s Wood-Fired Pizza
The wares: Neapolitan-style pizzas cooked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven. Topping options range from classic margherita to Casino Clam (on a base of olive oil and roasted garlic, topped with arugula, romano and fresh herbs). A handful of wood-fired tapas (bruschetta, petite baked brie, meatball parmesan, seasonal baked pasta) are also available.
The wares: Kolaches, Carroll’s signature take on traditional Eastern European rolls are the star of the show here with a variety of sweet and savory fillings: spinach and feta, wild mushroom, coconut cream, and apple pie, to name a few. The menu also offers a tempting selection of salads, quiche variations, sandwiches and wraps. Whatever you order, knowing that Carroll’s, whose original location is on East Martin Street, is a nonprofit that provides healthy employment for women leaving crisis is icing on the cake.
The wares: Do a little eavesdropping as you stroll around the food hall, and chances are you’ll hear someone raving about Cowbar’s burgers. Take the hint. Go traditional (Classic Cheeseburger: two patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and CowBar Sauce) or go haute (Truffle Burger: caramelized onions, truffle butter, shaved truffle, smoked gouda). Either way, you’ll find yourself becoming one of those people being eavesdropped on.
Cousins Maine Lobster
The wares: Devotees of the elusive Maine lobster roll no longer have to schedule their day around the Cousins food truck schedule, now that they’ve opened a permanent spot here. Lobster tacos, lobster grilled cheese and Connecticut lobster roll (New England’s answer to the Maine version, served warm with butter and lemon) are a few other attractions at this lobster lover’s mecca.
Curry in a Hurry
The wares: Curry in a Hurry is another vendor brought to you by a popular local food truck and perfumes the food hall air with the aroma of Indian spices. Chana masala and lamb curry are winning options for traditionalists, while those in the mood for something different can scratch the itch with a Thai green curry or an Indian-style naan wrap called a Naanwich.
Mama Bird’s Cookies + Cream
The wares: I scream, you scream, we all scream with happiness that Mama Bird’s — a mobile vendor specializing in ice cream made in small batches using all-natural ingredients — has set up shop here. Choose from a rotating selection of more than a dozen flavors — blueberry crumble, caramel macchiato, pineapple sorbet and vegan Almond Joy, to name a few recent temptations.
The wares: Fans of the erstwhile Wicked Taco on Western Boulevard no longer have to go cold turkey, now that they’ve opened a food hall location. Hunger pangs for The Wicked One (barbecue brisket, onions, chipotle cream corn, jack cheese and Wicked sauce) need no longer go unsatisfied. Same goes for the vegetarian Endless Summer (poblanos, corn, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella, frijoles, habanero sauce, microgreens), or any of a dozen other contemporary riffs on the taco theme (including build-your-own naked tacos for those watching their carbs).
Morgan Street Food Hall is at 411 W. Morgan St., Raleigh. It is open Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight. For more, go to morganfoodhall.com