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Any reliable, decent airport food?

jnwall Aug 30, 2012 06:00 AM

Occasionally, I have to eat in an airport. I try to avoid the Mickey D's, etc, but I have trouble finding anything that I don't hate myself for after the first bite.

My latest disappointment was a Wolfgang Puck in Toronto, where the pizza was truly awful.Any thoughts?

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  1. Perilagu Khan RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 06:53 AM

    Best airport food I ever had was at the Reata in DFW.

    1. fmed RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 07:51 AM

      At YVR (Vancouver BC) JapaDog has set up a stall in one of the foodcourts.

      3 Replies
      1. re: fmed
        singlemalt RE: fmed Aug 30, 2012 07:55 AM

        When the new airport was built in Austin, the people who pull the strings made a rule that only local food vendors could set up shop in the new airport. Consequently, we have some pretty good grub in our airport, BBQ, TexMex,etc.

        1. re: singlemalt
          FoodPopulist RE: singlemalt Aug 30, 2012 12:34 PM

          I admit to not being enthusiastic about boarding a plane where a significant number of passengers have dined on chili or burritos while waiting.

          1. re: singlemalt
            Bill Hunt RE: singlemalt Sep 21, 2012 08:47 PM

            Heading to AUS late next week, and will check this out.

            Thank you,


        2. JungMann RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 08:02 AM

          Airports are usually abominable, but Rick Bayless' Tortas Frontera at O'Hare is an unusually bright spot. I try to always fly out of that concourse whenever I'm there. At every other airport, I usually lean towards regional fast food. At Hartsfield-Jackson it's Chick-Fil-A or Krystal's. At Reagan or LaGuardia, I turn to Five Guys. In most other cases I'll pack something if I'm flying around meal time. Not a bad way to prolong the memory of happy travels.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JungMann
            Bill Hunt RE: JungMann Sep 21, 2012 08:48 PM

            For the Bayless restaurant, which concourse at ORD?

            As we fly UAL most often, we are usually out on C-Concourse, and I do not recall seeing this one.

            Thank you,


            1. re: Bill Hunt
              JungMann RE: Bill Hunt Sep 22, 2012 12:53 PM

              Even if I didn't have my miles on American, I think I'd still fly out of Concourse K just for the tortas. The website says there's one in Terminal 1, Concourse B as well.

              1. re: JungMann
                Bill Hunt RE: JungMann Sep 23, 2012 06:52 PM

                You know, depending on the layover, it might be worth a jaunt.

                I feel the same way about LHR, as Gordon Ramsay is in the BA terminal.


              2. re: Bill Hunt
                masha RE: Bill Hunt Oct 7, 2012 01:32 PM

                There is a Torta Frontera on concourse B of the United Terminal (Terminal 1) at O'Hare -- right next door to McDonalds. Frankly, the one time that I ate there, which was for breakfast, I was very disappointed. The coffee was excellent but the torta was mediocre in my view. Also be warned that it takes about 10 minutes for your food, as it is cooked to order, which would be fine if you are not in a hurry (I was not) and it was worth waiting for. Also, the seating area has piped in salsa music played at a high volume, which might be fine later in the day but was a bit much for my taste at 7:30 am.

            2. c
              chetatkinsdiet RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 08:46 AM

              Patachou is solid in the Indy Airport. Don't know what they did to totally murder Shapiro's though.

              San Diego has a Rubio's though the trick is not to get the fish tacos but instead to get the reliably decent quesadilla.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chetatkinsdiet
                RealMenJulienne RE: chetatkinsdiet Aug 30, 2012 12:35 PM

                Indianapolis also has King David Dogs. A huge all beef natural casing dog that's as good as you can get anywhere. That's about it though.

                I had some excellent pizza slices from a kiosk at the airport in Jersey. Don't remember the exact place but then again it's Jersey... you could probably pick any random pizza place and it would be good.

                1. re: chetatkinsdiet
                  pikawicca RE: chetatkinsdiet Aug 30, 2012 12:58 PM

                  Patachou at the airport is dreadful.

                2. j
                  JudiAU RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 11:12 AM

                  San Francisco (SFO) has a lot of great options. LAX does not

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: JudiAU
                    FoodPopulist RE: JudiAU Aug 30, 2012 12:37 PM

                    I've been fine with eating the food at LAX's international terminal.

                    1. re: JudiAU
                      pamf RE: JudiAU Aug 30, 2012 12:52 PM

                      A lot of the food vendors at SFO are inside security, so your choices are limited by what airline/terminal you are using. There is a food court with good choices, that is outside security (anyone can access it), in the International Terminal.

                      My favorite airport for food choices is Seattle-Tacoma. Big food court, right inside the single security entrance. There are fast choices and also a nice full service, sit-down restaurant, Anthony's Seafood.

                      Portland is a smaller airport, but has some interesting choices like Rogue Ale House.

                      Minneapolis has some good spots. I like Ike's.

                      Kansas City is the worst.

                      1. re: pamf
                        Samalicious RE: pamf Aug 30, 2012 01:00 PM

                        You are right, Kansas City is abysmal. A new Kansas City Royals-themed restaurant opened just recently. I hope it's better than the team.

                        1. re: Samalicious
                          SnowCat RE: Samalicious Aug 30, 2012 01:54 PM

                          Top of the Crown Grill is over-priced for average food. Personal size flatbread pepperoni pizza was $10 and I think the hot dog was $6.50.

                        2. re: pamf
                          sueatmo RE: pamf Sep 2, 2012 04:00 PM

                          Agreed, I hate, hate, hate the KC airport, including its food.

                          There is a decent breakfast place at PDX just past the security gates. Just keep walking straight ahead, past the arrivals/departures display, and there it is. Next door to a Starbucks.

                          But what I've eaten at airports is mostly forgettable at best.

                          1. re: pamf
                            westernmeadowlark RE: pamf Sep 3, 2012 09:41 AM

                            i love the little wine bar at SeaTac! great for nervous fliers...

                            1. re: westernmeadowlark
                              pamf RE: westernmeadowlark Sep 3, 2012 01:48 PM

                              If you are talking about Vino Volo, you can find those in several other airports too. Sea-Tac also has a newer wine bar that is outside security.


                              1. re: westernmeadowlark
                                Bill Hunt RE: westernmeadowlark Sep 21, 2012 08:53 PM

                                We often do UAL RCC's (United Club now), and their SEA location had the best wines, anywhere on Earth. I used them as an example, and campaigned to UAL for about 10 years. Finally, the RCC's did add "Premium Wines," but within about 6 mos., they merged with Continental, and as they had "house wines" in the clubs, UAL adopted that. Still, and I question the bartenders everywhere, UAL still sells quite a lot of "premium wine," and they pour about 50% of the "free stuff." SEA really got me started!


                              2. re: pamf
                                janetofreno RE: pamf Sep 3, 2012 09:46 AM

                                Not only is Kansas City food horrible, but the configuration of the gates is awful too. I once had to leave security just to go to the restroom!!!! (and the only food available that night was also outside of security...so a 90 minute layover became problematic as to whether there would be time to eat....)

                                1. re: janetofreno
                                  Veggo RE: janetofreno Sep 3, 2012 09:56 AM

                                  Plus, the KC airport is 25 miles from town.

                                  1. re: janetofreno
                                    sueatmo RE: janetofreno Sep 3, 2012 11:42 AM

                                    The food within the SW terminal is Quick Trip type of fast food, although there is a vending machine for Wolfgang Puck stuff, if memory serves. Going outside of the terminal to find a real restaurant is a worthless exercise, because the food outside is not good. Getting back into the terminal is not hard, and only takes a few minutes. At least it did for use several years ago.

                                    SW uses KC as a hub. A poorer choice I cannot imagine. Not enough food choices, not enough restrooms, poor marking of gates--I could go on and on. I don't like a long layover there. The food is too hard to procure, and it isn't worth procuring.

                                    1. re: janetofreno
                                      pamf RE: janetofreno Sep 3, 2012 01:46 PM

                                      My particular grudge, last time I was there they closed all food operations at 7pm. Our flight which was supposed to leave before 7pm was delayed coming in so everyone had to sit and wait for 2 hours with no services. Then there was the time when there was a tornado warning.

                                      I think the restrooms are mostly outside security too. Although that might have been modified in recent years. The airport just has an unfortunate design, which was not easy to adapt for post-911 security requirements.

                                      1. re: pamf
                                        sueatmo RE: pamf Sep 3, 2012 03:51 PM

                                        True. It has an unfortunate design that came before 9/11.

                                        There are restrooms in the SW terminal, but they are inadequate.

                                        No food after 7 pm? That's nuts.

                                        1. re: pamf
                                          alliegator RE: pamf Jun 12, 2013 08:46 AM

                                          The last time I was in Memphis (I'd arrived there after a long trip from Europe and connecting to Atlanta) this was also the case. And no food meant no drinks. This was in 2006, when they took cash only on the plane for snacks and drinks, and I had no US currency. The lone ATM? Empty. I wanted to smack someone!

                                    2. re: JudiAU
                                      Bill Hunt RE: JudiAU Sep 21, 2012 08:49 PM

                                      I agree with you. At SFO, we have had many great meals, at different times of the day, at Yankee Pier. At LAX, well we nibble at the United RCC, or International FC lounge, and let it go.


                                    3. r
                                      redfish62 RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 12:46 PM

                                      I like Quiznos at the airport, pretty much the same sandwich you get outside the airport.

                                      1. f
                                        FriedClamFanatic RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 01:00 PM

                                        Philly has some decent choices, especially between Concourse B and C.all after security. The legal Seafood there continues to get good marks and may even be better than some of the non-airport locations of the chain.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                          pamf RE: FriedClamFanatic Aug 30, 2012 01:30 PM

                                          Yes, Legal Seafood, is in Boston too. I think there are two locations in different terminals.

                                          1. re: pamf
                                            LulusMom RE: pamf Aug 30, 2012 01:53 PM

                                            Legal Seafood was always my favorite at DC National, but they closed it a few years ago. I can't figure out why - it was always busy. Dulles is surprisingly bad, given how many flights go in and out there.

                                            London Heathrow has both EAT and Pret a Manger at Terminal 3. Yes, they are chains, but they are pretty high quality with good choices (healthy, tasty stuff). I always get something for the plane and am always happy that I did when I see what they're serving everyone else.

                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                              Bill Hunt RE: LulusMom Sep 21, 2012 08:55 PM

                                              LHR has added Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food, but that is in the BA terminal, and we almost always fly UAL, so have not tried it yet.


                                          2. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                            LulusMom RE: FriedClamFanatic Jun 12, 2013 12:38 PM

                                            Oooh, we'll be in Philly airport this weekend. We're flying USAir overseas - do you know if that will be in Concourse B or C? I'd love to do a lega seafood stop.

                                            [edit] Just checked the Philly airport website and it looks like I'll be in the A concourse. Pffft.

                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                              FriedClamFanatic RE: LulusMom Jun 12, 2013 04:00 PM

                                              It's a walk to B/C...but not bad...and Legal Seafood would be on the "near" end.........all of it inside security......I think you'll enjoy

                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                                LulusMom RE: FriedClamFanatic Jun 13, 2013 02:50 AM

                                                I do love Legal. But i'm going to be with a 7 year old ... not sure how much walking she'll be interested in doing, but I'll see what I can convince her to do.

                                          3. f
                                            FriedClamFanatic RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 01:06 PM

                                            Outside security in Miami....and otherwise abysmal airport, there is a hotel on the 5 th floor I think that has a wonderful restaurant. Get there at 11:45, you will have the place virtually to yourself. At 12:02, almost every seat is taken............by the folks who work at the airport! The folks waiting on them seem to know to bring "to-go" boxes all around since the 2nd half of lunch goes home for dinner. At 1:05, there is peace in the valley (skies?) once again. Have no idea what dinner time is like, but we make it a point to eat there on our trips back from the Islands, after clearing Customs and before re-entering secure areas.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                              susancinsf RE: FriedClamFanatic Sep 3, 2012 01:34 PM

                                              yes, I've also had good experiences eating there. It wasn't crowded the two times I've been, but I don't remember the times. Good food, nice service.

                                            2. l
                                              laliz RE: jnwall Aug 30, 2012 02:03 PM

                                              wherever there is a CPK (I know there is at LAX and in St. Louis Airport) I get the Smashed Dakota Pea Soup and I love it.

                                              1. a
                                                alepenazzi RE: jnwall Sep 1, 2012 10:10 AM

                                                Plane Food by Gordon Ramsay inside London Heathrow Terminal 5... Hands down the best food I've ever had in an airport...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: alepenazzi
                                                  Bill Hunt RE: alepenazzi Sep 21, 2012 08:56 PM

                                                  We need to fly BA, and not UAL, as I have heard similar.

                                                  In the UAL terminal, the International First "nibbles" are about as good as it gets!


                                                2. t
                                                  tardigrade RE: jnwall Sep 1, 2012 08:20 PM

                                                  SFO has some decent places in the United terminal: some local restaurants have outlets there (although I'm still a bit peeved with Andale for closing their branch near me. They do decent California-Mexican). Rich Bayliss has a small place at O'Hare terminal B (last time I tried they hadn't grasped that people going on a transcontinental flight might want to purchase a lunch item at 9AM to eat later). I had a very good salad once in Philadelphia but can't remember the name of the place. Buffalo has a place that does an OK beef-on-weck, but like everything else in that airport they close well before the last flights come in.

                                                  1. Bada Bing RE: jnwall Sep 2, 2012 02:30 PM

                                                    Best I've ever had was at Venice, Italy. I found a wine bar there with a big selection of foods in display. Fresh porcinis with mozzarella, garlic and olive oil, anyone? And not even marked up over street price so highly as in the USA.

                                                    In the USA, I find Seattle and Minneapolis to be the best of those that I frequent. Detroit has some good spots. Sorry I don't recall the names.

                                                    1. bards4 RE: jnwall Sep 2, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                      My husband loves the sushi restaurant near gate 34 in the Tokyo Narita airport - Sushi Kyotatsu. Stops by there every time he's in Japan. I'm fond of the selections in the Austin Bergstrom airport -- love The Salt Lick!

                                                      1. Veggo RE: jnwall Sep 2, 2012 04:43 PM

                                                        The Denver airport has decent grub, but if you want a little whiskey buzz before you board your flight you need to mortgage your ranch beforehand.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                          cresyd RE: Veggo Sep 3, 2012 05:12 AM

                                                          For a cheap whiskey buzz, Dublin's Duty Free store has to be the best option. I used to have to take morning flights out of Dublin regularly, and the amount of whiskey samples given away in the Dublin airport Duty Free always amazed me.

                                                          1. re: Veggo
                                                            Bill Hunt RE: Veggo Sep 21, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                            We like Pour La France, out in the Concourse B Food Court. One of the better examples, that we have encountered.


                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              juliejulez RE: Veggo Jun 12, 2013 08:39 PM

                                                              They just opened an Elway's at DIA like, this week. I'm sure it'll require the mortgage too but their menu sounds good... Colorado lamb! Steaks and Seafood too. They'll have "cheaper" take-out options also. It's in Concourse B.

                                                            2. Duppie RE: jnwall Sep 3, 2012 05:51 AM

                                                              I truly look forward to layovers in Hong Kong and Seoul.

                                                              1. susancinsf RE: jnwall Sep 3, 2012 01:35 PM

                                                                flying out of Terminal Four at PHX about a week ago, I was quite surprised to see a branch of Barrio Cafe (past security). This local Phoenix Mexican place has gotten mostly good reports to raves from Chowhounds, at their original branch, although I was not the greatest fan:


                                                                but it was the airport, and we were hungry, so we decided to try it. It was pricey but decent if not great (the enchiladas once again were in an overly sweet sauce). Still, I'd call it reliable and better than decent. Solid Mexican food made using high quality ingredients (if a bit too much sugar). Even at the airport location, they make guacamole tableside, and while we didn't try it, it certainly looked good. The margaritas were nice.

                                                                1. Delucacheesemonger RE: jnwall Sep 3, 2012 01:46 PM

                                                                  Only one l can think of now is the Popeye's in Hartsfield in Atlanta, terminal B. Been family run and owned forever. Everything is fresh, hot and the people are very helpful and friendly.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                    Dfost62 RE: Delucacheesemonger Sep 22, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                                    Like the food court at Chicago midway. The Mexican place is good and there are a couple places to get Chicago style hot dogs. Phillips at BWI is pretty good. Better crab cake than you get in 90% of the restaurants outside of Maryland.

                                                                  2. grampart RE: jnwall Sep 22, 2012 01:14 PM

                                                                    Locals here actually choose to dine at the airport. Sunday brunch is very popular. http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/308/12919...

                                                                    1. m
                                                                      Meann RE: jnwall Sep 22, 2012 01:56 PM

                                                                      There's a place in Heathrow, terminal 5, where you can get smoked salmon and rose champagne by the glass. Never felt so worldly in my life.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Meann
                                                                        LulusMom RE: Meann Jun 12, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                                        That chain is in a lot of European airports. I love it. Some smoked salmon and champagne is a very civilized way to start home. I know Terminal ... gosh, whatever American flies out of to the US at Heathrow also has it, and there is one in Brussels.

                                                                      2. buttertart RE: jnwall Sep 23, 2012 08:46 AM

                                                                        Yankee Pier (despite its name, a local outfit) at SFO served us exemplary shrimp Louis and lobster roll this last trip.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: buttertart Sep 23, 2012 06:55 PM

                                                                          We have dined there many, many times, and we are so glad that they are there. Going back a bit, there was another good restaurant, up from Yankee Pier, and on the other side of them, and the TSA entrance. Cannot recall the name now, but think that it became a bookstore, after the last redo.

                                                                          Especially if we are overnighting out in Burlingame, we just head to the airport early, and do breakfast at Yankee Pier. Fair wine list too, but we normally reserve that for our later meals...


                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                            susancinsf RE: buttertart Oct 7, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                                            I've had breakfast or an early lunch at Yankee Pier several times when I've had to drive in from Merced for an afternoon flight out of SFO, and agree that it is a good option (though if time weren't a factor there are lots of places near SFO to consider as well.) In season, I recommend the Dungeness Louie.

                                                                            Edited to add: I was wracking my brain trying to remember the other restaurant Hunt refers to, until I re-read his post, and yes it is a bookstore now.

                                                                            When we are flying out of Oakland and get there early, I am grateful that there are now more options than before...none are excellent, but a few are decent, notably the branch of Otaez (Mexican) in the food court near gate 25 in Terminal 2 (Southwest, past security).

                                                                          2. n
                                                                            northwest9999 RE: jnwall Sep 23, 2012 07:17 PM

                                                                            Kansas City is my home airport and I fly about 45 weeks a year for business. The food there is horrible indeed and the worst part about it is that the airport nor the city seems to care enough to improve it. They are just content enough with the way it is. By the way, all gates now have restrooms and food kiosks (however poor they might be) inside security.....just not enough of either.

                                                                            1. j
                                                                              jeanmarieok RE: jnwall Jun 12, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                                              In the Pittsburgh airport, Michael Simon's place, Bar Symon, has been very good. I usually get the chicken sandwich on grilled bread with avocado. It's really good - I want one now!

                                                                              Vino Volo in Newark is good, too. I like their small plates.

                                                                              1. e
                                                                                escondido123 RE: jnwall Jun 12, 2013 04:33 PM

                                                                                I now consider air travel my excuse for eating high calorie, processed food so I head right to McDonalds for a Big Mac, fries and a chocolate shake. Of course I rarely travel.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: escondido123
                                                                                  Bada Bing RE: escondido123 Jun 12, 2013 04:36 PM

                                                                                  I have the same philosophy when I take the 10-hour drive from Indiana to NY. Just stop at McDonald's--but I get the regular (small) burgers, because they're easier eating while driving. I try to keep moving as much as possible.

                                                                                2. c oliver RE: jnwall Jun 12, 2013 05:06 PM

                                                                                  Newark has a Grand Central Oyster Bar which I intend to check out when we have a layover there many months from now.

                                                                                  1. Charles Yu RE: jnwall Jun 12, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                                                    Looks like an 'overlap'?!
                                                                                    Here's the latest post:

                                                                                    1. b
                                                                                      BuildingMyBento RE: jnwall Jun 12, 2013 05:38 PM

                                                                                      If you're ever at GMP (Seoul Gimpo), I think by the international departures area pre-security, they have a nice humble-looking Korean food court. That's the best food find I've made at an airport since buying trays of baklava at BEY (Beirut).

                                                                                      In the US, nowhere looks pleasant. If you have a couple of hours in LA, there's an In 'n' Out close by LAX, but I wish more US (or any) airports had supermarkets like some in Europe do.

                                                                                      http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/ http://collaterallettuce.com/

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento
                                                                                        c oliver RE: BuildingMyBento Jun 12, 2013 06:26 PM

                                                                                        The last time we flew out of SFO a few months ago we had a really nice lunch at Buena Vista Cafe. I think it might be overreaching to say "In the US, nowhere looks pleasant."

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