Confessions of an Airport Diner

LOMO retro waiting room
LOMO retro waiting room

Airport food has pretty much always resided in a category  alongside hospital and rest-stop fare. As a veteran of the friendly skies and not-always-friendly terminals myself, I’ve sampled a good deal of airport food, and I can tell you firsthand that there are several exceptions to that rule in the last few years. In fact, you might even deem it a movement in some airports.

I put together my top 5 airport meals based on my experiences. Am I suggesting you drive out to the airport for dinner, tonight? Nope. But you just might be surprised by your next layover feast.

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food

British Airways’ Terminal Five was the subject of some controversy when it first opened, but I wasn’t about to hold it against them on my last trip to Heathrow. I hit up Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food which, like the rest of the terminal, helps you forget you’re even in an airport.

What to try: Crispy duck and watercress salad.


With a Gallagher’s outpost right in the Newark airport, you can extend the New York-ness of your visit right up until boarding. That being said, if you get the chance to try the original, Prohibition-era steakhouse in the city–go for it.

What to try: Ribeye steak sandwich.

The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que

Roots in mid-1800s Mississippi, multiple “Best of BBQ” awards, and a tried-and-true recipe for just plain good barbecue (here’s how) make for exceptional eating at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

What to try: Pork ribs.

La Carreta

If you’re passing through Miami Airport, chances are you’ll have some time to kill. I suggest you spend it at La Carreta; it can get pretty busy, but the general consensus is that it’s worth the wait. With several other locations around the Miami area, they’ve pretty much perfected the art of Cuban food that’s freshly cooked, flavorful, and fast.

What to try: Pork with yellow rice and fried plantains.

Boudin Bakery

Perfect for a simple-but-tasty meal, stop by Boudin’s airport location for some of San Fran’s renowned sourdough. If you’ve got room in your carryon, you might even want to grab a loaf for home/a last-minute souvenir (freshly baked bread trumps a snow globe any day of the week, in my book).

What to try: Soup (any kind) in a sourdough bread bowl.

Those five got high marks, but there are airport terminal restaurants all over the world doing their part to end the plight that is overpriced, low-quality airport food. Below are a few such restaurants that are well worth a ride on the moving walkway. Let us know your favorites in the comments!

Why should you trust Mike to be so airport savvy?

Well, I just hit the mark for 100,000 miles flown with United. That’s four times around the globe. Feel free to be impressed and/or alarmed at how many hours I’ve spent on planes.

Also, wouldn’t you think there’d be some sort of ceremony/trophy? Nothing. Zip. Just a hell of a lot of mildly useful knowledge when it comes to airport restaurants.

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