The Good and Bad of Dining on Planes, in Hotels, and on the Ground

Here are four dining lessons from the air and from the ground that I learned over the past week: a recommendable restaurant, a good meal on a plane, and a former hotel favorite disappoints.

  • Regular readers know that my favorite Thai restaurant – by far – is Elephant Jumps in Merrifield, in Northern Virginia outside DC. That remains the case. However there’s a second Thai place in Northern Virginia I find recommendable. I went this past week with Tyler Cowen and it was excellent: Kao Sarn inside the Eden Center in Falls Church. It’s not a storefront, enter the corridor directly opposite the Mongolian Hot Pot place at the West entrance.

  • I stayed at the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York earlier in the month. Room service breakfast is still included for top tier Hyatt elites. However the lemon poppyseed pancakes just weren’t nearly as good as in the past. Have others noticed a decline as well?

  • Last month American Airlines rolled out an all-new set of domestic meals. I have to say that the cheese enchiladas were far more flavorful than I expected. The texture wasn’t ideal, but the limits of reheating in galley ovens mean compromises. I thought the accompanying salad could have been better, though. Still I would order them again.

  • I still recommend ordering special meals, though. Any time American Airlines serves gulab jamun as dessert that has to be a win, right?

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. Happy Holiday
    Didn’t they close Andaz 5th ave. The Shop and move the restaurant underground?Be,ow the lobby.p?
    Just moving the restaurant could be problematic not to mention they may have lost their chef

  2. Didn’t notice the pancake decline over thanksgiving but rarely order it. Breakfast service was wonky but recovery was very good.

  3. BTW-the cheese burger on AA’s new menu served at lunch between ORD-BOS was good; a little over greasy, but good. Just needed pickles.

    You need to warn your readers to be aware of the fact that Amtrak pulled off the dining cars in lieu of cold boxed meals on the “Lake Shore Ltd” (Chicago-NYC) and “Capitol Ltd” (Chicago-Washington); the “Silver Star”(NYC-Tampa-Miami) also no longer has no diner, but just a cafe serving less than GITMO unhealthy items. Pathetically, after destroying dining services, now Amtrak’s management team seeks an RFI to look deep into food/beverage options. Food still good in Canada on VIA Rail Canada and on Alaska Railroad.

  4. The American special order first class meal of Asian Vegetarian is remarkably good! I’ve had it twice the past two weeks, and it was spicy, with varied textures, and enjoyable. I’m sure AA will figure out how to make it worse, but enjoy it for now. It’s also dairy and cheese-free, which is a pleasure given the messy cheesy glop covering most other meals. What is it about cheese? Revolting, unfit for human consumption, should be optional.

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