Gone are the days when you were lucky to get an old, soggy sandwich and stale potato chips at your local airport. Terminal operators realize that travelers wanted a better choice of food and beverage options. Thanks to the growth of the Food Network and the foodie craze, travelers are demanding better quality in what they eat at the airport and have shown they are willing to pay for it. Passengers who see themselves as foodies now have great gourmet options at airports across the country. Below are 11 great meals you can get at some of the nation's top airports.
I grew up in England, and I always loved eating a good Shepherd’s Pie. Firkin & Fox, located at Concourse A near Gate A3, offers a version that features simmered ground beef, with peas and carrots topped with whipped potatoes, along with a caesar salad.
One Flew South, located in Concourse E, features upscale southern food and sushi. I still dream about the BLT sandwich I ate there, which featured black truffle mayonnaise and yummy five-spice french fries. Don't forget to try one of their craft cocktails!
I was at this airport with a lot of time to kill. I made a beeline over to La Caretta, at Terminal D near Gate 37, where I indulged in its famous pork Cuban pressed sandwich, served with salty plantain chips. I also stopped by Cafe Versailles several times (with locations in the North and Central Terminals) for its famous Cuban coffee and empanadas.
Not only does Le Grand Comptoir offer world-class wines by the glass, it offers travelers a lovely oasis away from the masses. The Croque Monsieur, rich with gruyere cheese and bechamel sauce, is a foodie’s delight. There are locations in Terminals C and E, along with outlets at JFK Airport Terminal 4 and Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal C.
Hope for a delay so you can check out one of three outlets -- in Terminal 1, Concourse B, Gate B10; Terminal 3, Concourse K, Gate K4; Terminal 5, Concourse M, Gate M12 -- of “Top Chef Master” winner Chef Rick Bayless’s Tortas Frontera restaurant. He features authentic Mexican regional cuisine, and my personal favorite is the Cochinita Pibil braised pork torta sandwich. And you must get a side of the fully dressed guacamole and chips.
This facility has undergone a major upgrade, and that includes its food offerings. Across from the Dunkin Donuts in the main terminal hallway is Sky Canyon, an upscale Tex Mex restaurant that’s the brainchild of local Chef Stephan Pyles. I am a fool for a good ceviche, and the tasting of the tuna, salmon and shrimp options were wonderful.
Root Down, located in the center core of the Gate C, is the airport version of a local restaurant that features globally influenced seasonal cuisine using locally sourced food. I’m a burger girl, and the Banh Mi Turkey Burger with a side of fries is wonderful. Pair it with a Bloody Mary, whose mix is made in-house, and you’ll never want to leave the airport.
I can’t think of many airports outside of Spain that offer Spanish restaurants. Lucky for us the main hall in JetBlue’s flagship Terminal 5 is home to Piquillo, where you can get all your Spanish staples. Go for assorted tapas, including serrano ham croquetas, gambas al ajillo and the cured Spanish meat plate with serrano ham, dried sausage and tomato-rubbed bread.
I had the chance to do a tour of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which includes Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack sandwich outpost, located in the International Terminal Great Hall. The sandwiches are delicious and ridiculously low priced. I scored a wonderful pork bahn mi sandwich for a bargain $6.
If you didn’t get a chance to try out fresh Pacific Coast seafood while in Seattle, your last chance to do it is at the airport's outlet of local favorite Ivar’s Seafood. Go for the fish sandwich (it's NOT like a Filet-O-Fish) or the seafood chowder.
You were so busy in Albuquerque that you didn’t get a chance to sample its famous New Mexico cuisine. But lucky for you, there’s Tia Juanita’s in the airport’s pre-security area. The two must-eat items are the Green Chile Chicken Stew and the Green Chile Chicken Smothered Enchiladas, washed down with one of their signature margaritas.