by Nicole Marin • June 1, 2016
City’s first food hall serves as unique dining option for Houstonians and a stepping stone for local chefs
One of the latest trends sweeping the restaurant industry has been the opening of food halls across the nation. What is a food hall? Think of it as a fancier version of a food court with carefully curated food and drink offerings. From New York to Los Angeles, most major culinary destinations have them– and now with Conservatory, Houston does too, thanks to Anh Mai and Lian Pham, owners of neighboring Downtown destination, Prohibition Supperclub and Bar.
Located at 1010 Prairie, Conservatory is a welcome addition to downtown’s hip Historic Market Square neighborhood. The design blends industrial and wood finishes and is accented by a beautiful plant wall. When asked about the name, Mai confesses he got the idea of Conservatory from his mother who loved tending to her gardens.
The cozy venue, which is located underground, is meant to provide a stepping stone for vendors who do not currently have their own restaurants but are looking to transition to their own brick and mortar space. It is currently the home to four local establishments including El Burro and the Bull (BBQ), The Pho Spot, Arte Pizzeria, Moku Bar, and Gordi's Arepas; as well as, the Noble Rot Wine Bar and a beer garden with an extensive in-house bar that includes 60 beers on tap.
With such a large variety of food options in Houston, it’s hard to imagine how the choices were narrowed down to just four. “We had a really long vetting process trying to find quality vendors and up-and-coming chefs who we knew had great food, an established following, an interesting story and would be really good operators,” said Mai. It was also important to him to bring in a diverse offering that hit on different markets. The individual concepts are anticipated to operate at Conservatory for a year but are welcome to request a renewal. The hall, which is open for lunch, dinner and late-night eats (3 a.m. on weekends) also hosts special pop-ups from chefs around the city.
“We try to develop unique concepts that Houston would welcome. Our goal is for this to become a landmark,” says Mai.
With all the acclaim Houston’s food scene has received over the past few years and what seems like a constant hunger from Houstonians and food critics around the country to discover the coolest new dining options, expectations are high for this new Downtown destination!
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