The New Legacy Food Hall is a Foodie’s Paradise
Written by: Kimberly A. Suta
Photo Courtesy of: Gensler/Alicia Spaete
When you just cannot decide what you want to eat or perhaps when you are in the mood to simply try it all, plan a visit to the new Legacy Hall in Plano for a Texas-sized feast to end all feasts!
“It’s about discovery and exploration,” said Courtney Garza, Sales and Events Manager. “We want you to walk around and find your new favorite food and drinks. They’re all unique and craft-made.”
The food hall, which just opened in December last year, consists of three stories and 55,000 square-feet of deliciousness that Courtney described as a food court on steroids as well as a foodie paradise. They are currently feeding upwards of 5,000 people a day. The hall features over 24 chef-driven food stalls, several bars, an in-house brewery, and a Box Garden.
The idea was inspired by a trip Randy DeWitt, entrepreneur and CEO of Front Burner Restaurants LP, took to Europe, where he discovered the thrill of the European food halls. “When Randy decided he wanted the food hall here to be a European concept, he knew he wanted to incorporate very special aspects of not only Europe, but Texas and Plano. We like to play with food and like to be cheeky about our signage,” said Courtney.
However, the idea itself was the easy part. Where it got tricky was tracking down and interviewing the best-of-the-best chefs and restauranteurs to determine if they would be the right fit.
“It’s highly curated. We hand-selected everyone. We scoured through those lists of “best ofs” to find who really does have the best taco or burger. We went and tried it and interviewed these guys to see if they wanted to be a part of this concept: fast, casual food that’s all artisanal.”
“One of the key aspects of the design was that the food stalls were developed to be open kitchens. “You can see the chefs making your dish, so there’s no confusion about how it was made, what the cooking process was. You can really see the flames as they’re chargrilling your food or sauteing it. It kind of makes it fun. You get to be a part of the craft experience; that’s the whole point of why we did it that way,” explained Courtney.
No Map Required
You may feel like you need a map to navigate yourself around this high-end culinary universe, but you will not find one. “We don’t have those because we want you to walk around, get lost, and find your way. You might run across a mural, perfect for a quick Instagram pic, or you might happen upon the best brat or slice of pizza you’ve ever had in your life,” added Courtney. Good news is, they do have helpers if you get too lost.
The concepts run the gamut, from oak-fired brisket and other barbeque to exotic naan wraps. Of course, there is Tex-Mex. FAQ serves up some “bomb” flautas and quesadillas. You can choose from carne asada, grilled chicken, spinach and poblano peppers, onions and mushrooms or chile y fruta. They also serve up some aguas frescas to wash it down.
High quality though it may be, do not worry; it is not all burgers and beer. You can certainly find some eats on the healthier side, too. FreshFin Poke Co. serves a wide range of poke bowls such as the Hawaiian O.G., made with ahi tuna, green and red onion, cucumber, seasonal radish, crispy garlic, shredded nori, umami shoyu, and sea salt.
However, anyone you talk to will admit that with so many excellent options, it is hard to pick a favorite. “It’s like picking your favorite child,” said Senior Vice President Tim Timbs. Here are a couple of stalls with some stellar concepts that Courtney recommended for further exploration.
Owner and Chef Enrique Urrutia and hsi business partner, Javier Madero, came all the way from San Francisco to open up Bravazo. His California restuarant, La Fusion, has been ranked one of the best 100 restaurants in the City by the Bay, so he was more than prepared to take on Texas appetites.
Bravazo, a Peruvian-influenced rotisserie, is best known for their succulent rotisserie chicken, served with warm bread, salad, and chimichurri but this “meat-lover’s paradise” (a popular moniker for the stall) also serves artisanal sandwiches, empanadas, and salads. “A lot of people are into the Peruvian flavors right now,” Enrique explained, whose mom is from Peru and dad is from Mexico City.
“It’s been amazing,” said Enrique. “It’s one of the best experiences of my life, coming to Texas. People love the food and restaurants at the hall … you can see so many people walking around, enjoying all these different concepts.”
The DFW area is familiar with this prized Neapolitan-style pizza, as Forno Nero is an offshoot of the well-established Cavalli Pizza. These pies are cooked in a 900-degree, wood-fired oven with ingredients solely procured from Naples. “The tomatoes we use for our sauce are grown in the soil of Mount Vesuvius. It’s the best tasting tomato. We don’t add anything to the sauce but a little salt. We also hand-make our mozzarella every day in-house.”
According to Chase, they are a certified Neapolitan pizza company, which is an honor for a Texas pizzeria. The crust, which cooks up in 90 seconds, is a light, puffed up crust with charred blisters. The most popular pizza on the menu is the classic, margherita.
Legacy Hall Founder, and President of Front Burner, Jack Gibbons was already a fan of Cavalli Pizza, and so it was not a big surprise when Forno Nero made the cut. “We still had to go through the process and compete with other pizza companies,” said Chase, who is also the head pizzaiolo, or pizzamaker.
Chases uses Forno Nero as a kind of test kitchen for Cavalli. The environment allows them to try out new things and get a lot of great feedback quickly. “I’m getting to do what I love – working with food and working with people,” he added.
Of course, you cannot have a food hall of this magnitude without having a brewery that can hold its own.
Unlawful Assembly Brewing Company (UABC) opened at the same time as the hall, and like everything else here, it sports its own distinctive personality. “Our goal is to create not only fantastic beers but beers we feel are unique in their own way … we put our own little twist on them,” shared Brewer Tom Janik.
The brewery, which is located on the second and third floors, also features an open-style design so that the guests feel as if they are in the brewery itself. You can watch as the brewers work their magic, and even go on a tour. However, this tour, like everything else, is unique. Instead of a technical blow-by-blow of the process, guests are escorted through the brewery by comedians, who do their best to liven things up.
What is even more exciting are the collaborations coming out of the food hall. “Collaborating is a big part of what we like to do,” shared Tom. “We worked with Glazed Donut Works to do a donut and beer pairing, using some of the flavors that you’ll find in the beer. It was yummy!”
The team also partnered up with Monkey King Noodle Company, located along with them on the third floor, to do some beer pairings that complement their Asian flavors.
The most recent addition to Legacy Food Hall is the outdoor Box Garden that included twelve repurposed shipping containers, converted to create additional food and drink stalls, as well as a 50-foot container owned by Doodle Farms filled with hydroponically-grown herbs and veggies that the food hall chefs can incorporate into their dishes.
Visitors can expect to see more live performances and events here as well. They kicked off their live entertainment offerings this past May with singer-songwriter, Sarah Jaffe.
The hall also does its best to make sure they are incorporating sustainability into the model. Diners will find recycling containers on every floor, with more signage on how to sort your waste, including compost. “Everything is self-serve here,” noted Courtney.
To explore Legacy Food Hall for yourself before making the trip, visit legacyfoodhall.com and map out your own edible tour.