Are There Airport Restaurants Worth Flying To?

Airfare Watchdog has a post on the ‘top 10 restaurants worth flying for’.

Now, there are plenty of restaurants worth flying for, at least I think so, I’ve written up my meals at El Bulli and the Fat Duck where those establishments were actually the point of the trip (as opposed to just an enjoyable meal I had along the way, such as this one).

But I’ve never actually come across an airport restaurant that was worth flying to just to eat there.

There are perfectly pleasant places in airports of course, and you wouldn’t be surprised to find that I think many airports themselves are perfectly pleasant places. Though there are of course many, many dumps … Chicago Midway, the A terminal ‘banjo’ at Washington National, St. Croix, the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, any airport in India, to name just a few.

Though the food isn’t great, Encounter at LAX is very cool. And there’s a Sam & Harry’s at my home airport (not to mention a Five Guys!).

None of these places I’d fly to just for the food. So call me skeptical at the piece.

Still, I can’t claim to have eaten at these places, I try to minimize my airport time or if I’m in the airport I’ll while away the time in a lounge (there are quite a few ghetto ones of those, however).

What do you think of their list, or do you think there are any airport restaurants that are actually so good as to be worth flying to (as opposed to just being decent places to eat while there)?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I understand that In-and-Out Burger enthusiasts from the East Coast have been known to book long connections at LAX to allow them time to take the Parking Spot-Sepulveda shuttle bus to the outlet just off the airport (the In-and-Out is adjacent to the garage). Their patio is also a good spot to watch the planes landing on the adjacent runway.

    I’ve always assumed that Parking Spot would crack down on this use of their free shuttle, and the last time I walked in to their side door from In-and-Out, I thought someone was going to say something, but I maybe I was just being paranoid.

  2. Point about india well taken, but you might want to fly to DEL/BLR/BOM before you shoot off. Pleasantly surprised when i flew them, they’re now a huge upgrade on most american airports

  3. Tortas Frontera at ORD rocks. I now love it when I’m routed through there and have risked missing my flight to secure a tortas for my flight. If you have time sit at the bar and get an awesome margarita.

  4. ahhh! after the FD debacle/disaster, i don’t believe anything they write anymore 😐

  5. In my hometown of Hutchinson, KS there is a very small non-commercial airport. Half of the “terminal” is taken by Airport Steakhouse, considered the best restaurant in town. And yes, people fly their planes several hours to the Hutch airport just to eat at Airport Steakhouse.

  6. I’ve checked into Heathrow’s BA terminal a little early 3 times now to try the latest Plane Food menu (and a wine match or two). I don’t think Gordon has achieved his goal of producing the first Michelin star-worthy airport restaurant, but definitely better than a typical meal on the run….

  7. South Indian food at Delhi airport is terrific. Fresh ‘dosa bar’ at departure area in Hyderabad.

    IIRC, there was really solid authentic Italian grub at Venice Airport.

    The sushi joint at DTW is delicious and actually pretty reasonably priced.

  8. Have to agree with both One Flew South @ ATL and La Carreta @ MIA.

    One Flew South is the best airport restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, and the only one I’d ever consider taking a date to (if it weren’t in an airport). Great service, food that goes from pretty darn good to really great.

    La Carreta is pretty much the gold standard in Miami cuban food and the airport location is just as good as the city ones. No way I’d travel there just to eat it, but if I’m at MIA I’m always there. Best thing there are the guava pastries – incredible.

  9. Interstate BBQ in MEM is pretty decent. Ate at La Carreta @MIA and food was good.

    I like airports that have “street” pricing. (no more expensive than inside the city). LAX is my home airport and I don’t eat there. Overpriced and I rather have In-N-Out. 🙂

  10. Couldn’t read it- have to maintain my boycott of AFWD after the FD issue two years ago….

  11. Being from ATL, I’m always up for hitting the airport Chick-fil-A when I have a connection. I’ve even SDC to stop by ATL for lunch when the craving hits. Chicken sandwich + curly fries + sweet tea… perfect.

  12. @MMP Have you BEEN through security at BOM? The layout is awful, the backups awful, cleanliness awful. Have you been in the airport lounges there? The bathrooms were non-functional last time I was in the LH lounge, they sent you back into the terminal. And the lounge had to be accessed TRHOUGH a duty free shop. Oh, there are worse, but not an upgrade compared to most American airports.

  13. I second Interstate BBQ in MEM (across from Gate B17). Take some on the airplane and you will make everyone hungry!

  14. Gary both DEL and BLR are good airports in India. Both are fairly new. I would say both are better than most U.S. airports. Futher Kingfisher and Jet Airways are better than Delta, United and American.

  15. I ate at Plane Food on my way back from LHR-IAD in 2009. The portions were kind of small, but the quality of the food was outstanding! One of the best meals of the whole trip!

  16. The only airport I would actually WANT to spend time in is Singapore’s CHANGI Airport… I totally love it!

  17. The food at HND was amazing. VERY high quality, and a TON to choose from. I would go back there just to eat!

  18. I can’t believe you didn’t mention Potbelly in DCA. I prefer it to the other 2 by a wide margin.

  19. All good choices. I’d add the Popeye’s Chicken or Acme Oyster House at MSY. But I don’t think any of the choices listed here merit a special trip. Does a deliberate layover count as a trip?

  20. Ebisu in SFO international terminal is really great sushi, and as someone already said the Frontera outlet at ORD is a huge addition.

  21. Salt Lick BBQ and Amy’s Ice Cream at AUS. The ambiance of the airport Salt Lick isn’t even close to the real thing, but the food is still great.

  22. Gary,

    out of interest when did you fly through bom? they got a new airport about a year back (as did DEL/BLR/HYD)- i just went to Del and BLR. haven’t been to BOM lately, and if they really screwed up the upgrade i apologize, but the pictures look good. I wasn’t too thrilled on my return from DEL/BLR (PHL is pretty run down, LGA is way past it’s sell by date, ORD could use an upgrade…)

  23. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen at DFW is exceptional don’t miss the scallops and Legal Seafood for a lobster roll at DCA is simply brilliant

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