Maxim – Top Order The Ernesto

Invite a woman on a date to a food court and you’ll find out how reviled America’s least prestigious eateries have become. On the one hand, we can understand why: There are the overstuffed containers full of aging cuisine, the overstuffed patrons full of aging cuisine, and the overstuffed trash cans full of aging cuisine – and that’s just during lunch. (Come back after school lets out and it’s a whole different ordeal.) Fortunately, change – like the smell of Szechuan pork – is in the air.

High-end food halls have been cropping up all over the country as smaller eateries (or food trucks) band together to build an audience and a business. Like every other trend of late, this one is trickling up. Suddenly, Michelin-starred chefs are dishing out next to their competition and offering their customers something more eclectic than a 7-course sit down.

While the less-appetizing establishments still exist, they’re headed the way of the neighborhood mall, which is to say out of business. Hopefully the stigma will die with them because, as Americans, we have the write to pursue happiness even when it means chasing a burrito with pad thai.

Here are the food halls leading the charge:

Gansevoort Market: New York, NY

The new, enclosed food court located in the city’s Meatpacking District has an American feel, but remains a cross-country affair. Order some lobster rolls, mozzarella pies, and LA-style tacos pica dill before settling in at one of the mismatched tables.

Top Order: The Ernesto from Cappone’s Salumeria

Thanks, Maxim! For the full list, go here.