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Dining at Reagan National Airport


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I flew from National at least once a month for 2 1/2 years. Matsutake isn't bad if you have time to kill, decent entrees but the sushi didn't impress me. The little wine bar whose name escapes me is a nice place to sit with a glass of overpriced wine. I always flew from C, which has dismal options past security. I made the Five Guys mistake once - eating heavily before a flight is never a good idea, and smelling like a greasy burger & fries for the duration is gross - that, and all the salt will make you swell up. California Tortilla is mediocre at best, and the airport location doesn't improve it, but a salad with chicken will fill you up without making you ill.

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I would personally like to meet the person who signed the contract with Westfield to put those horrible eateries in Concourse B and make them eat the "food" available from these places. (I have no idea what A and C have as I almost always fly AA...bet I'll have to find out pretty soon). You can't even get a decent cuppa Joe or a bagel down there. Yes, the "pizza" place and Fuddrucker's (really?) and Jet Rock Bar and Grill sell fascimiles of these basic food items. Even then, selection is severely limited. Plain "bagels" and maybe whole wheat. But trust me. Starvation would be a much, much better choice. There is a Dunkin Donuts kiosk so you can get a halfway decent cup of coffee. We always take the first flight out, so we would rather not have breakfast at home (at 4 a.m.). But now we pack our own breakfast. In a pinch, CIBO (outside security) has some decent pre-packaged sandwiches.

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I got stuck at Jet Pack Rock Whatever bar last weekend, and it wasn't even good for an airport bar. Solid beer selection, but disinterested service. I made the mistake of ordering the barbeque chicken salad, which was a joke. Literally. I laughed when it arrived, a trough of lettuce topped with a pound of shredded cheese and at least as much chicken, drizzled with an inoffensive but clearly bottled sauce (KC Masterpiece?) and served with a side of ranch. It's the kind of dish that is so damn big that the people sitting next to you stare when it arrives, and then peek back regularly to monitor how much you're able to eat.

I like Matsutake. Fine food with gracious service.

I must disagree on Cibo, though. Knowing I didn't have any food at home, I picked up the "Italian" prepackaged sandwich after flying back in and got a slab of average cold cuts sprinkled with some sawdust herbs and topped with a single leaf of lettuce on really not good bread with no condiments. Not worth it.

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My Stuck Story took place last week, at the Center Pier checkpoint, between Terminal B and C, at the TGIFriday's. I wound up with a chicken tender meal auditioning for the frozen food section at a bottom-tier, two-customers-a-week supermarket. The plate arrived featuring cakey-thick breading, cold interior, and overseasoned fries. My heart pounded for two hours from all the preservatives, beating in time to self-flagellation for such a poor choice.

A hummus and vegetable sandwich from Cosi, just down the way, would have been a much better idea. Hell, sock lint and pocket mints would have been a better idea.

I was a sucker for the view. The bar tables at Friday's align with an excellent perspective of the planes. Which is an OK way to kill some time. But if you go, liquid diet only.

(sample)

(siren seat scene)

(enclosed)

post-5654-0-50078000-1325372187_thumb.jp

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I've been in and out of National a couple times a month over the last decade, mostly for breakfast, in the C concourse. As such, I've basically eaten through all the options, and I'm here to report that they're all terrible. However, if you have no choice, then do one of two things: get a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich at 5 Guys (it can actually be tasty at times, and at least wont leave you hungry) or get a breakfast platter at Gordon Biersch, and get your eggs scrambled with cheese, then combine it in one bitefull with the homefires and sausage (the only way to get actual taste with your eggs).

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I'm usually in and out of Terminal B, very early in the morning. I opt for a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds and coffee from Mayorga.

I can't remember the last time I opted for something before security. I don't want to schlep food through security. I don't want to take a chance that the lines will get crazy later. I usually bring fruit and nuts to snack on too.

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At least you all have eateries. I usually fly out of Terminal A, land of crumbly-eats . Terminal A consists of:

Einstein Bagel (pre-security)

Some little bar (pre-security)

Jerry's

Another little bar

Fruity Eats and

Euro Cafe.

Better to walk from Terminal B/C area, grab a bite then settle into A. Otherwise, pack your own...

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I went to Mayorga in Terminal B on a crowded, (too) early morning on Xmas Eve. Latte was enjoyable and the bacon, cheddar and omelet-ish panini did the trick - messy but had some actual flavor, unlike the mall food court competition. But then again, only Au Bon Pain can mess up a breakfast sandwich that contains bacon and cheese. Takes a little while for the one staffer to get the panini freshly pressed and ready, but I would order it again.

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I've been in and out of National a couple times a month over the last decade, mostly for breakfast, in the C concourse. As such, I've basically eaten through all the options, and I'm here to report that they're all terrible. However, if you have no choice, then do one of two things: get a bacon-egg-cheese sandwich at 5 Guys (it can actually be tasty at times, and at least wont leave you hungry) or get a breakfast platter at Gordon Biersch, and get your eggs scrambled with cheese, then combine it in one bitefull with the homefires and sausage (the only way to get actual taste with your eggs).

For breakfast, I think that Five Guys bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is killer. I only wish that more Five Guys served breakfast.

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Ranch*1 served me the worst breakfast burrito I've ever had in my entire life. Quite possibly the worst breakfast I'd ever had. It was heinously bad, and I eat a lot of bad things.

well I had a similarly execrable one in the pseudo tex-mex place in Denver's C concourse (name mercifully never has registered; they do have a decent Bloody which is all I'd ever had there before, and actually pretty frequently) back in October but the worst breakfast of my life (so far) had to be the poached egg and corned beef hash in the Prince Edward County jail, Farmville VA, back in the spring of '72. By that standard, and after that experience, bad airport food and even 2 hour tarmac standstills have always been tolerable to me.

Wahoo-Wa! (I guess...)

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Some new dining options at National Airport.  Also, I heard that they are moving the security checkpoints upstairs so you will no longer be limited to only those shops in your terminal after security.

We ate at the new Legal Seafoods two weeks ago and were pleasantly surprised.  Granted, expectations were low after dining at other locations outside of Boston so it was a low bar to clear.  The space was comfortable and bright, the staff was very pleasant, food came quickly and my Tuna Burger was pretty good (not as good as Coastal Flats, whose off-menu Tuna Burger take the all time first place).  A much better option than the Friday's that was previously in that space.

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We ate at the new Legal Seafoods two weeks ago and were pleasantly surprised.  Granted, expectations were low after dining at other locations outside of Boston so it was a low bar to clear.  The space was comfortable and bright, the staff was very pleasant, food came quickly and my Tuna Burger was pretty good (not as good as Coastal Flats, whose off-menu Tuna Burger take the all time first place).  A much better option than the Friday's that was previously in that space.

I remember many years ago getting off a plane at National and grabbing a quart of clam chowder to go from Legal Seafoods in the airport to take home.  Looking at the map it seems it used to be in the location where Sam & Harry's is now.  I guess it closed and moved.  I never noticed.

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I remember many years ago getting off a plane at National and grabbing a quart of clam chowder to go from Legal Seafoods in the airport to take home.  Looking at the map it seems it used to be in the location where Sam & Harry's is now.  I guess it closed and moved.  I never noticed.

The airport, or the company that oversees the concessions there, kicked Legal out in 2009 and leased the space to Sam and Harry's. Legal Sea Foods filed a lawsuit over it, but it didn't get far.

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We finally bailed on the lighting disordered game, but first my husband and I shared an Italian hero from the Isabella stand.  The chicken parm looked like it would be good, but I figured something designed to be cold might be a better bet.  It was very good.  I would recommend that, though $14.25 is a ballpark price that I would not want to pay otherwise.

A couple of innings later, I got a Shawafel sandwich from their stand, having liked the one I got before.  This time it was actually warm when I got back to the seats, but the game was suspended because lights went out in the meantime :blink: .  It wasn't as moist as the one I got before and I wouldn't rate it as highly as the Italian hero.

I cannot stop reading your post as "but my first husband and I shared an Italian hero ...."

You can always try the highly anticipated, much-ballyhooed Isabella restaurant food-service outlet opening at Reagan Airport, and see if that's priced at anything less than $14.25. If you're lucky and get the right seat, you might be able to spot the catering vehicle (*) carting the food towards the restaurant across the tarmac.

Ah, the world of celebrity "chefs" - it's why I founded donrockwell.com, and I'm so proud to be a part of it.

(*) According to the Wikipedia article, these vehicles are equipped with a rear body, lifting system, platform, and an electro-hydraulic control mechanism. That's just plane bad-ass.

Last week, I was in a Reston office building, and look what I found hidden in a vending area on the top floor!

post-2-0-17377900-1437187285_thumb.jpg <--- If this doesn't arouse you, see your doctor. I mean, seriously. Estate-Grown! You can tell Puck's got a boner in that photo. Yeah, it takes a few years of experience and know-how, but an expert can tell.

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And here I thought I was being helpful by taking this picture: post-2-0-24231300-1455704812_thumb.jpg

Then, I plugged in, and found this:

"Shopping & Dining Directory" on flyreagan.com

Oops! Looks like all of us publications shouldn't have been going to so much trouble getting the scoop on where to dine at Reagan. :)

In all seriousness, that link is all you need; in terms of "reviews," I guess that's another story. Sitting here at the gate, my advice is:

1) Find out which terminal and gate your flight is leaving from the *before* you come to the airport.

2) Look at that link for possibilities of where to dine, shop, etc., so you'll know what interests you (instead of wandering around aimlessly, like we all do).

3) Once you click on that link, take note of "National Hall" (which is pre-security (*)) vs. Terminals A, B, and C (which are post-security).

3) Head for your destination and enjoy.

I also want to mention that if you're early, you should take time to stroll National Hall (the concourse connecting Terminals B and C), and admire the artwork, particularly the tile mosaics on the floor - there's one by Frank Stella (it's not any more compelling than the others, but it's still quite nice). As you stroll the concourse, look upwards and admire its beautiful structure (it's shown in the National Hall link, as is one of the circular tile mosaics).

Can you tell I'm having a better morning today than yesterday?

(*) Note in that first National Hall link that they're planning to build a "Secure National Hall" as well, so expect the terminology to change in the future.

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