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Which airport in the U.S. has the best food?

Both in terms of selection and quality.

*Exclusive members clubs (e.g. Delta VIP lounge) do not count.

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  1. The Northwest Airlines terminal in Detroit is new and has some excellent food (sushi, for example).

    I've always liked the selection of food at O'Hare -- great Chicago style hot dogs at the Artists' Cafe (I think that's what it is called), plus outputs of Billy Goat, Reggio's pizza, many others.

    I had an excellent pulled pork sandwich at the Bloomington-Normal (Illinois) airport.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Darren72

      Isn't airport and "best food" an oxymoron!

      1. re: theflytyr

        Not always. Honestly. The Chicago style dog at O'hare is not much different than what you'd get anywhere else in the city.

        1. re: Darren72

          Who sells the recommended hot dogs at O'Hare?

          1. re: Dave Feldman

            On Terminal 1, I've had the 2 hot dog/pizza carts with the big Vienna Beef sign on concourse C and they are OK. Forget Billy Goat in the food court, they have DIY condiments (onion, relish, mustard) and the bun was a bit dry. The one on the north end of B concourse (on your way to gates B19-B22) didn't have all the toppings.

            Gold Coast Dogs are at terminal 3 and 5(intl). I haven't tried these but the ones in the city are decent.

      2. re: Darren72

        I thought of the sushi in Detroit as well. Very tasty.

        1. re: Pylon

          I always stop at the Coney Island place in Detroit (these are what Detroiters call Chili Dogs). Utterly disgusting but utterly delicious. Oh, and have the chili cheese fries with the Cheeze Whiz sauce.

      3. Second on Chicago for the majors, I used to work at airports across the country and that was #1. The absolute best was Pizza Strada when it originally opened, fresh hot slices in triangular to go boxes that made everyone else on the plane jealous.

        Now I settle for a couple of hot dogs to go.

        1. At the Memphis airport you can get Corky's bbq, mmmmm.

          1. Had the best pina colada and the best cafe cubano at the Miami airport on a couple of visits.

            3 Replies
            1. re: leeds

              At La Carreta? The food is good, too. I had great roast pork, black beans,and plantains on the way out and that pressed Cuban sandwich with the ham and cheese and pickles (sorry, I'm blanking on what it's called) on the way home. We didn't have time to leave the airport so it was great to get delicious Cuban food right in the terminal.

              1. re: zorra

                I third Miami. Best Cubano I've ever had. Perfect, quintessential Cuban sandwich, Miami style! Mind you, this was a few years ago. Longer ago than the post I'm replying to, even.

                1. re: zorra

                  yep, I always grab a Cubano to go anytime I'm in Miami. It's not the best Cubano I've ever had but certainly better than anything I can get in NC

              2. It'd have to be O'Hare (both for the variety of 'local' food and for the fact that they're really low prices for an airport), Austin (the BBQ -- mmmmmm!) or Charlotte.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I'll give a nod to Austin also -- I was told by a cabbie there that the Salt Lick bbq place in the airport is excellent. Unfortunately my flight was really early in the morning the Salt Lick only had breakfast.

                    1. re: Darren72

                      I was just in Austin for the first time this weekend- ate at Amy's ice cream and Salt Lick, then went to the airport only to find them both there! I'd fly into Austin just for those.

                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Mmmmmm.....Saltlik......I moved to Calgary from Austin 2 years ago and I'm still in BBQ (& Mexican food) withdrawal.

                    3. Memphis, with outlets of both Corky's and one of the other barbecue giants (Interstate, maybe?), is the best I've seen.

                      My appreciation for this dwindled a tad when my seatmate pulled out the box of sauce-dripping ribs to share with his companions in other rows.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                        I have specifically routed Northwest flights via Memphis for the bbq. I prefer Interstate to Corky's.

                        http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                        1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                          Have not tried the MEM Corky's, but just did the BNA version. I was underwhelmed, but it could have been the location. Still, Nashville *should* know BBQ, and Corky's does have a corporate recipe. Still, not that good.

                          Hunt

                        2. Not that these places are any great shakes, but this Cincinnati chili lover was very happy to find a Goldstar Chili in the Cincinnati Airport. It ain't Skyline, but it's Cincinnati chili! I had some good bbq at Whitt's in Nashville.

                          1. I was once stuck in San Francisco airport for almost a day so got to sample lots of the food. There's a decent selection of sushi, good sandwiches and bakery items. I've had lots worse.

                            Boston is my local airport so I know it well. There is Legal Seafoods clam chowder which I like, also Greenfield Grill which makes decent panini - I've taken these on the plane with me for long flights.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: cheryl_h

                              We try to have a meal at Legal Seafood every time we come home via Boston. And if you can get to a Pasqua coffee outlet in San Francisco, they have very good coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries.

                              1. re: vanillagrrl

                                Pasqua? They were bought out by Starbucks and all the branches closed several years ago. Maybe you are thinking of Cafe Rulli?

                              2. re: cheryl_h

                                SFO aint the worst by far, i agree. nice salads there too. once got one with tofu, ginger dressing, daikon. very fresh.

                                harrys taproom at IAD isnt bad, either. (dc airport) in fact, their food in general isnt bad. havent tried the sushi place or the bakery at the B terminal but looks promising.

                                1. re: violet

                                  We were less than impressed by Harry's. Maybe we just ordered incorrectly. I'll look at their salads next week.

                                  I give the overall nod to SFO, but find that DEN has some good options, as well.

                                  Hunt

                              3. Seattle (SEATAC) has a branch of Anthony's seafood past the checkpoint. Most of the other food vendors are average to maybe not worth trying. Anthony's also has a side section for to-go, fish and chips. Really really good quality, for those wanting a last minute Seattle seafood sample. I'm sure the sit-down restaurant is fab too, but you'll need an hour to two to enjoy (and also wait for a table).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: K K

                                  I had a decent (not wonderful) breakfast at that Anthony's about a year ago, but yes, it is sllooow...I'd try the side section you mention instead. That said, I was back at SEATAC a few weeks ago, and was *Very* disappointed in the other options in the food court (I think they call it Intl Marketplace or some such?) where Anthony's is located. It is a beautiful space, with huge windows overlooking the runways, but the food options! We didn't have time for Anthony's and the side section was jammed, so we made the mistake of trying the Italian place....one bite and I understoood why the fast food place at the end (can't remember whether it was Burger King, Carl's Jr, Wendy's or what) had such a long line! So I'd say the other spots fall into your 'not worth trying' category. A shame...

                                  1. re: K K

                                    Did not have time for Anthony's, but I do have to say that SEA United Red Carpet Club has the best wine selecitons of all that I have been in. Even though they are not free, they beat LHR's International First RCC, where the French wines are free (they used to have better wines and a better selection). My hat is off to SEA and I always mention this in all UAL surveys. This is what the SFO International First lounge *could* be, if only someone cared.

                                    Gotta' try Anthony's on the next trip!

                                    Hunt

                                  2. Very good crab cake at BWI, since renovation. Interstate BBQ in Memphis; Authentic Mexican at Houston Hobby, near the ticketing area.

                                    1. its not sfo thats for sure!! isnt mccarran either!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: beer786

                                        Definitely not Oakland or Burbank either. Burbank has the one horrible restaurant in the A terminal and the even worse restaurant in the centre, and then Oakland is like this teleport into horrible food -- old, greasy, heatlamped Round Table Pizza and $9 Caesar salads that are the size of my fist.

                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                          Now that I live in SF, I dont fly out of Oakland as much as I used to, but if they still have the See's Candy and Black Muslim Bakery stands, those are the best options for a snack...

                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            They do, but there's nowhere to get a full meal. The burrito place in T1 is just horrible, too.

                                      2. Googled it and found a couple of interesting links.

                                        http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bluelist/...

                                        San Fran, Austin comes up tops on this one.

                                        I wouldn't consider Chik-Fil-A anything special, though they are decent in a pinch.
                                        Wolfgang Puck is really not bad. One of the better options I've come across.

                                        http://www.frommers.com/articles/2814...

                                        Philly, Memphis, El Paso come up tops here.

                                        1. There's a really great diner in the Continental terminal (Terminal C) of Newark Airport.

                                          Then again, they also have a Miami Subs, which sucks so bad it drags down the rating. . .

                                          I also enjoyed the La Carreta at MIA -- not like I need a cortadito while frustrated w/delays. :-P

                                          1. I like Round Table Pizza (or at least I used to when we lived in CA). You can't get them in TX.

                                            TT

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: TexasToast

                                              I don't have an issue with Round Table Pizza (which is a topic for the Chains board), but the branch in Terminal 2 of the Oakland Airport is terrible. Worst. Pizza. Ever.

                                            2. San Francisco 'International terminal'! My favourites have to be the two wonderful 'Chinese B-B-Q and noodles' eateries. Great B-B-Q duck and pork, Dim-Sums and all types of noodle soups with your choice of toppings in a tasty broth. Gorgeous food for the price. Also worth a mention is the Japanese restaurant. The sushi is surprisingly fresh and good for an airport establishment.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Another nod to the Japanese restaurant in the SFO Intl Terminal. Pretty good food and the price wasn't bad either. I just wish non-Intl travelers could get into that terminal to get some decent grub.

                                              2. I agree with Charles Yu that the SFO Intl terminal has some very good choices. The Mexican place isn't too bad either though I also would go for the Harbor Village Kitchen for noodles, dim sum...

                                                The other terminals have some good options as well; here is my post on Yankee Pier in the United domestic terminal:

                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                                My biggest disappointment lately has been LAX. Sigh. Each terminal's eateries are behind a separate security line and process, and security at the terminal I was at (American domestic) is soooo slow (and officious in a not good way: I took my laptop out of my carryon early in anticipation of having to do so at the detectors, and was refused passage by the person who stands before the detectors and checks IDs until I put it back, because she said I had more than two carry-ons, including the laptop!) So, basically, I did not want to have to go through that process again, but if I didn't, my choice was Chili's, and something worse that I've blocked from my memory....sigh...(I discovered that if the plane is an hour delayed and one is hungy, that a shot or two of tequilas at the Chilis bar, which has a surprisingly decent tequila selection, make their tortilla soup taste much better...)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                  The food in the Tom Bradley International Terminal is outside of security and not terrible. I'm partial to the Mexican place which is acceptable, but certainly no 'hounds' paradise. Good views of the apron from the rear area and of all the people milling about from the front balcony. It doesn't hold a candle to real food, but it's not a bad choice at LAX.

                                                2. There's great deli fare at Manny's at Midway Airport in Chicago

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: suebro

                                                    In general, the food at Chicago-Midway is a very good, and generally better than the options at O'Hare. The setup at Midway is such that nearly all travellers have convenient access to the various restaurants.

                                                    In addition to Manny's, a local cafeteria-deli that offers a wicked corned beef sandwich, there are quite a few excellent options.

                                                    Harry Carey's has a small outpost that serves an abbreviated upscale menu.

                                                    Pegusus has a small Greek menu that offers fresh salads, gyros, pasta and fruit salads as well as Greek pastries.

                                                    Miller's Pub, a Chicago institution has a small restaurant on the B Concourse.

                                                    Gold Coast Dogs serves it signature Chicago style hot dogs in the food court.

                                                    Lalo's, a south side institution has a varied Mexican menu in the food court.

                                                    There are also a dozen more fast food options including a Potbelly's Sub, McDonalds, Nuts on Clark, and a pizza place.

                                                  2. At National Airport outside DC, there's a sushi place and a McCormick & Schmick's (or is it Legal Seafoods)on the lower level by the C gates that actually do a pretty good job of making sure you forget you're in an airport- if you are deaf to the intercom and all the baggage everywhere, that is.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: redglass

                                                      Do NOT eat at the sushi place at National. After my last (and final) experience there about 6 months ago, I had a hard time getting the taste of old fish out of my mouth. Just gross.

                                                      The seafood place is Legal's, (http://www.legalseafoods.com/index.cf...) and, while I haven't been there, I suspect it's just like Legal's everywhere else, i.e. not bad for airport food.

                                                      1. re: DavisSquare

                                                        Really, you just need to know what to get at the sushi place at national... there are one or two things that are OK (salmon, tuna) and everything else is pretty bad. So don't get the "grab n go platter" or whatever it's called... the saba, ika, tako, etc are all bad.

                                                        However, if you order well you can do well at that place. They do pretty good japanese non-sushi food - tempura udon there was quite good, for instance.

                                                        And yeah, the Legal Seafood is just like Legal Seafoods everywhere else. But, considering you're in an airport, that makes the Legal Seafoods look pretty damn good.

                                                    2. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has Paschals. Usually when traveling I don't have enough time to sit and eat, but I will add some time in Atlanta so I can stop at Paschals and get my meat & 3. Fried chicken, candied yams, turnip greens, rice & black eyed peas. (OK, that's meat & 4, but I count the yams as dessert) Or in the morning, I'll grab a sausage biscuit or scrambled eggs & hash browns. The ladies there are super nice and they had 2 locations. One in the Atrium before going through security and another at Concourse B (I think!)

                                                      1. Best meal I've ever had at an airport was a BBQ place at DFW, Harlon's maybe? The Mexican place next door looked pretty good, too.

                                                        1. Portland has a good selection, AND a rule that a place at the airport can't charge more at the airport than they do anywhere else in town. Having once paid $9 for a two-bite hamburger at the Denver airport, just the burger, no sides, I think the Port of Portland's rule is awfully nice.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                            Good Dog Bad Dog in the Portland Airport! Nothing like a brat with sauerkraut for breakfast.

                                                          2. Shout out for MSP Lindbergh terminal (DL, NW, CO, AA, UA flights). Many terrific local places have a presence there:

                                                            Ike's Steak House
                                                            Axels Bonfire steaks, pizzas
                                                            D'Amico Italian
                                                            French Meadow organic homemade breads, sandwiches, great omelets.

                                                            Fortunately, more and more terminals are offering good local cuisine to counter the horrid chain food that has afflicted airport terminals for so long.

                                                            Also, there are some chains that seem to be targeting airports exclusively that are offering better fare, such at Tequileria Cuervo. Pretty decent Mexican style food if your other choices are limited.

                                                            And believe me, the best you're going to get in a VIP lounge is snacky noshie nidbits. In the World Club it's carrots, celery, Pepperidge Farm crackers and Tillamook cheese and pretzel party mix. In the DL Crown Rooms it's pretzel party mix. As the merger goes forward, the new DL Sky Clubs will revamp their food offerings, but still it'll only be snack food. It's redeeming grace is that it's "free".

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Loren3

                                                              Let me offer the WORST airport food in Canada: Toronto. Unusually ghastly selection of grossly overpriced mediocrities served by sullen staff in less than clean surroundings.

                                                            2. I have been impressed (Airport food "impressed") at both SFO and DEN. We're into and out of most major airports around the US and much of UK/Europe, and the rest just do not do it for us. With that, I must say that we have not tried all of the available spots, so many may just be unknown.

                                                              Going back some years, there was a Mexican/Burger grill in Terminal 2 at PHX, that was very good. It is gone, due to a complete remodel. Still, back when I was flying between DEN and PHX every week, it was above the rest - alas, no more.

                                                              Hunt

                                                              1. DFW Terminal D: Blue Bamboo, Cantina Laredo, Blue Mesa, Cool River Cafe,Railhead BBQ, Counsin's BBQ, Tigin -- basically, decent non-chain restaurants that have opened in the terminal. Plus your assortment of Popeyes, Auntie Anne's etc,