Table of Contents
Food halls take many forms these days, but international destination Le Fantome brings something new to the table. The all-day marketplace in Prince George’s County combines top chef (and Top Chef) talent with up-and-coming businesses—all available through three dine-in stalls, six ghost kitchens, and a full-service bar. The 83-seat venture and 24-person patio opened Monday at The Station at Riverdale Park.
City-hopping chef Akhtar Nawab—who’s behind Alta Calidad in New York, Otra Vez in New Orleans, and DC’s Bar Chinoise—teamed up with Cafritz Enterprises and a long roster of chefs and makers for the project. The three dine-in vendors include chef Esther Choi’s first Mökbar location outside her Korean collective in New York; Top Chef alum Kevin Sbraga’s hot fried chicken spot, Sonny & Sons; and Horu Sushi from veteran chef Chin “Steve” Liang.
The food hall is outfitted with QR codes and signage so patrons can also order from any of the six ghost kitchens for dine-in, carryout, or delivery. Diners can choose from options like Nigerian fare from Dayo’s Kitchen, noodles from Laoban Dumplings, and tacos from Brooklyn-based Alta Calidad Taqueria.
The overall design—more food offerings and fewer disparate stalls thanks to the ghost kitchens—is meant to feel like a unified eatery. Brass fixtures, subway tiles, and green accents conjure a French brasserie. The full-service bar will pour a mix of local and global drinks that reflects the food, including brews from neighboring Denizens and creative concoctions such as a riff on an espresso martini with sherry and rum—plus daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m.
“We like the idea that it keeps the energy high, like a big restaurant. Sometimes big food halls lose that intimate environment,” says Nawab. “We’re able to really demonstrate a lot of diversity, and we can help grow a first or second business [for our partners].
Here’s what to look for at Le Fantome.
New York-based chef Esther Choi is branching out from NYC for the first time with a fourth location of her casual Korean concept. Look for made-to-order noodle and rice bowls, stuffed bulgogi buns, Korean chicken katsu curry, and crabby shrimp ramen.
Sonny & Sons
Top Chef ’s Kevin Sbraga—winner of the DC-based Season 7—is back in town, and he’s bringing hot chicken. Diners can order from a Southern-leaning menu of crispy chicken platters and sandwiches (served mild to searing), classic French beignets, old-fashioned cake doughnuts, and waffle fries. Also: sauces!
After bringing over-the-top sushi bar creations to Dallas and Nashville, chef Chin “Steve” Liang has expanded to Riverdale. This isn’t your typically sashimi bar—tuna towers, tempura-fried bacon-and-crab rolls, poke bowls, and crispy shrimp maki with Nashville-hot aioli are on tap alongside more traditional finds.
Alta Calidad Taqueria
The food hall spinoff of Akhtar Nawab’s Brooklyn-based Mexican restaurant serves a lineup of made-to-order tacos, burritos, nachos, and snacks like corn esquites and yucca fries.
New York-based Indian specialty foods company Rajbhog Foods is behind this casual option. Chaats and riffs on Indian-American bar snacks are good for grazing alongside quick-grab eats like kathi rolls and Indian bowls. For dessert: Indian sweets from the owner’s 40-year-old shop in Queens.
Riverdale diners know chef/owner Ekundayo “Dayo” Ayeni from her popular neighborhood farmer’s market stall and catering business. The ghost kitchen serves Nigerian comfort fare—sometimes with a Caribbean twist—including a variety of meat and vegetable stews, jollof rice, and iyan ado (pounded yam).
Henry “Brandon” Williams’s Shaw seafood restaurant has spawned a new carryout at Le Fantome. The specialty is the same: sustainably sourced, wild-caught fish and shellfish inspired by Williams’s Prince George’s County upbringing. On the plate: Maryland crab burgers, fried fish sandwiches, platters, and sides.
Greek Aroma Mediterranean Grill
The longtime Frederick, Maryland neighborhood restaurant is bringing its gyros and souvlaki sandwiches to the ghost kitchen. Also look for Mediterranean dips, sides, and homemade baklava.
The latest outpost of chef Tim Ma and Patrick Coyne’s growing dumpling empire heads to La Fantome. Options may include veggie dumplings, pork soup dumplings, potstickers, and more.
Mr. Bake Sweets
Southern confectionist Kareem Queeman (a.k.a. “Mr. Bake”) specializes in nostalgic sweets: classic cupcakes, riffs on blondies and brownies, and banana pudding. The oft-changing lineup will also include vegan and gluten-free options.