THE LOOP — Block Thirty Seven on State Street doesn't have a food court yet.
But for two weeks in December, the shopping center in the heart of the Loop will house an all-star lineup of Chicago restaurants and food producers.
The Nosh, a weekly food festival, will take up residence inside the mall at 108 N. State St. during lunchtime Dec. 3-6 and Dec. 9-13.
Fifteen restaurants and two food trucks will set up booths from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on those days in the lobby area on the Dearborn Street side — directly across from the outdoor Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza, now in its 18th year — and in a second-floor area just off the escalators. Expected vendors include Bang Bang Pie Shop, Bento Box, Dia de los Tamales and Passion House Coffee Roasters.
The Dec. 6 event will be a walk-around affair from 6-9 p.m. with food from restaurants ranging from the takeout barbecue shack Smalls and the hot spot Mott St. to Travelle, the luxe restaurant in the Langham Hotel.
The daytime market on Dec. 7 will be more product-focused, with pastry chefs, spice merchants and others selling their condiments, pastries, chocolates and more. It will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission to each day of the Tasting Table Open Market is $5. There is no fee to nosh at the Nosh.
Aaron Gadiel, marketing manager of Block Thirty Seven and self-described foodie, called the markets a "two-week food experience," part of a longer-term plan to boost the presence of what's long been considered one the city's most visible — and controversial — retail projects.
"There's something about food that brings people together in a really nice way. Both events fit what we want to do," said Gadiel.
There is an area in the mall that's built for a food court, but Gadiel declined to comment on plans for it, saying only, "We're working on all kinds of stuff here. Food's big. Food brings people in. So I think anything we can do to encourage more food in the building, that's great."
The Tasting Table Open Market is the first in a traveling event series, editor Heather Sperling said. Similar markets will take place in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2014, with a second planned for Chicago in December of next year.
For some vendors, the markets at Block Thirty Seven will serve as launching pad. Chef Mark Steuer of the Bedford will cook with ingredients from his new G&C Pantry Co. product line at the Dec. 6 Tasting Table event, Sperling said.
Chef Theo Gilbert, who closed his Wicker Park restaurant Starland last weekend, has promised a new meatball-centric concept for the Nosh, said Nosh creator Alan Kannof.
The Nosh debuted this summer in Wicker Park. It moved indoors for the winter, to 2755 N. Milwaukee Ave., in conjunction with the Sunday Logan Square Farmers Market. More satellite Nosh markets that would run for several weekends in a row are in the works for other neighborhoods, Kannof said.