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Best airport for a layover? (Food-wise) [moved from Ontario board]

I have to say O'Hare. I really enjoyed my meal at Wolfgang Puck in the American Terminal. Also, they have some good coffee at Corner Cafe.

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  1. ohmygod, I would say OHare is the worst! For an airport that does so many transfers, the food is terrible. What did you eat at WP that was tasty? Maybe I'll trek over to the AA terminal more often. The one in the United Terminal is a**

    My favourite hub airport is Charlotte NC airport. Great margaritas and pretty decent BBQ. Kansas City has Arthur Bryants and Memphis has interstate BBQ but they aren't really hub airports.

    is it a sign of too much travel that occasional I crave the BBQ chicken fingers at LaGuardia?

    4 Replies
    1. re: orangewasabi

      Charlotte is a nice airport (the atrium is really cool), but I haven't seen anything other than fast food there. I think the worst is Cinci.

      I enjoyed the pizza at WP, and they had some good beers on tap.

      1. re: puds_companion

        I noticed a BBQ-Southern cooking place in amongst the fast-foods last time I was at Charlotte. Didn't try it, but a lot of those dishes are ok on steam tables. Anybody eaten there (is that what you were remembering, orangewasabi?)?

        1. re: Aromatherapy

          yes, it's a fast food place, more or less behind the winebar/piano - the name escapes me. It's not Arthur Bryant's original location or anything but it's really good when the alternatives are Burger King or Sesame Stick Mix - I have the pulled pork when I am there.

          1. re: Aromatherapy

            I've had the barbecue in Charlotte (across from a sandwich/salad deli, right?). It was, to my great surprise, actually very good. Fatty meat and artery clogging as all get-out, but that's what you want in a barbecue.

      2. D/N/T Heathrow.

        Not just some of the finest fare London has to offer, but delicious cuisine from all over. If you get an opportunity, enjoy a pub meal at The Tin Goose, a nice African meal at Giraffe (if you don't mind all the kids), or grab a sandwich/wrap to go from Pret.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DSan

          How about a tin of Persian caviar and a cuban cigar! Ain't getting that here!!!! Second the nomination!!!

        2. Domestic (United States): SFO
          International: Changi

          7 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            what do you recommend at the SFO airport?

            if we are going to do international, then I'll throw props to San Paolo for great airport food

            1. re: orangewasabi

              You can udon and japanese at Tomakazu (spelling?), as well as good sushi at Ebisu and Osho. Also dim sum at Harbor Village. There's also a decent Mexican joint, but the name escapes me right now.

              The problem with SFO is that I hardly ever fly into or out of that airport. Any time I have to be in the Bay Area it's usually through Oakland -- less traffic, no fog, no delays.

              Your turn ... whats good at Sau Paolo (I presume you meant Sau Paolo and not San Paolo in Italy, right?)? I have a aunt in Brazil I've been meaning to visit for a while now.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Thanks for the tips on SFO (those are going in the BB right away).

                yes, I meant Sau/Sao Paolo in Brazil.

                I wish I had better names . . . my portuguese is non - existent. But. . .

                Find the store that sells coffee pots (there is only one) and they have a huge collection of stove top pots. Stand in the doorway and turn around. The food place right across from it has great hot plates with those fantastic cheese puff balls and grilled steak for breakfast, with amazing coffee. Actually the United, VASP and Varig lounges all have good cheese puff balls (there is a name for these things, I am just blanking on it). Outside where the pick up area is, there is a great cart fruit stand -- crazy good fruit, and stuff like cashew fruit juice.

                1. re: orangewasabi

                  I find the food in all of the airports in Brasil to be uniformly bad! And the thing about Sao Paolo (where I also have relatives), is the hour or two hour drive between the two airports to make international-domestic connections--usually no time to eat even if you wanted to.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Is there a Harbor Village at the SFO domestic terminal? Only one I know is in the international terminal (or did you mean that the entire airport was domestic)? In any case, reports on HV in international recently (including my own) have been disappointing...

                  I think that Yankee Pier in the United domestic terminal at SFO is decent.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    When I was referring to SFO as "domestic" I meant that it was an airport located in the domestic United States.

                    Whereas Changi is an international airport located outside of the U.S. (i.e. in Singapore).

                    Sorry for the mixup.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                Definitely Chiangi for international. Good call!

                Narita also has some fine offerings (really nice ramen and a fast, great--but pricey--sushi place in terminal 1).

                Domestic? Hmmmm. Can't think of anyplace I'd recommend. Anymore it seems to be all wall-to-wall S'bux, McD's, and Puck pizza places

              3. I would say the Hong Kong International Airport. There's a whole range of food there, from fast food to full sit down restaurants. Off the top of my head I think there are 10 real restaurants and 15-20 "faster" food choices. The best part is prices are the same as in the city, no mark up!

                Definitely not LAX. I was there last weekend and the available food was sad. I was almost tempted to pick up some McDonalds... until I noticed they were charging $9+ for an extra value meal.

                1. At the SF Airport I have eaten a number of times at Tomokazu. One of the employees is Chef from 14th and Minna. If you are familiar with SF cooking lore then you know about his interesting travels in the D-League and PAC-10. Not to mention his time in Cabo and Maui. His Samoan sidekick Talufa works nearby, so he says. Not sure where.

                  If you are familiar with him you may recall he owns Bobby Brown's Mercedes(yes that Bobby Brown).

                  1. they have wolfgang puck in every major airport - i think (denver, lax, ohare. . .).

                    i like seattle. they have some really good chowder places and other fish soup dishes.

                    international - the old bangkok airport had a great thai cafeteria with thai style airport prices (i.e., $1 beers, $.50 pad thais, etc.) . i haven't been to the new bangkok airport.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dtud

                      The new Bangkok airport seems to have a limited set of expensive Thai franchises that repeat as you walk along the new endless mall.

                      Miami has the one Latino restaurant (with the place in front with a great sandwich Cubano) and good sushi at the hotel snack bar. Bogota international actually has a food court where you can get a few good things. Heathrow has a couple or real pubs!

                      Mexico City, Managua, Panama, Guatemala (also no restrooms), Lima, Sao Paolo and elsewhere in Brasil, are wastelands.

                    2. Keeping in mind that I've been in very few airports:

                      Newark (if only because of Cereality)

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: piccola

                        I hate to be so negative...but I REALLY hated Newark's food choices (only have flown in/out via Alaska). But I do have to agree... out of all the Starbuck's carts, etc, etc... Cereality was decent, although some of the mixes were odd. Good concept overall.

                        Dtud - Thanks for the Seattle props!

                        I'd have to second or third Heathrow. I also found McCarran (Vegas) to have a good food choice - Prickly Pear Cafe.

                        1. re: luvsseattle

                          I'll fourth or fifth Heathrow! And I HATE Sea/Tac. Ick.

                          O'hare isn't bad.

                          Actually heading to Pearson (TO) soon, anything good there??

                          1. re: starlady

                            Pearson is bad -- none of the terminals have good food. We were overjoyed to get a Starbucks, that's how bad it is. You can try the local coffee chain there -- Tim Horton's. Personally, I hate it but it's a Canadian thing.

                            1. re: starlady

                              Why do you hate Sea/Tac? at least it is pleasant with the room with those huge windows, and there are some decent choices.

                              CDG is indeed pathetic. However, the worst airport for food choices where I have had to endure a long layover was Aukland, New Zealand! Some US fast food chain (I think it was Burger King) was the highlight of a three hour layover....I asked a local in line if there was anything else and he sighed, shook his head, and said, 'no..isn't it embarrasing'...

                            2. re: luvsseattle

                              No worries - I have a cereal fixation, and Newark is the only place I can indulge to that extent. The rest of the options suck. :)

                          2. I don't know which American Terminal you were in at O'Hare...the one I was in not too long ago (March) had Chili's and McDonald's and that was literally it...and the line for Chili's (the only place where you could get a real drink) was quite long!

                            Charlotte does have ok food in my experience...and its a pleasant terminal in general. The BarBQ place is in the area between the B and C terminals I think (or is it A and B?) just past security. Not great but decent. Haven't tried the margaritas as someone suggested...but will do so....I travel to Charlotte three or four times a year.

                            Portland, Oregon has good food....mostly all local Oregon vendors and decent prices. DFW wins my prize for most improved.....the last few times I've been there I've noticed a number of new, interesting looking places...of course, I always seem to have connections that are so quick I never have time to eat. The good news is that Dickey's BarBQ, which has been very hit or miss the last few years, was much improved my last time there (about a month ago). Tasty, tender ribs and good side dishes.

                            Worst airports for food? Well, Atlanta has to be up there. For such a big hub there is NOTHING...and people can smoke in what there is. (There are supposedly non-smoking sections but they aren't well-patrolled...and if you want to watch football, you'll have to be in smoking...). And, perhaps surprisingly, Charles DeGaulle was a big disappointment. I hate to say it, but I think the food on the Air France airplanes was better than the food in the airport cafe....and at the international terminals I was in there was generally only one cafe per terminal....

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: janetofreno

                              And a PS to my own post: Someone mentioned Las Vegas???????? Surely you jest?? I don't know this Prickly Pear Cafe you mention, but clearly its nowhere near the Southwest terminals where I spend my time (and Vegas IS the airport I am most likely to change planes in during my frequent air travel). I don't know how I could have left Vegas off my personal "worst" list....not only is the food bad, but it has to be the dirtiest airport I've ever been in...making appetite even worse. I think its disgraceful for a town that relies so much on tourism.....

                              1. re: janetofreno

                                Nah the only terminal I am in in O'Hare is one unless in international. Usually find a good cocktail nad a decent bite there.

                                1. re: janetofreno

                                  I'll second the don't waste your time and look around in Vegas, Dirty is the truth and if you like hot dogs than maybe you will be impressed LOL, at least they had a Starbucks.

                                2. re: janetofreno

                                  Thank you for the tip on Dallas -- I am heading there next week for the first time in a while.

                                  Second your Atlanta vote -- I have been reduced to eating hotdogs there.

                                  1. re: janetofreno

                                    Is CDG always bad? or is it just the construction now? I can't remember ever looking for food there other than my most recent trip -- usually I am carrying 2-3 mixte on me for the voyage so I have never looked for food IN the airport.

                                    1. re: orangewasabi

                                      Not under construction. Nothing good anywhere.

                                  2. Well, I had a crabcake sandwich at a restaurant in BWI that was so good I almost missed my flight. I don't recall the name of the restaurant, but it was a branch of a "real" Baltimore restaurant of the same name (according to the menu).

                                    Agree with others that LAX is dismal. McDonalds is the best food available. Wish I were kidding.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: HPLsauce

                                      LAX international has a few places that are relatively good--especially compared to, as janeto freno mentioned, places like Charles de Gualle.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Such as?

                                        LAX varies quite a bit by terminal, unfortunately, but I've not had good luck there. The place in the Jetson like building in the Center (blanking on the name) is currently closed.

                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                          The one decent place at LAX, that is also a sort of a novelty, is Eaturna.


                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                            Its the terminal from which flights to Asia leave. There are a few fast food Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, and more. Nothing special, but better than nothing--which is the norm in many airports. There is also a sports bar where I ate some plate of cheesy meat and taco chips with Jalapenos. OK, maybe bad to all of you...but I only pass through the US on my way elsewhere.

                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            This is where I almost draw a blank. I've been to many airports mentioned on this thread alone (none in South America). Fried pickles(!) and BBQ at Charlotte, Tokyo goodies, Heathrow, yes, Hong Kong, Changi, of course... etc.etc. My previous profession also called for lots of travel.

                                            There's something about airports - it's hard for me to keep straight where I had what, with only a few exceptions.

                                            Anyway, I felt like defending Charles de Gaulle a little bit. Yes, it's dirty and smoky. But I have a particularly sweet memory of travelling with mom. We ended up liking a place with good brasserie fare. We nursed a nice (really cheap) glass of wine and tasty goat cheese salad (shrimp salad for mom) in a comfy corner seat (it felt like a lounge, not cafeteria) while looking at airplanes and luggage trucks. I remember mom remarking how nice it was to have some time for "real food" before departure.

                                          3. re: HPLsauce

                                            The restaurant at BWI could be Legal Seafoods (which is actually not just a Baltimore restaurant but a chain). My recollection is that they have a branch at BWI. Food is hit or miss IMO.

                                          4. What do you all think of Boston? I had good crabcakes there -- but I am a inland chick and might have lower standards than you all.

                                            Also, is there anything good in Denver? That place is so spread out.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                              Boston's good, there's Legal Sea Food there!

                                            2. Although there are not many connecting flights out of the Austin airport, there are only local food places available (no chains allowed). If you ever visit Austin, and really everyone should, grab a Salt Lick BBQ sandwich and Amy's ice cream to eat on the planeride home. SO much better than the little bag of nuts.
                                              And, the place with the great Cuban sandwich in the Miami airport is Versailles. I have to fly through there is June and I am already excited about getting one.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: adewaal

                                                The Auntie Anne's pretzel shop and the Schlotzky's in Austin's terminal make me think that maybe there's no hard and fast rule about national chains there. Most of the local joints--Mangia pizza, Waterloo Ice House, and the Salt Lick--are chains, too, albeit local.

                                                As to the choice of restaurants, I've been more satisfied with Harlon's barbecue than with the Salt Lick when I've decided to eat before my flight. It is a testament to the region that such a small airport can support two barbecue places. Unfortunately the great barbecue names serve only from the smoker, so we're stuck with the second tier at the airport. For those who have been too busy to visit a smokehouse, though, both Harlon's and the Salt Lick are a nice last chance to get a hint of what barbecue can be.

                                              2. Any airport with a Legal Sea Foods (Boston and Ronald Reagan are the 2 that I know about) does the trick for me. Good fish, chowder and raw bar.

                                                1. Internationally, I remember really liking the Tokyo airport for food. The American-style breakfasts are dreadful, but you can get very palatable nori-wrapped ume rice balls pretty much anywhere. And there was this really great french fry place right next to a really great mochi place, too. Wish I could pass on names, but it's been almost a year...

                                                  On a related note: I have to say that KLM serves some great airline food (and I don't even like Dutch food, normally).

                                                  As for US airports... hmm... well the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport has some good smoothie stands, the Charlotte, NC airport has good barbecue (as discussed above), and .... oh... usually I just end up opting for a liquid meal since it's much harder to screw up a whiskey on the rocks.

                                                  1. at IAD (dulles) there's a great wine shop in the D terminal with excellent selections and decent food.

                                                    1. MSP - Minneapolis/St. Paul. It has undergone some recent renovations with the addition of some quite good local chains and enterprises.
                                                      French Meadow - organic foods and home baked breads make for some great breakfasts and sandwiches
                                                      Ike's - an old-line 40's steak and chop house with some great food and a wonderful bar.
                                                      Axel's Woodfire - another local chain of hot sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas, etc.
                                                      D'Amico Brothers - just opened a sit-down Italian resto; these people are a local equivalent to Wolfgang with a mix of signature sit-down restos that are among the tops in MSP and some chains of quite good sandwich joints. The resto at the airport is sit-down.

                                                      They also have some of the better national chains including a Wolfgang and a Cuervo Tequilera, which I think is a vastly underrated airport food option, and a Maui Tacos and a quirky little noodle house called Zyng.

                                                      Then again there are the average to dreadful chains - Rock Bottom Brewery, TGIFridays, California Pizza Kitchen, fast food.

                                                      1. Best:
                                                        -Cincinnati (if only for the chili on spaghetti I used to get when flying through there on the way to/from college... I don't know if the place is even there anymore)
                                                        -San Antonio

                                                        -Houston Hobby (no good options, and even those close early so relatively early in the evening your stuck in a hell-hole airport with nothing but bags of nuts from the gift shop)
                                                        -Lisbon (they have lots of stores in the airport, but very few restaurants)
                                                        -Terminal 2 in Frankfurt; they have a mediocre food court (though German McDonald's is much better than American McDonald's) in the main hall, but once you get through security your choices are limited to a coffee bar and one restaurant.
                                                        -Las Vegas (I agree with previous posts that good food options are lacking, and the facility itself leaves much to be desired)

                                                        Chicago isn't among my best or worst list (at least for food options - for travel it is definitely on my worst list), but there are only two places I will eat in the place are the Fox Sports Bar (decent burger) and Billy Goat Tavern.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                          I'd love to hear your recommendations for Denver

                                                          1. re: orangewasabi

                                                            It has been a while, and I don't remember the name but it was a local restaurant/beer spot. Denver also got points from me for sheer variety/selection of restaurants; the more to chose from, the better chance I'll find something tolerable. My husband prefers good food but can eat anything when he is hungry, whereas even if starving I can't stomach the MSG, greasy Chinese food and soggy sandwiches you find in so many airports.

                                                            The food in airports is an especially important given that airlines spend 30% less on food today than they did in 1999. The amount per passenger (I don't know if this is domestic only or also counts international, where you do actually get food even in the way-way-back of the plane) spent on food in 2006 was $3.38, down from an almost whopping $6 in 1992. (Data courtesy of WSJ.)

                                                          2. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                            In Cincy airport, are you referring to Skyline chili? There was one on campus in Lexington when I was young, and I kinda miss that chili, excepting the time someone new made it and didn't know to drain the fat, ewww. I used to get it with cheese and oyster crackers, mmmm, and remember it as a little sweet and spicy.

                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                              I think it was Skyline. They served it over pasta, and it was a spicy/sweet pile of yumminess! The first time I flew through I got a kids portion to go, and once I started eating it wished I had enough time to go back and get a "real" portion.

                                                          3. My two worst airports are Pearson in Toronto and the airport in San Salvador, El Salvador. The ES airport was an interesting place- incredibly high-end stores selling items that cost hundreds of dollars, yet no restaurants and only a few sandwich vendors.

                                                            1. If it's a LONG layover than nothing can beat New York City. From La Guardia you can grab a cab or bus to Astoria for Greek, Brazilian or Moroccan chow, or to Jackson Heights for Thai or Colombian or Burmese. Ditto for JFK though it's a longer ride. I think there's a nearby nabe which has markets catering to Indian immigrants from the Caribbean. Roti, anyone? And from Newark, you can check out the many Portuguese restos in the Ironbound section.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Brian S

                                                                In the US the one Airport that stands out is SFO...after recent renovations......all the other airports are more or less the same old thing...generic....Detroit was the worst I have been to.......world wide...Heathrow has some good food....Caviar House is my favorite....Sao Paulo.....bad food wise....just came back form from it....