Discussion: Mall Food

On Friday, countless bargain hunters around these here United States will camp out outside of balmy freezing mall parking lots in hopes of being the first to snag the best deals on electronics, clothes, and any manner of “stuff.” You know the drill — it’s Black Friday, and while you’ll still be a good five or six hours away from digesting Thanksgiving dinner, the summons of saving cash and scoring gifts won’t keep you down.

I, fortunately, will not be amongst you. And while I’m not exactly heartbroken for missing the official kickoff to the holiday shopping bonanza, I will miss those pesky yet iconic mall food court scenes we’ve all run across. Whether it be the tempting stare and seducing aroma of an 800 calorie plus Cinnabon, or the jabbering “SAMPLE” pleas from orange chicken wielding workers at the Ruby Thai Kitchen, there seems to be fast food moments reserved only for malls. Where else, pray tell, can the dichotomy of the pretzel weaving Auntie Anne’s employee be paired next to the oily sheen atop a Sbarro pizza?

What are your favorite mall food court stops, and will you be heading out to hunt the deals on Black Friday?

45 comments on “Discussion: Mall Food

  1. Adam says:

    Also, mad points for whoever can identify the above food court.

  2. Jordan says:

    It’s hard to beat Sbarro Pizza when you in the food court if you don’t mind the extra calories. I will definitely have to stop by on Black Friday if there’s one on site and I won’t feel an ounce of guilt either because all the rush, stress, and shopping going on is sure to burn it off in a jiffy! :)

    • Nick says:

      I disagree. I think it’s very easy to beat Sbarro in terms of both quality and price. If you’re willing to save the pizza craving for another night–or until you get home–most solid pizzerias offer a large pie for the price of 3 sbarro slices.

    • TJ says:

      Their Stuffed pizza is ridiculous, both in how obviously terrible it is for you… but very delicious.

      Everything else there I’ve found to be decent, but not that great.

  3. nuttyturnip says:

    Hey, it’s the Mall in Columbia! One of the best mall food courts around, that place is.

  4. Chefprotoss says:

    Malls = hell on earth. If it wasn’t for the fact that my local mall has a great old school used video game store, I would never set foot in one. After the sbarro review, I have been thinking about reviewing great steak, which is across from it, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

    It’s not a mall, but the Borgatta in Atlantic City has the greatest food court ever. Tony Luke’s, Fatburger, Ben and Jerry’s… need I say more?

  5. Laffin says:

    My favorite mall food is hushpuppies – I think they are from Nathan’s. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a mall. I also like Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzels.

  6. Lisa says:

    I always get the chocolate fro yo at Haagen Daaz at my mall. MMM. But I dont bother with food on Black Friday. 2 words….BRING SNACKS.
    I have valuable shopping time that cannot be wasted on standing on line for 30 minutes only to find out when I get to the front of the line they ran out of what I want. *sigh*

  7. Jonathan says:

    Mall in Columbia, my stomping grounds! When I’m there, I usually just make a few sweeps and fill up on free samples, and the Bourbon Street place is pretty on point.

  8. Benjy says:

    The local malls here have been allowing more local businesses to set up shop inside, so the food quality and selection have drastically improved in recent years.

    Luckily, the wife prefers this ritzier mall that has a great pub/restaurant inside, so I can go sit down with a burger and a selection of 100 beers on tap while she shops.

  9. Meg says:

    Dude! Columbia Mall?! :)

    I dig that they’ve got a Chipotle now!

  10. Daveo says:

    There’s something about the chicken teriyaki a Sarku Japan that I love. It’s one of the only reasons I look forward to going to the mall. (Double meat 99 cents more!)

  11. Mattitude says:

    One point some 14 years ago, when Kenny Rogers Roasters was still around and still for some like me, good and smells like heaven

  12. Matt says:

    Maybe just a Cleveland thing but Sakkio Japan teriyaki chicken is great mall food.

    I was going to say chick fil a but that’s great anywhere food and I haven’t seen a Sakkio anywhere but a mall

  13. Matt says:

    Great minds daveo…Sakkio=sarku

  14. Allokago says:

    Taco Bell. We don’t have one in the city I live in, the closest one is at the nearest mall, about 40 minutes away. It’s my gotta eat there, since I only get it at the mall. It’s a small place, so there’s not many appealing places to begin with.

  15. Chefprotoss says:

    Roms aren’t really my bag. It is a sweet little system though. I have been meaning to get a fc moble, but I’m pretty sure it would just sit on my shelf.

    Please tell me you have some SNK fighter roms for that thing. =)

  16. Griffin says:

    Wish a mall remotely close had a Chipotle …. I would open one of those little store carts and sell those little flying RC helicopters just to get my fix everyday….

  17. M86 says:

    Orange Julius! Brings back childhood memories every time I get one… and they’re tasty!

  18. Nick says:

    Sbarro’s is killer if you tell them to make you a fresh whole pizza well done. It’s like $15 for the whole thing instead of $4 for a slice. Good meatballs too.

    There’s another clone system (forget the name), but it plays, NES, Genesis, and SNES. Those consoles are just emulators in a box basically though too. At least get MAME. That plays all of the arcade games. You even have to set up a button to put in a quarter.

  19. SkippyMom says:

    We don’t shop at the mall for the holidays – it is too much of a madhouse and the other shoppers are so rude. The poor clerks – they look like inmates and take such abuse. We like our local Mom & Pops or shopping on line.

    Now, when [off season] we have to venture to the mall for say…a ball gown or team equipment our favorite food court staples are “Frank & Stein”, “Auntie Ems” and “Sbarros” – the pizza is huge and cheesy – and the guys are always so nice.

  20. Shannon says:

    The mall close to me has a chinese place that serves an awesome bourbon chicken. There is also a Quiznos in my mall. I go there once and a while to get a sandwich. There use to be a burger king but the Quiznos replaced it.

    • Mark says:

      The mall by me also has a Chinese place with great bourbon chicken at a good price too. It also has a Chik-Fil-A, a Subway, a pizza place, some county fair hot dogs place, a salad place, and a taco casa.

    • Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

      Around here, we have Kato’s Cajun serving up the mall-food Bourbon chicken. It is owned by Sarku Japan. It always hits the spot.

  21. Lindsay says:

    They have some real crappy places to eat in mall in Iowa!

    Here are some food places I’ve seen. Not all crappy, mind you:

    1. Subway – popular choice
    2. Tasty Spuds – huge baked potatoes and other potato items like skins
    3. Maid-Rite – ridiculously overprice for what it is.
    4. Birdsall’s Ice Cream – I think that’s a Northern Iowa thing.
    5. Taco John’s – I love Taco Bravos!
    6. Sbarro – so-so pizza.
    7. A bunch of Chinese places – all with different names like Panda Chinese or Golden Chinese.
    8. A&W – yummy chili dogs
    9. Chick-Fil-A – great chicken sammies, so-so waffle fries.

  22. HolyFruits says:

    Well, my food court has the usual “bystanders”, which includes Chick-Fil-A, Subway, McDonalds, Sbarros etc., but it also has a locally-owned salad restaurant, and a locally-owned asian restaurant. I will say that the food quality isn’t as good at the food court McDonalds. A lot of the time, the grilled chicken would come out dry, and the fries are soggy, compared to the freestanding McD’s down the street, where the Chicken is juicy, and the fries are crispy. Out of curiosity, Adam, is the quality at the McDonalds in your food court crappy too?

  23. Raiders757 says:

    I’m an old fart at 41 years of age, so I avoid the mall as best I can. It’s been ages since I ate in their food court. Sadly the only Chipolte near me is in our local mall, and pretty much the reason I have yet to try the much praised burrito joint.

    I’m of the age where I remember when going to the mall meant one of my favorite things. Chic-fil-A. I lived in a time when the mall was the only place you could enjoy their tasty goodness, so it was easily one of the biggest treats for me as a kid. This was a time when Hickory Farms even had a year round store in our malls. Both would offer samples in front of their stores, and it was fun for me to see how many times I could walk by and score a tasty bite. Back then, Chic-fil-A was the food of the Gods for a kid like me. It was a treat that came few and far between. Back then, our parents didn’t take us to fast food places very often. We were all lucky if we got McDonald’s or BK two times a month, so Chic-fil-A was like a religious experience for many of us. They weren’t as prominent as the other chains back then. If you weren’t going to the mall, you were screwed.

    Fast forward to today, and I can still claim it’s my favorite mall food, but now we have Chic-fil-A’s all over the place. I guess they will still remain king of the food court for me. That is, possibly until I try Chipolte. Who knows. I’ve heard good things about the place.

  24. Aaron says:

    The only place I eat in the mall is Charley’s. Or is it O-Charley’s? I get them confused. The one that makes steak sandwiches in the mall!

  25. Rob says:

    Plenty of people already nailed it, but it is definitely Columbia Mall in Howard County Maryland. I couldn’t agree more that the food court options are top notch including Chipotle, Five Guys, Arbys and Chick-fil-a just to name a few…

  26. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    I usually don’t eat at our mall’s food court, because there around at least 100 (literally) restaurants around the mall parking lot and adjoining blocks. When I used to work at the mall, I occasionally ate at the food court. Here is how I’d rank ours:

    1. Fratello’s Restaurant & Brewery
    2. Kato’s Cajun
    3. Rocky Rococo’s Pizza
    4. Charley’s Grilled Subs
    5. Taco John’s
    6. Sarku Japan
    7. McDonald’s
    8. Panda Express
    9. Sbarro
    10. Subway

    Of course we also have Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Orange Julius, Teavana, Great American Cookie Company, Cold Stone Creamery, Paradise Island, Pretzelmaker, Auntie Anne’s, Target Archer Farms Cafe, and Macy’s Marketplace Deli for snacks/drinks/desserts.

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