The World’s Best Airport Dining
Among the indignities of airline travel – weather delays, canceled flights, full-body X-rays – airport food has traditionally occupied the niche of “insult added to injury.” But while the vast majority of pre-flight offerings fall squarely into the rubber nachos and grease-burger realm, the idea of airport (fine) dining is no longer a categorical oxymoron. These days, a number of international airports offer food that rivals what’s served by some of the world’s leading restaurants. Below, we offer seven of our favorites.
One Flew South, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Terminal E, Atlanta
Global cuisine featuring ingredients from the South is the draw at this 4-year-old restaurant from chefs Duane Nutter and Todd Richards. An impressive array of sushi and more comfort-oriented foods such as meatloaf and a pulled duck sandwich make up the menu, which also features a long list of cocktails, beer, sake and wine.
Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food, Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, London
Given how much press he gets for his infamous temper, it’s all too easy to forget that Gordon Ramsay is also a pretty fantastic chef. His restaurant in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 offers travelers a variety of pasta, risotto, dry-aged steaks and to-go picnic hampers. And as a bonus for early-morning fliers, the restaurant – which also boasts an impressive cocktail list – serves a classic English breakfast.
Saboten Tonkatsu, Changi International Airport, Terminal 1, Singapore
Deep-fried breaded pork cutlets are the raison d’être of this well-respected Japanese chain, which was founded in Tokyo in 1966. The pork hails from mature pigs, meaning the fat content is higher and the meat therefore juicier and quite tender. Both loin and tenderloin are on the menu, along with deep-fried seafood, curries, and hot pots.
The Salt Lick, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas
An Austin institution for over 40 years, the Salt Lick answered many a carnivorous traveler’s prayer when it opened this airport offshoot. Pulled pork tacos, ribs, and anything involving brisket are among its charms, while breakfast tacos are the first line of defense against an early-morning flight.
La Moraga, Málaga – Costa del Sol Airport, Terminal 3, Málaga, Spain
One of Spain’s most celebrated chefs, Dani García has won Michelin stars for two of his restaurants. In García’s so-called gastrobar, diners can feast on a variety of tapas, desserts, and more substantial dishes like oxtail burgers; a short, but well-appointed wine list adds extra incentive to while away a layover in the sleek, minimalist restaurant.
Hung’s Delicacies, Chek Lap Kok Airport, Terminal 2, Hong Kong
An outpost of one of the city’s most popular bistros, Hung’s is so popular that it’s said to draw not only travelers, but also locals. The inventive dishes are the work of Chef Lai Wai-Hung, whose cooking has earned his original restaurant a Michelin star three years in a row. Duck tongues in Chinese liquor, Chinese marinated goose slices, and Chua Lam’s Mixed Noodle are three of the restaurant’s signature dishes: needless to say, this is a restaurant that rewards adventurous appetites.
Piquillo, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 5, New York
Created by Alex Raij, the chef-owner of New York’s El Quinto Pino, La Vara and Txikito, this tapas bar claims to be the first of its kind in a U.S. airport. Spanish cheeses and charcuterie share menu space with seasonal specials using greenmarket ingredients, and more substantial fare comes in the form of bocadillos and entrées like lamb chops and cazuelas, stews served in clay crockpots.