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Jun 6, 2013 12:14 AM

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

(Note: this thread was split from the UK board at: -- 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.