Irvine is about to get a cool new food hall

Irvine is known for its chain restaurants, a good UC school, clean wide highways and planned housing communities. But a new food hall called Trade, scheduled to open later this summer, may turn the city into a real food destination.

Developed by the Lincoln Property Company, Trade is located a block from John Wayne Airport on Michelson Drive. It’s surrounded by industrial buildings and a Serbian Orthodox church, in the middle of an existing shopping center that currently has a Subway and a Domino’s Pizza. This is not where you’d expect to find a new food hall devoted to independent vendors making tacos, fried chicken and banh mi sandwiches.

“We were seeing the demographics of the area change and we wanted to do something Irvine really hasn’t seen before,” said Parke Miller, senior vice president of the Lincoln Property Company. “This is the first food hall that will be in a centralized residential and business district.”

Trade will have nine food vendors, with a bar that sits in the middle of the space. Andrew Gruel, the founder and executive chef of Slapfish, the food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurants, has already signed on to lease a space. Gruel will be making different variations of chicken at one of the stalls.

Also on board are Mark Cruz and Kevin Nguyen, co-founders of GD Bro Burgers in Santa Ana (also a restaurant that started as a food truck), known for its burgers and milkshakes. Hop Phan and Viet Tran of the Dos Chinos Vietnamese-Mexican fusion food truck have also signed on as one of the vendors; and Mi Ho from the Sandwich Society, a small sandwich shop in Santa Ana making banh mi, Cubans and patty melts, will also have a stand.


The stalls will be outfitted with hoods and prep tables, allowing the chefs to bring in their own equipment and easily change concepts if needed.

The Lincoln Property Company has also secured two full-service restaurants to anchor the existing shopping center, including Ootoro Sushi, a location of the Walnut sushi restaurant known for its omakase and long lines. There will also be an outlet of Krisp Fresh Living, the Newport Beach restaurant that serves smoothies and acai bowls.

Trade’s bar area will service all of the vendors, and diners can order drinks at the bar and take them to any tables in the food hall. There will be a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, with trees inside and an open air trellis.

“We’re also going for more experiential retail that fit the profile of the food hall,” said Miller, who announced plans for a men’s salon in the center as well.

Trade is scheduled to open in September. Ootoro Sushi will open in July.

Food trucks are my jam. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @Jenn_Harris_.


Where to find aushak, Afghanistan’s chive-filled dumplings

The Cannibal Beer & Butcher, where you can find a $320 rib-eye in Culver City

Head to Restaurant Marin in Costa Mesa for giant English muffins and chicken pot pie