The southeast end of downtown Dallas is expected to go from food desert to food court overnight with the anticipated openings of a dozen new Dallas Farmers Market restaurants and shops.
But if you've driven by the farmers market anytime lately, construction looks far from finished.
A statement assures most of the restaurants inside a redone building called The Market, formerly known as Shed 2, begin serving food Dec. 11. The Market is but one piece of a $65 million project that includes a redone Shed 1 -- now called The Shed -- and coming-soon apartments and a parking garage.
In keeping with the tradition of mostly-local food at the Dallas Farmers Market, all of the new restaurants inside The Market will be operated by local owners, says Emily Valentino, director of operations at the Dallas Farmers Market.
The Market will be home to these eateries:
- Taqueria La Ventana: a taco stand operated by Firebird Restaurant Group, which also runs Tex-Mex restaurants El Fenix and burger joints Snuffer's
- Rex's Seafood at The Market: a restaurant and retail fish market similar to the two existing Rex's in Dallas, though this one is expected to be "trendier," Valentino says
- Stocks & Bondy: a soup and sandwich place, a market selling to-go items and stocks for at-home cooking, and a location for cooking classes for kids and adults
- Nammi/Coolhaus: two Dallas food trucks that will sell together in one restaurant. The menu will have traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches from Nammi and ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus.
- Scardello Artisan Cheese: specialty cheese shop with an existing location on Oak Lawn Avenue in Dallas
- Market Provisions Co.: similar to a present-day general store
- Caribbean Cabana: Caribbean restaurant known for its jerk chicken
- Chelles Macarons: French dessert shop that will pair macarons and tea
- Doc Popcorn: specialty popcorn shop with flavors such as cheesy cheddar, French toast and caramel kettle
- La Popular: tamale house that becomes especially busy during Christmas tamale season
- Cajun Tailgators: a Cajun and Creole food truck that has expanded into a cafe
- Betty's Blue Ribbon Fare: local business specializing in jams, jellies and marmalades
Beside the many new restaurants and food stands inside The Market, a few vendors will sell nonfood products. Those include a natural soap shop called Abundantly Aromatic, cheeky T-shirt shop Bullzerk -- which plans to haul an Airstream trailer into its retail space, Dallas Antique Company and returning Dallas Farmers Market vendor San Miguel Exporta.
Other businesses such as a coffee shop and pizza place are expected to open in The Market later, when construction is complete. The farmers market has three remaining spaces to fill, and Valentino says they're finalizing those tenants now.
The Market will be a mix of new and established talent -- "a collaborative community made up of local rising stars and established Dallas names under one roof," says Jack Gosnell, the CBRE | UCR senior vice president who handles leasing of farmers market retail space, in a statement.
It sounds similar to Trinity Groves, the West Dallas development called a "restaurant incubator" because it gives young or new chefs opportunities to launch businesses. Unlike Trinity Groves, however, this building inside the Dallas Farmers Market will be smaller and will include established restaurateurs. And, it'll be a "food hall," as Valentino explains it: Customers enter the 26,000 square-foot warehouse and can go from shop to shop, sampling food.
The team that chose each tenant is especially proud of the mix of local businesses.
"We could have put a Starbucks in," Valentino says. Not here. "We took the time and did it the hard way," she says.
The Dallas Farmers Market is majority owned by DF Market Holdings LLC, who purchased most of the market from the city of Dallas in 2013. They remain in a partnership with the city, which still owns some of the land.
Anchoring the entrance to the revamped Dallas Farmers Market will be Mudhen, a standalone restaurant expected to open in January.
Mudhen comes from the restaurateurs behind beer bars Flying Saucer and seafood restaurants Flying Fish. Mudhen will sell good-for-you food such as grass-fed and hormone-free meats and in-season vegetables.
But "for those that yawn at the thought of healthy eating," says the website, "we also offer food that just tastes good, feels good, and won't kill you."
Barbecue joint Pecan Lodge, easily the most well-known former food vendor in the Dallas Farmers Market to date, moved out of the Farmers Market and into Deep Ellum in 2014.
The broad scope of the Farmers Market makeover -- which Mayor Mike Rawlings calls one of the city's "best ideas" -- includes The Shed, The Market, a new parking garage and an apartment complex with retail below it.
The entire project is expected to be finished in 2017.
Follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich for more food news.