San Diego’s first food hall is housed in the city’s former naval training center, a 361-acre site in Point Loma that now features a lively business district with wide lawns, a waterfront park, and historic Spanish Revival–style buildings. Here, vendors serve everything from coconut-curry chicken sausages to ahi tuna poke bowls, providing the makings of a casual lunch or dinner. Take your food to the patio, or sit inside at the high-top tables near the bar and enjoy the untouched murals that line the upper walls. Painted by naval recruits in the 1950s, they depict various vessels, from a late 18th-century sailing ship to a World War II aircraft carrier.
Fresh and New
With nearly 30 local purveyors, the just-opened Liberty Public Market is a microcosm of San Diego’s food world⎯and its sole restaurant, Mess Hall, is a microcosm of the market. Every day, chef Tim Kolanko riffs on whatever market ingredient catches his eye. Say, sea trout. Tim served a potato pancake inspired by the ones his Polish grandmother used to make, topped with a crudo made with salmon belly from seafood vendor FishBone. “But when we went back the next day to get more salmon,” Tim says, “Dan Nattrass, our fishmonger, showed me these beautiful, sustainable sea trout—a rare thing to find.” Hello, sea trout crudo. His grandmother served the cakes with sour cream, but at Mess Hall, Tim upgrades the dish using crème fraîche, trout roe, and a lemon purée. “There’s a lot in one bite,” he says.