Hungry? Head for the airport!
It wasn’t that long ago that “good airport restaurant” was a jokey oxymoron. A trip to the airport meant brown-bagging it, or suffering through whatever dreck was on offer at the fast-food outlet that happened to have the concession at your gate.
The country’s airports still boast plenty of ho-hum eateries. In fact, mediocrity remains the norm. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, the lowest-common-denominator restaurants are being edged out by plucky independents, some with really (really!) good food.
Proof positive of the improving airport gastronomical scene is a newly published list from Thrillist of the best restaurants at America’s 40 largest airports.
Here, for your delectation, is a random selection of 10 of the featured airport eateries:
- Maudie’s Tex-Mex, Austin Bergstrom Airport (Gate 12) – “Classic Austin Tex-Mex joint for queso, the specialty fajita tacos, or the enchilada perfecto.”
- Cafe L’Appetito, Chicago Midway (Triangle food court) – “Parma sandwiches, meatball subs, and sesame-crusted hoagie rolls filled with all varieties of Italian pork are the move.”
- Whitetail Bistro, Dallas-Ft. Worth (Terminal D, Gate 22) – “Your inevitable six-hour holiday delay at DFW is much more enjoyable when paired with bobwhite quail on a johnnycake with sausage gravy. I mean, it definitely beats Friday’s.”
- Shula Burger, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood (Terminal 1, Concourse C) – “The burgers are a char-grilled delicacy made from brisket, chuck, and short rib, and could stand up as Broward’s best burgers”
- Hugo’s Cocina, George Bush Intercontinental (Post-security, Gate D6) – “The cochinita pibil wrapped in banana leaf with habanero salsa will have you raving about the food in Houston even if you’ve never actually “
- Deep Blue Sushi, JFK International (Terminal 5, post-marketplace) – “… perhaps the most shockingly good dining experience you’ll ever have at an airport.”
- , Los Angeles International (International Terminal Great Hall, Level 4) “Stop in and enjoy chef Michael Voltaggio’s ridiculously delicious sandwiches.”
- Tony Luke’s (Philadelphia International (Terminal F) – “It would be a tragic error if we didn’t tell you about one of the best cheesesteak shops in Philly sitting right there in Terminal F.”
- Blancos Tacos, Phoenix Sky Harbor (Terminal 4) – “The best airport burrito in the country is at the small window attached to one of the valley’s best Mexican eateries.”
- Kapnos Taverna Reagan Washington National (Terminal C) – “A fantastic place to chow down on fire-grilled kebab, souvlaki, and pork shoulder.”
As the above list illustrates, there’s no longer any reason to settle for a Big Mac or a soggy slice of Domino’s pizza pre- or post-flight. Airports may not yet be culinary meccas, but neither are they culinary wastelands.
Seek and ye shall find.
Reader Reality Check
What airport restaurants do you favor?
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.