I love the culinary variety and options that eating at a great food hall can bring to the adventurous foodie. And I’ve been fortunate to visit some of the great ones, from DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn, Faneuil Hall in Boston, Eataly in Manhattan, and Reading Terminal Market in Philly, to Time Out Market in Lisbon and Mercado de Produtores in Rio, to name a few. I love them all.
Well suddenly, Salt Lake City has not one, but three food halls. First, HallPass opened at The Gateway in December of 2019 and continues to impress. Most recently, The Local Market & Bar opened downtown in late February and I’ll be writing about it soon. Meanwhile, Woodbine Food Hall & Bar launched in the Granary District last summer. I and some family and friends visited Woodbine on a busy Friday night recently to scope out some of the food and drink options there.
Woodbine is a European-style food hall with cafeteria-type seating – a family-friendly affair that also includes a 21 and over bar with a rooftop patio. Some of the businesses at Woodbine are already established with other locations – 3 Cups, for example. Others are one-offs. In addition to the Cocktail Bar, some of the food hall purveyors serve wine and beer – Mozz, for instance.
If you’re enjoying an adult libation at the Cocktail Bar, you can also order food from some of the businesses and they’ll deliver it to you at the bar. Others don’t deliver, but you can pick up food from any vendor and bring it into the bar with you. It’s a nice spot to get away from the noisy hustle and bustle of the food hall proper.
I haven’t eaten at every food stall at Woodbine yet, but have made my way through many. I’ve found fare there that was superb and some that was barely mediocre. Here are some snapshots.
Let’s begin our Woodbine tour with Deadpan Sandwich, whose motto is “Sandwiches for your problems.” Problem-solving sandwiches at Deadpan run the gamut from fairly routine, such as the Turkey Club ($15) and The Big Tuna ($14) to more adventurous sammiches like the house Falafel ($14), Grilled Kimcheese ($12), and the Italian Beef ($16) made with “whey-braised beef clod heart, giardiniera, seasonal greens, and Duke’s mayo on a hoagie roll.” I’ve never had wiener schnitzel in sandwich form, but the Oh Schnitzel ($14.50) sandwich at Deadpan is killer: pork schnitzel with ranch-kraut, parsley, dill, and mayo on toasted white bread.
We were less impressed at Querubin and The Taco Lady, which serves birria, asada, pastor, vapor, pollo, and veggie tacos (tacos are $4.50), as well as burritos ($12), sopes ($9), and for kids: cheese quesadilla ($6) or chicken fingers & fries. ($8). The chicken (pollo) taco was on the dry side and a shrimp cocktail served in a plastic drinking cup with saltines on the side came directly from the fridge and tasted like a bloody mary with tiny, tough morsels of shrimp here and there. No bueno.
One of the highlights of our visit was pizza from Mozz Artisan Pizza. The Woodbine Mozz is a spin-off of the original Mozz located in Provo, with a third location opening in South Jordan in the summer of 2023. The wood-fired pizzas at Mozz are second to none and feature locally-sourced ingredients, house-made mozzarella, naturally leavened dough, and a “100% scratch menu from, Chef Brett Ramuno and co.” This is the real deal.
Mozz pizzas run $14-$17, plus a kids pepperoni pizza for $9. There are also a variety of salads available from $7 for a Caesar or Mediterranean half salad to $14 for the full versions. But it’s the pizza you’ll visit Mozz for, whether your preference is a White Pizza with speck, Meat Pizza with Creminelli pepperoni and house-made Italian sausage featuring pork from Clifford Family Farms in Provo, or a classic Margherita pizza with house-made mozzarella, tomato sauce, and Snuck Farm basil. The Mozz pizza that rocked my world was a Serrano & Honey Pizza which featured spicy calabrese Italian salami, fresh serrano pepper slices, raw local honey, and (optional) arugula as an add-on.
Taste of Louisiana isn’t very aptly named, since the flavors aren’t very true to the Cajun-Creole cuisine of the Pelican State. And it’s pretty pricey for comfort food. A regular order of seafood gumbo with shrimp, scallops, chicken sausage, crawfish tail meat over rice and topped with lump crab meat is $21, or $26 for a large order. I sampled a couple of sides ($4.25 each) and I could barely detect any crawfish in the crawfish étouffé. The red beans & rice were pretty mediocre as well. You’ll want to use plenty of Louisiana Hot Sauce to kick the flavors up a few notches.
I didn’t get a chance to try the empanadas at Tina’s Bakery, but look forward to doing so on another visit. They are $6.50 apiece and include variations such as traditional beef, caprese, ham and cheese, corn and butternut squash, Argentinian-style pulled pork, spicy chicken, picante chorizo, and others.
Nor did I sample any of the vegan fare at Vuture Food where they say “The future is vegan.” According to the folks at Vuture Food, they started out as a food truck in Northridge, California selling “fantastic vegan junk food” and they now have “three teams that visit over 50 different cities all year long,” including the stall at Woodbine. The menu at Vuture Food is an extensive one with lots of Beyond Burger options, Chikn sandwiches, patty melts, a bevy of loaded fries, tacos, burritos, macaroni bowls, sides, and much more. Truly something vegan for everybody.
Family-owned 3 Cups is a coffee shop with an original location in Holladay. At Woodbine’s 3 Cups you’ll find everything to warm a coffee drinker’s heart, from Americanos, au lait, cappuccino and chai, to cortado, drip coffee, latte, macchiato, matcha, mocha, and more. In the “more” category are wine, charcuterie and dessert pairing evenings.
The highlight of my Woodbine evening however was at Yakuza Ramen, where owner Maxwell Peck and his team make ramen from scratch every day. Peck is no newcomer to ramen. He worked with Toshio Sekikawa at Tosh’s Ramen before he and his wife Annie Maisat purchased Tosh’s. So the ramen at Yakuza Ramen is absolutely legit.
There are four from-scratch ramens available: Karai Ramen ($14.95), Vegetarian Ramen ($13.95), Curry Ramen ($14.95), and my favorite, Tonkotsu ($13.95). The tonkotsu ramen is a traditional Hakata-style ramen with luscious, almost creamy, pork bone broth (tonkotsu broth), pork slices (chashu), perfectly cooked wheat noodles, soft-boiled egg (onsen tamago), moyashi (bean sprouts), and green onion (negi). If you love the ramen at Tosh’s, you’ll love Yakuza.
In addition to food and drink, Woodbine Food Hall also hosts occasional entertainment such as James Hardy in the Cocktail Bar, televised sports events, jazz from Taku & Co., wine tastings from 3 Cups, and more. Woodbine Food Hall is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week: “Worries go down better with soup than without.” – Jewish Proverb
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.