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This Decision Was Based On Research

Here I am planning a short vacation to visit my sister in Florida. I live in So Calif and just about any airline will get me there but they all include a change of planes, and depending on the airline, I could end up in Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco or Dallas.

So, what do I find myself doing until the wee hours of the morning? Checking out the different airports and airline terminals to find out which eateries are available at my different options for a layover!! Dallas, Dickey’s BBQ but we have those in So Cal. Atlanta has a few promising choices. Wait, Denver, there’s a Paradise Café and I love Paradise Café. Guess I’m booking on United.

Huh? Have I gone off the deep end? I’m planning my travel around what I can eat?

What is the most outrageous/ridiculous/unusual thing you’ve done based on your food choices and preferences?

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  1. Isn't that how all of us 'hounds plan travel--around where we can eat? ;) I always read up and plan ahead to have the most delicious trip possible...and that is long before I even knew there was such a thing as Chowhound. Life's too short to have a bad meal--especially on vacation.

    I personally know NOT to fly into anything but O'Hare in Chicago because Midway is an airport that resembles an elementary school, not only in the way the building looks, but also with its crappy pizza like you used to get in grade school. Especially flying coast to coast with fewer in-air dining options, I'd be doing the same thing you are. Have a great trip!

    9 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Katty.... then maybe you can advise since O'Hare is one of the hubs... would I find "real" Chicago pizza at the airport? That might be worth the extra 2 hours flight time since the fare is the same!

      1. re: janetms383

        I'm not sure about "real" Chicago pizza, but I kind of doubt it. I used to work with someone based in Chicago who sent me a Lou Malnati's pizza mail-order as a Christmas present. I checked the LM site and didn't see an airport outlet. Seems like a missed opportunity on O'Hare's part, but I can only tell you NOT to fly through Midway unless you bring your own food. Given the usual offerings at any airport, I'm thrilled to find Chili's (of all places!) vs. the usual suspects! So if you can find halfway decent chow minus two hours, I would go for it, sister. ;)

        1. re: janetms383

          Since the little asian lady in the American wing dies a few years back the food choices at ORD have been weak. Jfood normally gets a chicken at Pucks.

          1. re: janetms383

            You know what, though, Janet? In O'Hare is a branch of the original "chizbooga, chizbooga" place, Billy Goat's Tavern, that Mike Royko celebrated. And it is CHEAP, particularly for an airport.

            1. re: janetms383

              No Chicago-style pizza worth eating at the airports.

              And as a warning, the Uno chain pizza at O'Hare and in other parts of the country.offers no resemblence to "real" chicago deep dish pizza. There is an Uno and a Due in Chicago that actually invented deep dish pizza in the 40s, but the Uno chain and the Uno frozen pizza are bad joke. If you've had it and concluded that you don't like Chicago-style pizza, come to town, try the real deal and decide again.

            2. re: kattyeyes

              As a Chicagoan, I have to disagree. While O'Hare has a Wolfgang Pucks (it's a fancy name for less bad fast food) and a Burghoff in Terminal one, it is basically a wasteland of fast Chinese, burgers and plastic boxed chicken Ceaser salads.

              Midway, on the other hand, features some decent local offerings. It has Potbelly's, a great local sub chain, well worth eating. There's also a Harry Carey's (named for the legendary sportscaster), a Gold Coast Dogs (good hot dogs and ...), and a Lalo's Mexican. Now if you adjust for the fast that the menus are all limited by space and time, the options are MUCH better than those at O'Hare.

              1. re: chicgail

                Did Midway undergo a renovation in the past several years? Because what I remember was walking down a hall in a building with painted cement blocks that looked like my elementary school and very basic cafeteria-like offerings of crappy pizza and pretzels like they used to serve at the roller skating rink. Something radical must have changed since we flew through in '01 (?) 'cause what you're describing sounds a whole lot better than anything we found back then.

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  Midway underwent a major renovation of its terminals and parking facilities a few years ago and is a much nicer airport to travel through. There's a pretty good food court. I actually don't mind flying out of there. The offerings include Greek, barbecue ad deli, all from decent Chicago institutions.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    I'm glad to know this--I had crossed Midway off my travel list based on our prior experience (is it possible we went through some sort of temporary facility while the renovations were underway?). Sounds like a much better option now...and local offerings--esp. Greek--would be a nice change from the usual airport fare. Thanks for setting the record straight.

            3. Huh, and I thought I was the only one that does this. Glad to hear I'm not alone!

              1 Reply
              1. re: grouper

                I think in "the real world" we'd be alone, but on Chowhound, we are all in good company!

              2. I recently posted a query for recs on an Albany/Schenectady thread regarding an overnight there on the way to NH. I’ll stay in either city depending on the better restos. (So far, I think it might be Schenectady.)

                1. Go through Istanbul. You can get a BK Whopper for $14.

                  1. If you do O'Hare go for a longer layover rather than a short one as you can get on the Blue Line El (train) right in the terminal and be downtown in 30 minutes. Eat wherever you like, then take the train back. But I would not try this with less than a 4-hour layover and would prefer 5 or 6 hours. Monroe stop puts you on Dearborn a block from Soprafina, which has good pizza, and one block away on State you can pick up some Garrett's Caramel Corn, another local article of faith.

                    1. I would plan around delays...not food. Check out www.avoiddelays.com to see what airports are the worst and what times are the worst to fly into them. I would avoid SFO...it's the #1 delayed departure airport and the #2 delayed arrival airport.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rizzo0904

                        I'm shocked. What kind of attitude is that for a Chowhound!

                        1. re: janetms383

                          As a pilot I've been to many, many airports and never found any food worth being delayed for.

                          1. re: rizzo0904

                            Thanks for the link. I've been looking for a site per the suggestion of a friend.

                      2. You should add Houston to your list of possibilities (Continental Airlines). There is apparently decent BBQ as well as Louisiana food to be had there. Here is a link to a previous thread


                        Of course Continental is about the only airline that still feeds you during the flight, but whatever it is you can probably pass it up without missing much.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: johnb

                          right........I'd forgotten about Houston!!

                        2. In regard to your last question, inn case you aren't already aware of it, here is a link to one of Chowhound's all time classic posts, very much germane to your OP.


                          1 Reply
                          1. I made my husband venture into a very shaky section of Paris to go to Julia Child's favorite restaurant. It was shuttered and gone. He was remarkably nice about it (even after he tripped over a car guard post because the streets where pitch black).

                            I have traveled down many a back road and circuitous path and have literally bushwacked my way to places reported to serve something delicious. I also, sometimes will plan a cross country route and time stops to hit a roadside diner at the right time. My husband is on to me.

                            Most outrageous? I forced my sister to round up all the YES! bars she could find while she was traveling in Austria, put them in a box and send them to me. Then I would not share. It is a sickness.

                            1. Yep, I am going to Africa this fall and airport food, transportation to better food if it is a long layover and now thanks to this post, delay statistics are all factoring into my choices. Looking forward to food takes an edge off travel anxiety. BTW, DFW has a Popeye's Chicken.

                              1. Living in Florida, I find myself being forced into the kafkaesque offerings of Hartsfield International (Atlanta).

                                Don't do it.

                                And yes, foodies love to plan trips around food. My car is rated in Meals Per Gallon.