Matt LeMond opens the enormous accordion windows of The Insider food hall, and a soft breeze rolls in from Dauphin Street. One block west is the corner where the drink wizard made a name for himself as the brains behind O’Daly’s Irish Pub, Dauphin Street Blues Company, Draft Picks Tap Room and POST Crafted Cocktails & Wine Bar. But today he’s unveiling his and business partner Jake Peavy’s newest creation — an open food hall complete with five local vendors, all working under the same roof but with their own kitchens and counter space. Built out by Chris Alves at CNA Construction, the food hall is the first of its kind in Mobile and represents an exciting leap for Downtown’s dining scene.
“I didn’t invent the food hall concept,” LeMond, above, says, noting that the trend is on fire in major cities across the country. “But I just kind of fell in love with it.” In his quest to design the perfect collective eatery for Mobile, LeMond visited about 50 food halls across the country, meeting with managers, developers and architects. His doggedness paid off; with the help of Katie Kirby Interiors, who also designed POST, LeMond has created a bright, inviting space with slick finishes — a welcome overhaul of a long-vacant storefront, the former home of Key Loan Furniture.
“It’s not quite what you would expect to see in Mobile,” he says. “We wanted to give it that big-city feel.”
The true magic of the entire concept is the variety of dining options it provides under one roof, ensuring a family’s every appetite is satisfied. To this end, LeMond has selected local vendors offering a range of cuisines: south of the border fare at P.S. Taco Company, burgers at Hammered Cow, everything yard bird at Chicken District, fried hand pies at Arabelle, and the ultimate fusion food at Poke Bowl Sushi Burrito. A sixth vendor spot is occupied by Double Tap, a bar managed by LeMond.
“This is a foot-in-the-door concept,” LeMond says. “For a lot of aspiring restaurateurs, opening up a brick-and-mortar Downtown can be scary — and expensive. My goal is that these vendors can incubate themselves and eventually move into other vacant buildings Downtown. To me, that’s a success story.” Opening in conjunction with The Insider is The Outsider, an adjacent 28-TV sports bar accessible from the food hall and Cedar Street Social Club. Consider it another feather in LeMond’s Dauphin Street cap: “I’m excited to connect the dots on another block that hasn’t been developed.”
On the Menu
Hammered Cow – “Our Way” Burger
You can build your own burger at Hammered Cow, but why not leave it to the experts? This classic burger is built with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and their special hammer sauce.
Chicken District – The District Sandwich & Loaded Fries
This signature sandwich features a fried chicken thigh with mustard, coleslaw and pickles. If waffle fries on the side don’t do the trick, try the loaded waffles fries, complete with queso, bacon, ranch, sour cream, black olives and jalapenos.
Arabelle – Caribbean Cochon de lait
Of all of Sheridan Hinton’s coastal-inspired fare, don’t miss the fried hand pies. This snack-on-the-go features shredded pork cooked down in coconut milk and jazzed up with Caribbean spices.
P.S. Taco Company – Three Taco Plate
Build your own taco plate alongside your choice of Mexican corn, basmati rice or black beans. Pictured on the opposite page, from left to right, is the Belly of the Beast, the Backwoods Hawaiian and the Seasoned Ground Beef taco.
The Insider • 518 Dauphin St. theinsiderfoodhall.com
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. M & W, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Th – Sa, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Su, closed Tu