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World's Top Airport Based Eateries [split from UK]

(Note: this thread was split from the UK board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9043... -- The Chowhound Team)

Interesting list of the world's top 31 airport-based eateries. Predictably, Gordon Ramsay's slickly-run Plane Food was on the list at #13.

There's one other British entry: Jamie Oliver's Union Jack's at Gatwick (#18).

Those I'd tried included:
#10 Legal Seafoods, Boston
#11 Pink's Hot Dogs, Los Angeles
#12 Brasserie Flo, Paris Charles de Gaulle
#19 Kim Choo at Singapore Changi airport
#27 Anthony's Fish Bar, Seattle

I'm surprised that Wolfgang Puck's at Denver airport didn't make the list. I quite enjoyed my rather calorie-laden meal there: New England clam chowder, roast chicken and Mac-n-cheese.

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  1. There's a Legal Seafoods at Philadelphia's airport, too. Hopefully, one day I'll get to try it. I have been to Anthony's in Seattle. Since Changi is almost always near the top for 'best' world airports, I'm wondering what the food situation is there. And you should know. :-)

    34 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      Changi Airport's dining choices are stupendous - it has more than 200 eateries that run the gamut from fine-dining Cantonese to Indian vegetarian restaurants & sushi bars, from Italian pizzerias to a whole "street" full of hawker stalls offering traditional Singaporean street foods. There's even a Hard Rock Cafe branch at the airport's Terminal 3 :-D

      Re: Newark, New Jersey airport - I remembered enjoying jerk chicken at a Jamaican eatery there. I also loved the fact that the service crew there were all-Jamaican, warm & friendly, spoke with their inimitable accent.

      I like Dulles' eating choices as well. But, IMO, the US airport with the "worst" choice of eateries was Phoenix, Arizona - passed through there 6 times or so, and *never* found anything good :-(

      Back to Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food at Heathrow T5 - it really is up there among the best.

      1. re: klyeoh

        Phoenix has unquestionably the most insipid food choices of any major airport. I think it's a branch of the penal system.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          Agreed. That's one reason I'm glad I live here. Check in, get on plane, and leave. No food needed.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            That is one of the reasons I'm glad Frontier finally opened a direct flight from Denver (where I live) to Fresno, CA (where I'm from). Before they did, I had to fly US Airways, and almost always had to fly through Phoenix. Awful.

            1. re: juliejulez

              I think I've only had layovers at PHX 2 or 3 times, but I do have to say, it is the strangest airport I've ever encountered. It has the least user friendly layout I could imagine, it's built smack in the middle of the city (wtf?), and if you're hungry, you're straight up screwed!

              1. re: alliegator

                Not to mention, coming from somewhere like Fresno you're on the small commuter planes, so you have to walk like what feels like 3 miles to get to where the "normal" planes are, usually with only like 30-40 minutes to spare. SFO is like that too.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  SFO has decent dim sum, so I'll put up with the hiking. The BART train into the city is a nice feature also. It used to be a $60 cab ride.

                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                    Yeah but if you only have 40 minutes to get to your connection on the other side of the airport, you won't have time to get dim sum :)

                    I spent the night at SFO because my flight from Chicago was delayed due to weather, and I missed the last connection home (to Fresno). That airport is not fun after hours, but I did appreciate that their seats do not have armrests, so you can lay down. The Las Vegas airport seats have armrests, so no laying down (yup, spent the night there too due to a similar issue).

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      That's why they have hotels. Seriously.

                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        Not everyone wants to or can afford that. Seriously.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Then help yourself to a nice big piece of floor. C'est la vie, non?

                        2. re: flavrmeistr

                          At the time I was pretty broke, and I wasn't about to spend $200 (the going rate at the hotels near the airport), and go through security all over again just to sleep in a bed for 4 hours.

                          As for sleeping on the floor, well, I suppose that's an option but I'd prefer to stay off the ground.

                          1. re: juliejulez

                            That's the right way to look at it: you have to be realistic about how it's all going to break down time-wise.

                      2. re: flavrmeistr

                        We're flying out of the international terminal tomorrow so maybe we'll check out the dim sum. Or not. We're spending tonight in the Mission so there will be plenty of options there. Just how "decent" is the dim sum at SFO?

                        1. re: c oliver

                          In the context of airport food, especially Chinese airport food, I'd say it's above average.

                      3. re: juliejulez

                        You must be coming into the C Concourse in Terminal 2, which is a bit of a walk, and is exposed with a chain-link fence around the walkway.


                      4. re: alliegator

                        Even though I seldom fly out of Terminal 3, or 4, if you have never flown into, or out of CDG, you have a real experience in front of you. PHX is easy, compared to CDG.

                        Good luck,


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          I am in agreement with that. PHX is definitely a difficult US airport, but CDG trumps it by far in terms of making one wonder "who the hell designed this train wreck?".
                          My least favorite international airport.

                          1. re: alliegator

                            The added beauty of CDG is that no one, who works there, knows where anything is.

                            First time we flew out, our driver dropped us off at Terminal 3 for a UAL flight, luckily, we had ~ 3 hours, as we were two terminals over, and even when we arrived, no one had ever heard of United Airlines, even with my wife's very good French.

                            We were just there, and were dropped off at the door of Terminal 1, but there were no signs anywhere. Finally, we found that the Hertz lady could tell us that they were in Hall 4. OK, now we know - Terminal 1, Hall 4 (all the way around Terminal 1, but not quite to the end).

                            So far, we have not had time to dine at CDG, and especially as Security is right at the gates, beyond all of the clubs, and most of the restaurants. Maybe next year?


                    2. re: flavrmeistr

                      The problem with the Phoenix airport is they have too many separate terminals. Terminal 3 is the Delta Terminal where I have passed through at least 16 times. The only easy food option is Wendy's or a place called Blue Burrito. We usually just stop at Wendy's because it's easier (I don't want a giant burrito just before getting onto a flight.)

                      1. re: John E.

                        Gosh, it has been maybe 10 years, since I flew into, or out of Terminal 3. I had almost forgotten that it was even there.

                        Now, the train has begun to run, so perhaps we'll ride it, just to see what is in Terminal 3.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          You won't be able to dine at the Blue Burrito or Wendy's unless you have a ticket. ; )

                          1. re: John E.

                            PHX has many (most?) of its restaurants beyond TSA, and I have not noticed that much, outside the ropes, but then do not fly out of Terminal 3 & 4 so often, and might well have just breezed past some good options?

                            The really good SW burger stand, in Terminal 2, WAS outside the ropes, but that was also pre-911.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul) now has excellent food options if you find yourself in our airport. There are severa restaurants that have opened in the airport that are run by local restaurant companies that have successful restaurants in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Andrew Zimmern of television fame has a sandwich shop at the airport. I have not yet tried any of these airport eateries. I usually time my outgoing flights so that I have just enough time to get through security and get to the gate. And of course on my return, I am not interested in stopping at any of the restaurants.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Is that Andrew Zimmern, who delights in eating scorpion tongues, bat eyes and warthog bottoms?

                                Somehow, that does not make me very hungry.

                                OTOH, wife has recently flown through MSP, and WAS impressed with the food, plus the shopping - she just did not dine at Zimmern's shop.


                    3. re: klyeoh

                      I've always found it difficult to eat at Changi. Too much southern Chinese, and not enough of anything else.
                      The nasty "Western" places in the basement of T3 mean I only ever get kaya toast and Indonesian kue at SIN.

                      At least there's the food court and supermarket in Changi City Point (at Expo MRT station) nearby.

                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                        For me, the Indian vegetarian places are the best choices - dosas, upuma, idlis.

                        The nasi padang at T2's transit area foodcourt also stirs up a mean, spicy array of Malay curries.

                      2. re: klyeoh

                        Because we fly OUT of PHX, we usually only do wines at the Red Carpet Club in Terminal 2. After I campaigned for 10 years, they finally added "Premium Wines," but then merged with Continental, which offered free cheap wines. Luckily, enough travelers feel, as I do, and will actually PAY for better wines. Those "Premium Wines" are almost everywhere, but still, the best is, or was, SEA, where the RCC had a dozen local wines! That is what SFO should have done, years ago. Even International First Lounge, does not have a list, like SEA, and with Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mtns., and Amador/Sierra Foothills, right up the road, they definitely should.

                        Once, long ago, there was a great, SW burger bar, before security, but it has been gone for a dozen years.

                        In Terminal 4, we have enjoyed El Bravo, but that has been seldom, since we fly UAL most often.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          There's a good wine bar at the new Terminal 4 at JFK.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            That sounds great. That funky little bar had wines, but they could have been better.

                            That was an odd trip, as we flew in, went to our hotel in Queens, then took shuttle back to JFK, for wife to do church - the chapel there had Roman Catholic services, that worked for her. Then, as the hotel had really horrible food, we decided to do lunch and wine, and found that little bar, outside of TSA. If nothing else, the bartender entertained us, and the food and wine were much better than the hotel. Normally, I do not think of going to an airport, so my wife can go to church, or to dine (though sort of doing that next Sunday - the food, that is - at SFO - long story).



                      3. re: zuriga1

                        Stick with the raw oysters and a bowl of clam chowder at Legal and you'll be happy.

                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                          Good luck!!!!
                          My advise is to stay away from raw oysters before hopping on a plane!!
                          A colleague of mine had a dozen in Houston before flying back to Calgary. No fun watching him having diarrhea and stomach cramps through out the flight!!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            We have a long layover in Newark later on and, if we don't leave the airport, I'm considering Grand Central Oyster Bar. I've never eaten an oyster anywhere that made me one bit ill but agree that at 35000' it's something that would be real pleasant :(

                            1. re: c oliver

                              We have never flown through EWR, and probably never will. Still, when you find some good restaurants, please share, as who knows where they will have to connect through, especially if they live in PHX.

                              Travel safely,


                      4. The international terminal in Atlanta Airport (Hartsfield Jackson) has terrific food.

                        I loved the hot dogs at The Varsity (a small chain of drive in restaurants with a foot-traffic only location in the terminal), and the Original El Taco made great fried chicken tacos.

                        Any airport with a McDonalds is great with me -- I consider post-check-in to be a limbo space where neither responsibility or health come into play (i.e., drink loads, eat crap)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: brokentelephone

                          I hate flying into or out of ATL, but if I had to pick one domestic US airport for a lengthy layover, it would probably be ATL.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            As we say, if you're going to hell, you're going to change planes in ATL.

                          2. re: brokentelephone

                            While not Gourmet, at Terminal B thwre is a family run Popeye's where the service is stellar and everything is almost made to order.

                            1. re: brokentelephone

                              Flew through ATL last year, for the first time in decades. As we ate at the Hilton, before the trip to the airport, I did not notice anything. However, as ATL covers most of GA, half of AL, a good portion of TN, and maybe even some of SC, there were probably myriad restaurants, that we never saw. Here I thought that LHR was big - until I flew back into ATL.


                            2. HK International Airport has a few large Chinese restaurants (before immigration counters) - Maxims served very good dim sum, and really *great* braised seafood on crispy egg noodles.

                              In Seoul's futuristic Incheon airport, Sheraton Walker Hill runs a good Korean restaurant, Jayeon. I had a great seafood soup served in a stonepot there once.

                              KL International Airport: AWFUL!!! - this is *one* airport where you must eat before you ever come. Just simply bad, bad quality of food in every other outlet I tried - most serving re-heated meals.

                              1. I've also been to #27 Anthony's in Seattle many times, quite good seafood, much better than what you expect at an airport. Great if you have enough time for a sit down meal, they have a quick serve counter too. Sea-Tac has lots of other good options as well.

                                Legal Seafoods in Boston Airport is a must.

                                Also on the list was In Chicago, Frontera Tortas, a Rick Bayless spinoff of his casual downtown restaurant Xoco. A welcome addition, because for such a huge airport Chicago/O'Hare has few interesting food choices.

                                I used to like the Wolfgang Puck locations, but I think quality has gone way down. You are paying $12 for a small frozen pizza. You can get better than average airport wine there though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pamf

                                  Re: Wolfgang Puck - that's the problem with chains/franchises: failure to ensure consistency will affect the brand name, also, failure to innovate and change quickly in the face of changing consumer demands.

                                2. There's an excellent sushi/raw bar in Chicago Midway, but I can't remember the name of it. Outstanding.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                    There's also an excellent gelato bar in Midway. Don't recall the name.

                                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                                      Hmmm...Wicker Park Sushi and Seafood. I guess it's at O'Hare and not Midway like I thought.

                                    2. For 'QUALITY' and selection. If you are into Chinese food, nothing beats 'Tasty's' inside Hong Kong Airport's Departure Lounge!!
                                      Best Airport Won-Ton noodles, Congees, Cantonese BBQ meats, Dim Sums....etc. Beats all those airports that serve Chinese food like Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, San Francisco, Vancouver....etc hands down!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        Wait, Tasty's in the transit area now? Have to check that out the next time I'm in HKIA.

                                        In fact, Singapore's Changi Airport copied HKIA's approach in inviting popular eateries from the city to open outlets in the airport. Historically, Changi Airport's management goes all over the world, seeking out the best ideas from other airports, then implement those ideas back in Singapore. Back in the early-90s, Changi sent their people to Amsterdam's Schipol airport and Brussel's Zaventem, to learn how those airports organize their duty-free shopping business.

                                      2. How Five Guys made the list, and how it is higher up on the list than Pat LaFrieda's burger restaurant, is beyond my comprehension. Otherwise it's not a bad list. I've been to a lot of those airports, but sadly have only eaten at a couple restaurants on the list.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BKK Brendan

                                          The Five Guys at DCA might have made me the best airport burger I've ever had. Ever.

                                          Only the DCA one, however.

                                        2. Currently at Vienna airport, but not a single apfelstrudel in sight :-(

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                            Quite good Wiener Schnitzel at Meinl Food Court, Transit Area in Vienna International Airport

                                          2. ATL Airport - One Flew South. Great Sushi, excellent wine list.

                                            1. I've only hit One Flew South in ATL, and had an outstanding breakfast for lunch meal at Union Jack's at Gatwick.
                                              But I've got a 4.5 hour layover O_o coming my way in Amsterdam soon, so it's good to know I've got 2 great options. Maybe I'll grab a snack in each! That trip also includes a stop in LAX, so I'll try to squeeze in a dog at Pink's, but that connection is a bit tight.
                                              One of my favorite airport eateries is a lovely but somewhat pricey Thai place in BKK called Mango Tree. I know a lot of people get stuck in Bangkok for a few hours or more, so give it a go it you do.

                                              1. If you are ever in the Philadelphia airport, look for a pretzel stand. They have the best pretzels!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: SomersetN

                                                  Strongly agree. Because the fam lives in central PA, I find myself in Philadelphia waiting for my connecting commuter flight a good half dozen times a year, and a pretzel always hits the spot!

                                                2. Since we'd had a big breakfast on the incoming flight, we didn't eat in the Frankfort (Germany!) airport, but we had a drink at Coa and the food looked quite good.


                                                  There were many places that looked tasty. We have a 5'ish hour layover there next week and will check something out.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    5-hour layover? You can take the train to downtown Frankfurt, depending on the time of the day when you're there.

                                                    I'm passing through Frankfurt airport on Sat, 22 June.

                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                      In a perfect world, yes. But I always take into consideration arriving late, traffic, clearing security, etc. We're going on to Istanbul so they'll be boarding well in advance. And, honestly, after an 11 hour flight from SF, finding a place to stretch out (and they have a bunch of them) was awfully nice last time. But yes. We did that in London a few years ago.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Quite worrying strike by air traffic controllers in France today, and their counterparts from 10 more European countries joining in :-(

                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                          Yikes!!! I really LIKE long layovers on international flights. At least there are options. Thanks for the heads up. I'll be keeping an eye on. CHs are so cool :)

                                                  2. At Milwaukee airport - the Frontier/Southwest Terminal- there is a decent Italian place. I've had more than a few margarita pizzas there. For an airport, not bad.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: relizabeth

                                                      The Milwakee terminal also has (had?) that great used book store in the middle. I hope it's still there. That's probably my favorite amenity of any airport.

                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                        It was still there 8 months ago. Used book stores should be an airport staple.

                                                        1. re: relizabeth

                                                          I fully agree! thanks for the update.

                                                    2. I'm surprised that anything to do with Jamie Oliver would make the "Top" anything.

                                                      I base this on eating at Jamie's Italian which was poor lamost beyond belief.

                                                      1. Fancy getting Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel or Sachertorte at the last minute in Vienna Airport? Viennese chain Julius Meinl has an outlet there which offers all of the above, though not exactly the *best-tasting* renditions. Warning: Service can be rude and obnoxious (servers were saying rude things about their "foreign customers", not knowing that I can understand what they were saying - my "German" language teacher in school was actually Austrian: from Vienna).

                                                        1. Maybe we're a bit spoilt these days. But having to fly from Kosice, Slovakia's tiny airport, one can only get pre-packed sandwiches and soda from the sole retail outlet in the main concourse area.

                                                          1. Just found ' blue smoke' at terminal 4 at JFK, not bad either

                                                            1. As mentioned up thread, my go to in any airport are the offerings in the international terminal. I like the offerings, enjoy a bar that is usually more relaxed, and have yet to here a rap song.

                                                              The best part for me arriving in any European airport is the opportunity to have a real beer. Even at 0800 hrs.

                                                              1. We were recently in the Frankfurt airport and had a really nice meal at Kuffler & Bucher.


                                                                I'd have been proud to serve it at home. And definitely the best sauerkraut I've ever tasted. Along with a split of German sparkling.

                                                                1. While I have not dined at Wolfgang Puck's at DEN, I have at a few at LAX, and if similar, could understand the omission.

                                                                  At LHR, Plane Food
                                                                  At SFO, Yankee Pier
                                                                  At DEN, Pour la France
                                                                  At LAX, have not found anything edible
                                                                  At IAD, nothing strikes me
                                                                  At IAH, Pappadeaux
                                                                  At TYS, Ruby Tuesday is as good as it gets
                                                                  At CDG, only travel through, with no food experiences
                                                                  At FCO, same thing - in and out, with no food at the airport
                                                                  At ORD, I would leave security, and go to the steakhouse in the Hilton, then come back through security.
                                                                  At MSY, Café Beignet
                                                                  At JFK, a funky bar in Terminal 2, right in the middle - strange, but worth the effort
                                                                  GPT, eat at The Whitecap, before you leave for the airport
                                                                  SEA, never dined, but DID spend a lot of time in the UAL Red Carpet Club, drinking some great, local wines
                                                                  OMA, always ate before we left


                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    Dining at Terminal 4 in JFK will probably have improved significantly with Marcus Samuelsson's Uptown Brasserie's opening in late-May (Samuelsson's other project, Street Food, is due to open at T4 later in the year). Also in T4's new annex is Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery, serving up artisan bread and sandwiches; and Blue Smoke on the Road for pre-flight barbecue ;-)

                                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                                      Ah, that IS new to us.

                                                                      We do not fly into/out of JFK all that often, as for most of our international flying, we are going out of SFO, or maybe IAD. We have done it out of IAH, ORD, LAX and DEN, but are not THAT keen on those airports, and especially upon return to the US. I think that SFO just does international arrivals best.

                                                                      Still, wife wants a NYC trip, so I appreciate the info.



                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Do report back on your dining experience there if you can, Bill :-)

                                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Reminds me, I've had a good breakfast at Pour La France at DEN.

                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                        When connecting in DEN (somewhat often, and that was our home airport, when it opened), we have had nothing but good meals at Pour La France. I have gotten some recs. on a few new restaurants, but have not had time to test those.

                                                                        Their first restaurant was near my studio, down by Centenial Airport, and we dined there often. When they opened at DEN, we tried them, and were impressed, at least by airport food standards.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          Some pics to share from the last time I was in DEN a few years back. That Wolfgang Puck meal I had (pumpkin soup, roast chicken with Mac 'n cheese, chocolate mousse) was still the *best* I'd had in any airport restaurant in the US up till then.

                                                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                                                            Thank you.

                                                                            Only airport Puck's that I have had was a little pizza spot in LAX, in the UAL concourse. Caught them early, and was not very impressed. However, it WAS better than much of the dining fare at the UAL gates at LAX. Maybe will give them a second go, and well after opening?



                                                                    3. Over at London Heathrow, Masterchef UK judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, had been tasked to challenge the airport's 73 restaurants and bars to improve their offerings over a 6-month period.

                                                                      The airport's first food guide, Food on the Fly, is due to be released this month and 10,000 physical copies will be distributed to passengers passing through Heathrow (downloads also available on the airport's website later this month - I'm looking forward to this).


                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                                                        That could be very useful.

                                                                        As we fly UAL out of LHR, we are almost always going out of Terminal 1 (though UAL is split for now), and we normally just head to the Star Alliance International First Club, so have not dined all that often there. We had hoped to fly the BA LHR to PHX flight, and do Ramsay's Plane Food, but schedules did not work out.

                                                                        I will be following this endeavor.

                                                                        Thank you,