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Any reliable, decent airport food?

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

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: fmed

        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

          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

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

            Thank you,

            Hunt

        2. 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

            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,

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              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

                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.

                Hunt

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                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. 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

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

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: JudiAU

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

                    1. re: JudiAU

                      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

                        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

                          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

                          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

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

                            1. re: westernmeadowlark

                              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.

                              http://www.vinovolo.com/locations.php

                              1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                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!

                                Hunt

                              2. re: pamf

                                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

                                  Plus, the KC airport is 25 miles from town.

                                  1. re: janetofreno

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                          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

                                      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.

                                      Hunt

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

                                      1. 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

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

                                          1. re: pamf

                                            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

                                              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.

                                              Hunt

                                          2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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. 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

                                              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. 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. 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

                                                  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!

                                                  Hunt

                                                2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                                          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

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

                                                            Hunt

                                                            1. re: Veggo

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

                                                              1. 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:

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677360

                                                                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. 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

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

                                                                    1. 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

                                                                        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. 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

                                                                          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...

                                                                          Hunt

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            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. 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. 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. 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

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

                                                                                    1. 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.

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

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                        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."