laniloa

Dining at Airports

200 posts in this topic

What about airport food? Faced with iffy or non-existent in-flight options, where should one head during layovers? My default option lately has been trail mix at the Grove (multiple locations in many airports, including Atlanta). Since I live in one of those can't get there from here places, I have many long layovers.

ATL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At National, there's Legal Seafood. Unfortunately, it's quite uneven. Last year I flew from National to Boston, and had the fried clams at Legal at National, and they were really pretty awful. Then I had the same thing at Legal at the Pru in Boston, and they were wonderful, and I went back and had them again and they were wonderful again. But the clams at National were tough, chewy little pieces of frustration. I think there's a Legal at Logan, but I haven't tried it. I did eat at Ozone, a Todd English restaurant at Logan, and it was one of the most dismal dining experiences of my life. Why do people like English think they can keep putting their names on dreadful enterprises that insult their public, and still keep their reputations?

Actually, let me tell you about my meal at Ozone. I see that there's this Todd English restaurant at Logan, and I'm hungry and I've got lots of time for lunch. So I walk in, and am shown to a table. This is the middle of the lunch rush, and there's a woman mopping the floor of the restaurant. She doesn't actually ask me to lift my feet, but it's close, and the smell of ammonia is intense. The waiter comes to take my order, and I ask for a bowl of clam chowder and a steak cooked medium. Fifteen minutes pass, and the waiter arrives with both the chowder and the steak. I shoot what I think is a look at the waiter, but it doesn't seem to register. I don't think it occurs to him that ought is amiss. I set the plate with the steak aside, and address the chowder. It is surpassingly awful, just god-awful, a flour-thickened library paste of a chowder that I find simply inedible. I set it aside, and address the steak. It is cooked super-well-done, grey and tough. The fries that accompany it are excellent. I finally succeed in catching the waiter's attention, and tell him my steak is not as I requested it. I reiterate that I wanted a steak cooked medium. He apologizes, and takes the plate back to the kitchen. The bowl of chowder remains on the table, congealing.

Ten minutes pass, and the waiter returns with another steak. I taste one of the fries, and find to my delight that they've cooked a fresh batch, and not tried to recycle the earlier order as I'd feared. Then I cut into the steak. A dreary grey throughout. I think "The kitchen is just telling me to fuck myself." The waiter hasn't gone far, and I bring him back to my table. "I NEVER send anything back," I say, "but this is simply not what I ordered. This is extremely well-done, and I asked for medium. It should be pink." He apologizes again, and takes the plate back to the kitchen one more time. The bowl of chowder continues to harden.

A few minutes later, the waiter returns with a third steak. I cut into it, and find that there are faint signs of pink, so I agree to accept it even though it's still overcooked. Again, there are freshly cooked pommes frites, which are excellent. I end up eating the whole steak and all of the fries, although I resent the steak. As I eat, I regard the now crusty bowl of clam chowder, still mocking me from the other side of the table. Finally I get the check, and see that the waiter had entered "steak medium well" from the start. The kitchen hadn't had a chance. The waiter clears away the plate that had held the slightly-pink steak and the fries, and I pay the bill. As I walk away, I say a fond farewell to the bowl of chowder, still sitting on the table like a plate of leaden glue.

I don't recommend Ozone at Logan Airport.

DCA BOS

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Based on my very limited sample size, I have yet to find something actually good in a domestic airport, with one memorable exception. There's a little diner in the terminal at Sitka, Alaska, that serves up some terrific pies. I love to sample the pies at most established diners and greasy spoons, but the ones at Sitka were really, really good, especially their banana cream.

The pubs at Heathrow are actually fairly tasty if you like English food (which I do). The kitchens can be quite slow however, so don't expect to eat in a hurry. I also seem to recall an interesting pan-cultural set of lunch counters on the upper level of Rome's Fiumicino airport, where I ended up choosing a panini anyway.

Not precisely in the spirit of this thread, lunch expeditions to local general aviation airports have yielded some interesting meals. There's the gourmet Citgo behind Bay Bridge airport, worth a visit if you're on Kent Island and not looking for crabs. There's the unreliable-but-occasionally-good 94th Aero Squadron behind College Park airport. I'm told that the restaurant at Frederick airport cooks up a great burger, but I've never had the pleasure.

SIT LHR FCO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fifteen minutes pass, and the waiter arrives with both the chowder and the steak. I shoot what I think is a look at the waiter, but it doesn't seem to register. I don't think it occurs to him that ought is amiss.

Not an excuse, but at airport restaurants they assume that you are in a hurry to catch a flight - the whole menu and service is focused on turning your table in 30-45 minutes. In my many many years of business travel, I've never been served an appetizer before my entree, or at least not much before my entree, unless I specifically requested it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Memphis, one of the terminals (blanking at the moment; it's the obviously new one) has a decent barbecue joint. Something-something Interstate Barbecue. My pulled pork sandwich was okay, but the meaty baked beans were absolutely fantastic. I'm heading there again in two weeks so I'll pay more attention to details.

Absolutely nothing worth eating at the airport in Greensboro, NC, something it makes up for in the lack of lines (ever) at security. The terminal in Oakland where Jet Blue is headquartered is similarly lacking in options.

MEM GSO OAK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The terminal in Oakland where Jet Blue is headquartered is similarly lacking in options.
Hey! There's always the Roundtable Pizza, which will serve you a greasy, overly-sauced slice with the toppings piled high. biggrin.gif

Actually, I used to love the place when I was younger. I could polish off a large by myself...

OAK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not an excuse, but at airport restaurants they assume that you are in a hurry to catch a flight - the whole menu and service is focused on turning your table in 30-45 minutes. In my many many years of business travel, I've never been served an appetizer before my entree, or at least not much before my entree, unless I specifically requested it.

Well, I can't see how making the traveler wait fifteen minutes while they overcook his steak before bringing out the soup, which only needs dishing up, saves him any time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nitrogenated Tetley's on tap at the Jet Rock bar/restaurant in Philadelphia. Tastes much better than any airport food I can think of. I recall they sell it in liter glasses at a surprisingly affordable price for an airport.

PHL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, I can't see how making the traveler wait fifteen minutes while they overcook his steak before bringing out the soup, which only needs dishing up, saves him any time.

Again, I'm not excusing it. But when you order apps in a restaurant, the server is either going to separate the ticket so your entrees don't come out first, or they have a system to prevent that. An airport restaurant, assuming you want to be out the door in 30 minutes, just throws everything in and what comes out comes out. Now, a good server might ask if you want your appetizer first, and I've been known to point out to the server that I'm NOT in a rush, but I can't count the number of times I've gotten soup with an entree at the same time in an airport.

Signed, 50-100k miles/year for the last 11 years. Until 2 weeks ago - no more travel for new job. Yay!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The local airports are pretty much a dead loss. At least BWI now has a Mayorga so you can get decent coffee. Dulles doesn't have enough coffee options--the lines for Starbucks are always so long that I give up.

LAX--Wolfgang Puck's Cafe is a great option, especially the breakfast pizza on the way to Hawaii.

San Diego--has a Rubio's outside of security; good but not great shrimp burritos.

St. Louis--barren wasteland which I used to fly through all the time back when I flew TWA exclusively for the frequent flyer miles.

LGA--main terminal; decent options, the Fox Sports thing was pretty good AND fast. Marine Air Terminal--Shoot me now...

Buffalo--One bar offers the classic Weck sandwich which is pretty good and much better than anything you can get anywhere else near the airport. I think the Denny's a mile away is the only other option and that usually sucks.

Cincinnatti--One terminal offers Gold Star Chili. Not as good as Skyline but beggers can't be choosers.


Long Island-Islip--I don't think we've found anything decent there.

Sigh...

Jennifer

SAN STL BUF CVG ISP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditto on the breakfast pizza at Puck's (SAN). Great way to fill up before the flight to the islands.

I've also heard that there's a Maui Tacos at National. Anyone tried it? MT is one of my favorite cheap eats on Maui.

Two of my favorites:

Heathrow (London)--Haven't been there in awhile, but there used to be a large area where you could get all kinds of breakfast goodies--IMO, the British do breakfast very well--accompanies by freshly ground coffee in a press. I'll be passing through again this fall, so here's hoping it's still there. (And duty-free has some hard-to-find single malts.)

Incheon (Seoul): Good Korean fare available. (Stay away from the "Western" food.) You need to know a little about what you're ordering, but it's FAR better than most airport food. I've had two long layovers there and pretty much gorged myself both times.

DCA LHR ICN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at 8 am. sad.gif And that's when I'm going to be there, flying back to here.

Hey! There's always the Roundtable Pizza, which will serve you a greasy, overly-sauced slice with the toppings piled high. biggrin.gif

Actually, I used to love the place when I was younger. I could polish off a large by myself...

When MT first opened in Manhattan right around the corner from where I lived, I thought it was fun, a guilty pleasure. But my two meals at MT at National made me say "disgusting."

I've also heard that there's a Maui Tacos at National. Anyone tried it? MT is one of my favorite cheap eats on Maui.

OAK DCA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At National, there's Legal Seafood. Unfortunately, it's quite uneven. Last year I flew from National to Boston, and had the fried clams at Legal at National, and they were really pretty awful. Then I had the same thing at Legal at the Pru in Boston, and they were wonderful, and I went back and had them again and they were wonderful again. But the clams at National were tough, chewy little pieces of frustration. I think there's a Legal at Logan, but I haven't tried it.

I believe there are at least two Legals at Logan Airport. My wife and I ate at one in Terminal C last month and had an excellent lunch. I had a fantastic Maine crab roll (generous portions of tasty lump crab meat) and, of course, a cup of clam chowder. My wife had a salad and steamed clams. For us, the service was professional and efficient. It doesn't get much better than that at an airport.

BOS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the Atlanta airport, I once walked through a couple of terminals during a layover for Chick-fil-a, but I love me some Chick-fil-a.

ATL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not quite food, but JLock and I recently made quite a nice morning out of the Tequila sampling bar at the duty-free store at the Cancun airport. Best airport "meal" I have ever had.

CUN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not quite food, but JLock and I recently made quite a nice morning out of the Tequila sampling bar at the duty-free store at the Cancun airport. Best airport "meal" I have ever had.

You two are my kinda travelers. :unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Layover in Frankfurt on our way to Marseille...the frankfurter mit kartoffelsalat, Hefeweissen, and Bombay & tonic at the A gates terminal lounge was quite respectable. Plus a cup of coffee that would put any Starbucks to shame.

FRA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BWI has (had?) a Nathan's hot dog outpost which has been pretty reliable in the past.

Thanks,

Kevin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BWI has (had?) a Nathan's hot dog outpost which has been pretty reliable in the past.

That would be reliably slow, greasy, and disgusting. Nothing like the Nathan's of old - actually, I can buy Nathan's franks at Costco, and do a better job at home than the Nathan's stand in BWI.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That would be reliably slow, greasy, and disgusting. Nothing like the Nathan's of old - actually, I can buy Nathan's franks at Costco, and do a better job at home than the Nathan's stand in BWI.
Though it's been over six months since since I've been to BWI, it was no different than the hot dogs I had at their flagship on Surf Ave in Brooklyn back in April. Kobiyashi notwithstanding, perhaps Nathan's has jumped the shark.

K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Though it's been over six months since since I've been to BWI, it was no different than the hot dogs I had at their flagship on Surf Ave in Brooklyn back in April. Kobiyashi notwithstanding, perhaps Nathan's has jumped the shark.

K

Maybe I was there on a bad day, but last time there was so much grease on the dog I had to throw away the bun, which no longer resembled bread. And I only ate a few fries before I eclipsed the amount of grease from the dog. It gave the turbulence on my flight later that day a whole new dimension...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was in Austin a week ago. I didn't get out to many restaurants as I was visiting family but I just wanted to say that the Austin airport is one of the BEST food airports I've been in. The food outlets are run mostly by local establishments. Choices include Mexican from Matt's El Rancho, BBQ (brisket, sausage, ribs, etc) from the Salt Lick and Harlon's, and dessert from Amy's Ice Cream. There's the odd Quizno's and Auntie Anne's but you can totally skip those because of all the other good choices.

Even nicer, there is frequently live music at one or more locations throughout the airport. It's a great place to pass the time waiting for a flight and have some good local food/entertainment while doing do.

From over in the Austin thread. I still think the Austin airport is one of the best as far as food choices go.

I also recall having a pretty darn good lobster roll at (one of) the Legal Seafoods in Logan. With plenty of time before the flight, it was nice to have a sit-down, white tablecloth meal that wasn't rushed, but was served efficiently and was much better than the usual fast-food options.

AUS BOS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In Memphis, one of the terminals (blanking at the moment; it's the obviously new one) has a decent barbecue joint. Something-something Interstate Barbecue. My pulled pork sandwich was okay, but the meaty baked beans were absolutely fantastic. I'm heading there again in two weeks so I'll pay more attention to details.
It is Jim Neely's Interstate, and you are right it is tasty. Not quite as good as the original, but still better than any other airport BBQ.

When I traveled for business I used to have to head to the land of weak beer (Salt Lake City) too often. Thankfully, I was always able to stop in Denver going to and from this beautiful beerless land. I would make sure to stop by the Colorado Sports Bar for a large Fat Tire. Beware of the horrible food, consider this is a beer only place.

Surprisingly the Hilton at Charles de Gaulle has a decent restaurant, two years ago I had a fantastic foie gras terrine at the restaurant.

MEM SLC DEN CDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is Jim Neely's Interstate, and you are right it is tasty. Not quite as good as the original, but still better than any other airport BBQ.
Yes, Neely's is nice... avoid the other BBQ spot with all due haste. I like the bbq turkey salad from Neelys.

Another option in the Memphis airport is Backyard Burgers. Similar to the 5 Guys disaster a local chain that got destroyed in franchising, Backyard Burgers makes a pretty good blackened chicken sandwich. (code word "pretty good")

Now, in Detroit there is a Westin that you can access directly from a terminal. They have TSA agents stationed to screen you when you come back to the terminal, but it is directly attached. I have had some good meals at the hotel and better yet it has a beautiful lobby with lots of water, greenery and slate. Westin at Detroit Airport

MEM DTW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BWI update - terminal C is definitely better than the others (I think I flew OUT via B and back via C today). I spotted, but did not eat at, a Phillips Crab. At Cincinnati's airport, stuff shuts down EARLY. When I arrived around 8:30 on Tuesday night, just after my connecting flight left unfortunately, about 3/4 of the shops were closed or closing. Sheesh.

[Hotel tip: if you get stuck in Cincy's airport overnight, do NOT let your airline put you up at the Microtel in Florence, Kentucky]

CVG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now