Airport restaurants have had something of a renaissance in recent years. An emphasis on quality and local flavor has taken the edge off of the stresses of travel. Here are some of the best airports around the country for grabbing a bite to eat.
10. Burlington International
South Burlington, Vermont
There is only one restaurant at the Burlington airport, but sometimes one is all you need. The Skinny Pancake gives you everything you need to know about the local flavor of Vermont, wrapped in a tender crepe. Stuffed to bursting with locally-sourced fresh meats and vegetables, The Skinny Pancake is the perfect blend of quality and comfort food to help you recover after a long flight. Obviously, there is no Cinnabon.
9. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Healthy eaters will want to note the French Meadow Bakery and Cafe, from the founders of the first certified organic bakery in America. Adventurous eaters may want to try the bison tartare at Mill City Tavern. MSP may not have a single iconic food like cheesesteak or barbecue, but it does offer a wide variety of unique experiences. Those experiences, unfortunately, do not include Cinnabon.
8. JFK International
New York City
JFK’s terminals all boast a sampling of what the city’s best-known chefs have to offer. Marcus Samuelsson, Andrew Carmellini, and a host of others have left their mark on the place. If you can handle precious names like Deep.Blue, loft., and 5ivesteak, you can find fantastic sushi, traditional American cuisine, and (obviously) steak. Sadly, none of JFK’s terminals boast a Cinnabon.
7. Logan International
Boston’s airport has some great places to eat: Legal Sea Foods, for instance, a staple of the Waterfront and a big tourist draw. The standout feature of Logan, however, is the variety of bars. Game On, the Harpoon Tap Room, and Boston Beer Works all have a foothold in the airport, and Nantucket-based Cisco Brewery has a brew pub stowed away in the airport, as well. If you’re on a layover, take this chance to relax before your next flight. If Boston is your destination, use this as an opportunity to acclimate to the city. Just don’t try and recover from all that beer with a Cinnabon because there isn’t one.
6. Nashville International
BNA is one of several Southern entries on the list. If there’s one thing that the South really nails, it’s food. The pecan pie at Swett’s is enough to make this list by itself, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge brings the honky-tonk to a new clientele. Whitt’s, Neely’s, and Noshville also make Nashville International a must-visit food airport. One thing it isn’t, though, is a Cinnabon airport.
5. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Clayton County, Georgia
The busiest airport in the world needs to have its food game on point, and ATL has risen to the occasion with a unique blend of haute cuisine and Southern comfort food. Asian-fusion hot spot One Flew South routinely shows up on lists of the greatest airport restaurants in the world, but it’s not alone. An ocean of barbecue, soul food, and bakeries awaits visitors. Not to mention, there are Cinnabons at Concourses A and D.
4. San Francisco International
San Mateo County, California
San Francisco is known for a lot of things, and you can find a microcosm of them all here at SFO. Sushi and wine abound. Anchor Brewing Company has set up shop. The audaciously-named Burger Joint is here, selling locally-sourced Angus burgers and shakes made from local Double Rainbow ice cream. And it’s not every airport that can boast a menu from chefs that have earned three Michelin stars, but The Centurion Lounge places SFO in that rarified air. The airport’s sky-high reputation for food is tarnished only by a lack of Cinnabon.
3. Dallas/Fort Worth International
DFW probably isn’t what a lot of people think of when they think of fine dining, but the breadth and depth of options at this airport make it a surprising contender, with not only an array of fantastic barbecue and Tex-Mex one would expect from any Texas eatery, but also many healthy options. UFood Grill, with its tofu, bison burgers, and steamed broccoli, has made a stir among health-conscious travelers. Not to mention Cereality, a cereal bar and cafe that appeals to health nuts as much as it does to people who want to mix malted milk balls with lucky charms and cocoa puffs. Not a lot of restaurants can claim that. Cinnabon lovers, however, are out of luck.
2. Philadelphia International
Tinicum Township, Pennsylvania
Strong regional influences are part of what make an airport such a great opportunity for food. The chance for an authentic Tony Luke’s cheesesteak in Philadelphia, for instance, can brighten up an otherwise dismal, frantic day of travel. Be sure to try the crab fries at Chickie’s & Pete’s, as well. There’s also a Vino Volo and a Legal Sea Foods, which is a little far from home base in Boston, but still well worth trying out if you never have. One thing you won’t be trying, though, is a Cinnabon.
1. Austin-Bergstrom International
You could eat a different taco for every meal, three meals a day, for an entire year in Austin, and never eat the same taco twice. Austin-Bergstrom may not have quite that many tacos, but the Tex-Mex and barbecue culture are definitely present. Get a stuffed avocado at Maudie’s, and if you can still walk, grab some Amy’s Ice Cream. Or head over to Ray Benson’s Roadhouse and bask in the glow of live music at the airport, then go get Amy’s Ice Cream. Or, if you prefer, a Cinnabon near the world-famous Salt Lick BBQ joint.