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Gone are the days when eating at the airport meant scrounging for chips or replacing meals with candy. These days, airports are almost a destination of their own for delicious meals and locally-driven cuisine. The larger airports around the country, especially, have significantly stepped up their culinary game, and famous chefs are headlining terminal eateries. Instead of rushing to the airport last minute, consider heading there early to experience an impressive meal. To make your next trip more enjoyable, we’ve mapped out the best bites at airports around the country. Safe travels and bon appetit! 

RELATED: Airport etiquette—are you guilty of these travel faux pas? (video)

 

 

NEW YORK: JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL (JFK)

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Flickr CC: star5112

  • Shake Shack (Terminal 4, Gates B23 & B37): When in NYC…you must stop at Shake Shack, and their only US airport location is at JFK. Widely considered to have the best burger on the East Coast, you can’t go wrong with either the ShackBurger or the SmokeShack. Pair any burger with one of their famous frozen custards, chocolate shakes or root beer floats, and definitely opt for cheese fries.
  • Uptown Brasserie (Terminal 4, Gate 32): As it’s owned by Top Chef Marcus Samuelson (Harlem’s Red Rooster), you just know the food here is going to be good. Order the Reuben, Market Burger or Grandma’s Meatballs.
  • The Palm (Terminal 4, Before Gate B23): Luckily for those with a layover, one of New York’s best known steak houses has an outpost at JFK. If you have time, it’s a lovely place to stop in for a proper dinner. The steaks are great, as are the crab cakes for a lighter appetizer. They have a pretty decent wine list and full bar, so you can sip a Manhattan just before wheels up.
  • Deep Blue (Terminal 5, Center Marketplace): Jetblue’s Terminal 5 houses one of the most well-regarded sushi restaurants in all of airport-land. The chef and restauranteur behind Buddakan in Manahattan, Michael Schulson, has brought high-caliber sushi and Japanese yakitori to the traveling crowd. Look for the blue lights just off the main Terminal 5 market place.
  • La Vie (Terminal 5, Center Marketplace): Breakfast can be tough at the JetBlue terminal. The service at the center-area cafés is slow and the Starbucks line is 562 miles long. But just to the right of Starbucks, hidden behind the line of Venti seekers, is a little French Brasserie called La Vie. The food is surprisingly good, the coffee is great and the service speedy.

 

MINNESOTA: MINNEAPOLIS – ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL (MSP)

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  • Ike’s Food & Cocktails (Terminal 1, the Mall across from checkpoint 1): Is Ike’s a Minnesota staple? You BETCHA. The airport location serves amazing Bloody Marys and one of the best Angus French Dip sandwiches you’ll ever come across. Ask for extra horseradish mayo—the more you slather, the better.
  • Surdyk’s Flights (Terminal 1, just after security AND Terminal 2 near Gate H8): One of the most beloved wine bars in Minneapolis now has two locations at MSP. Stop in for a killer glass of wine and gourmet cheese & charcuterie plate pre-flight to ease any travel jitters. Both locations offer their signature wine flights, small plates to share, as well as salads and sandwiches—all available as buy-and-fly options. You can even pick up a bottle of wine and a sandwich for your hotel later that night, or grab a nice bottle of champagne as a hostess gift for friends as you head out of the airport!

 

GEORGIA: HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL (ATL)

  • One Flew South (Terminal E, center-point): One Flew South was the first upscale dining spot in the Atlanta airport, and it’s still one of the best places to enjoy a meal. Their Pimento Cheese Plate, Concourse E Dry Aged Burger and Pulled Duck Sandwich are all well-worth ordering.
  • Chik-Fil-A (Terminal C, Gate 21): Chik-Fil-A started in Georgia in 1946 and claims to be the “home of the original chicken sandwich.” Yes it’s fast food, but few folks do a chicken sandwich better than they do. Their waffle fries are also amazing, especially when drowned in their “Polynesian sauce.”

 

CALIFORNIA: LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL (LAX)

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  • Wolfgang Puck Express (Terminal 7, Gate 3): Wolfgang Puck is a world renowned chef and no doubt creates some delicious dishes; but when we stop in his LAX outpost, we go for the same thing every time: Barbecued Chicken Pizza and Fennel Sausage Pizza. Both are exquisite.
  • Lemonade (Terminal 5, Gate 52B): The sleek and sophisticated cafeteria-style eatery serves delicious, light and healthy California fare. Fill your tray with lean meats and fresh salads, and eat at your own speed in this casual atmosphere. There are a bevy of options to choose from, but the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, Soba Noodles, Pineapple Chicken Salad, and Buttermilk Baked Chicken Breast are notably delish. Grab a dessert to-go and be on your way!

 

ALSO: Ready for dessert? Orbitz Rewards offers sweet rewards, good toward hotels!

 

ILLINOIS: O’HARE INTERNATIONAL (ORD)

  • Billy Goat Tavern and Grill (Terminal 1, Gate C19): You don’t have to leave the airport to visit Chicago’s famous Billy Goat Tavern! Grab a cheeseburger here before your flight for a real taste of Chi-town. 
  • Tortas Frontera (Terminal 5, Gate M12): Famed chef Rick Bayless has several beloved restaurants in Chicago and, thankfully, he also wanted travelers venturing through ORD to experience his amazingness! Stop into Tortas Frontera for delicious Mexican fare, like fresh guac, strong margaritas, and hand pressed tortas (the cochinita pibl is to die for). 

 

TEXAS: HOUSTON GEORGE BUSH INTERCONTINENTAL (IAH)

  • Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (Terminal E, near Gate 9): This is a favorite of the frequent-flyer crowd at IAH. Located on the second floor of Terminal E, the restaurant setting and cuisine makes you completely forget you’re dining at an airport. Known for their speedy service, Pappadeaux’s has delicious, fresh seafood (including one amazing Shrimp Etoufée) and plenty of cold brews on draft.
  • Urban Crave (Terminal C, Gate 29): One of the more forward-thinking airport eateries we’ve come across, Urban Crave serves some savory bites inspired by street food from all over the world. The authentic street cuisine is packed with flavor and includes items like fresh fish tacos, fresh ground-chuck burgers, ceviche, lettuce wraps and more.

 

MASSACHUSETTS: BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL (BOS)

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  • Legal Seafood (Terminal B, Gates 8 & 29): With 24 locations in Massachusetts alone, Legal serves incredibly fresh seafood—yes, even at the airport. Get their Signature Crab Cakes or a Lobster Roll.
  • Legal Test Kitchen (Terminal A, Gate 5): A sister restaurant of Legal Seafood, the Lobster Roll is also a must here. Otherwise, the New England Clam Chowder is the perfect, hearty pre-flight meal.

 

SAN JUAN: AEROPUERTO INTERNACIONAL LUIS MUÑOZ MARÍN PUERTO RICO (SJU)

  • Casa Avila (Terminal B, Near Gate 2): A recent expansion of the San Juan airport brought some new island restaurants to the scene. Enter Casa Avila, a delicious tapas-style restaurant and wine bar in the B terminal. The grilled octopus is truly superb, the croquettes are savory and delicious, and we give the empanadas two thumbs up! 

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Tagged: Boston, California, Chicago, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Midwest, Minnesota, New York, Texas

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