15 U.S. Airports With Surprisingly Good Food

tofu poke bowl


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tofu poke bowl

Elevated Food Offerings

Airport food doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation, and for a long time that bad rap was well deserved. For decades, airport dining has primarily consisted of unhealthy fast food at inflated prices. Over the past several years, however, a transformation has been taking place at airports across the country, with the introduction of healthy food choices, locally sourced food items and vendors, and mouthwatering celebrity-chef restaurants. Exactly which airports are leading this charge? We asked travelers and travel industry insiders to tell us their foodie favorites.

Related: 16 of the Most Passenger-Friendly Airports in the World

Trejo's tacos
Trejo's Tacos/Yelp

Los Angeles International Airport

A full-time travel blogger, Kashlee Kucheran spends a great deal of time each year at airports. Having logged countless hours jet setting, Kucheran's clear favorite airport for food is LAX. "Los Angeles is the best airport for anything vegan, gluten-free, probiotic, or whole food friendly," said Kucheran, CEO and editor of Travel Off Path. "I have never seen so many trendy and health-packed items in an airport before." Among her top choices at LAX is Earth Bar. "Not only can you get a kefir sparkling soda and a tofu poke bowl, but you can also grab supplements, protein powders, or antioxidant packed smoothies," Kucheran said. Other top foodie places to check out at LAX include Trejo's Tacos, which was created by actor Danny Trejo (and is legendary for its street tacos). For those who don't mind splurging a bit, there's Petrossian Caviar & Champagne Bar in LAX's international terminal, which offers a vast selection of not only caviar but also wine.

Related: Stuck on a Layover? Secrets to Beat Boredom in 19 Major Airports

 Salt Lick Barbecue
Salt Lick Barbecue/Yelp

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (Texas)

The Austin-Bergstrom airport is another growing favorite among frequent travelers. As co-owner of CamJon Travel, Cameron DeJong travels several times a month for business and says Austin-Bergstrom stands out from the pack because it focuses on sourcing food offerings locally. "When you become more micro-targeted like Austin is with their restaurants, everything is better," said DeJong, whose personal favorite food haunt is Salt Lick Barbecue (between Gates 20 and 21). "The main love here is the to-go briskets that I can grab and take to business partners, family, friends, or anyone I am visiting. They make it very easy to grab and go," DeJong said. Another top choice here is Second Bar + Kitchen, which offers notable vegan and health-conscious options, DeJong says.

Root Down and Modern Market
Root Down/Yelp

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport's food scene has also been receiving rave reviews from travel regulars. "They have lots of health-conscious and gluten-free options like Root Down and Modern Market in concourses C and B, and for those who want some gluten-free junk food, Smashburger just opened in Concourse C as well," said Kristin Addis, a travel blogger of eight years and creator of Be My Travel Muse. "When I travel, which is all the time, I want to keep up my healthy eating habits, so it's great that Denver has this in mind with their options." That said, Addis points out that there's also a Ben & Jerry's (A gates) for when you need a treat. The airport has a user-friendly website where you can search food offerings by concourse and find out the cost of the food at each provider.

Bun Mee
Bun Mee/Yelp

San Francisco International Airport

Given its location in a world-class foodie city, it's not exactly surprising that San Francisco's airport is a top pick for its diverse and progressive food offerings. "With its proximity to the birthplace of farm-to-table movement, SFO offers some of the best airport cuisine in the world," said Kelly Soderlund, travel trends expert from TripIt. One of the most recent highlights here is the Manufactory Food Hall in the international terminal. The hall includes offerings from the chefs behind legendary San Francisco restaurants Tartine, Cala, and Kin Khao. Try the street tacos at Cala. At Kamin, the spin-off of Kin Khao, don't miss the gluten-free fried chicken. And Tartine, a legendary bakery, serves everything from quiche to croissants. Additionally, if you have a hankering for Vietnamese food, don't miss Bun Mee (Terminal 3) where you can nosh on bahn mi and pho. 

One Flew South

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

There's clearly some debate among traveling foodies about just which airport deserves top honors in this list. Foodie and travel blogger Elisse Jo Goldstein-Clark says her first choice when it comes to dining options is Atlanta. "While there are a number of great airports for food, the best I have experienced in the U.S.A. by far is Hartsfield-Jackson Airport," said Goldstein-Clark, who enjoys eating at One Flew South in Terminal E. "This is my airport happy place, and when I fly out of or through Atlanta, I always try to cut myself a couple of hours so I can go there and indulge in their sushi and special unfiltered sake, cocktails, wines, duck confit sandwiches with fig-toasted peanut relish, and other yumminess." Paschal's, which serves Southern specialties, is another legendary option in Atlanta's airport.

Taste of Rochester
Taste of Rochester/Yelp

Greater Rochester International Airport (New York)

One of the smaller airports on this list, Rochester, or ROC, has been working hard to raise its profile, and a hyper-local dining option has helped establish ROC as a notable place to dine. The Taste of Rochester together some of the city's best-loved restaurants and iconic regional cuisine. Menu items include everything from Nick Tahou's locally famous "Garbage Plates" that feature macaroni salad, home fries, and hot meat sauce to a locally made Zweigle's hot dog and gourmet chicken sandwiches. Additional local favorites include Guglielmo's pasta in a cup and Cheesy Eddie's carrot cakes.

Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar
Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar/Yelp

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport

Though she's traveled all around the globe, Mollie Krengel, founder of travel site Wild Bum, says her hometown airport in Minneapolis remains the most memorable for food. "Angel Food Bakery (in Terminal 1) is a favorite for someone craving a delicious treat as well as selling beloved Peace Coffee," Krengel said. "Minneapolis hotspot Hi-Lo Diner now has an outpost at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. And Verdi Market offers my personal favorite, Dogwood Coffee, as well as other organic snacks. And this list is always changing. It seems like they're constantly upgrading and keeping things fresh." Verdi Market in Terminal 1 is a gourmet food shop perhaps most well-known for its fresh-made pastries delivered daily from local creator Lynhall, while Hi-Lo Diner, also in Terminal 1, serves everything from Tex-Mex burritos to Mediterranean grain bowls. Krengel is not the only MSP Airport fan. It has been named the best airport in North America three times, a distinction due in no small part to its food selection.

Casavana Cafe
Casavana Cafe/Yelp

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (Florida)

Calling all Cuban-food fans. Becca Siegel, co-creator of Half Half Travel, says Fort Lauderdale's airport is one of the greatest across America thanks to its Cuban food offerings. "While other airports serve up 'American' dining or present travelers with quick-stop shops and fast food like burgers, pizza, or sushi, FLL serves the local flavors of the Latin American immigrants who've changed the food-scape of South Florida, and you can get your hands on some delicious Caribbean eats," Siegel said. For Cuban dining, try Sergio's, (Terminal 1) which has tostones, Cuban sandwiches, and empanadas, Siegel says. Casavana Cafe (Terminal G) offers Cuban coffee, pastelitos, and croqueta, she says. Lastly, don't miss Casavana Cuban Restaurant for Cuban sandwiches and sweet fried plantains. "You'll board your connection with a full stomach," Siegel said.

Tortas Frontera
Tortas Frontera/Yelp

O'Hare International Airport (Chicago)

Chef and restaurant owner Kevin Lawler, who hosts the Feasting Flyer podcast, tries to avoid eating on planes and in airports. But when he does get an airport meal, Lawler prefers the options at Chicago O'Hare. "Tortas Frontera is my favorite airport restaurant," Lawler said. "It's now in multiple terminals and offers options all day including breakfast." Tortas Frontera has locations in Terminals 1, 3, and 5 and is known for its Mexican specialties from chef Rick Bayless. Publican Tavern is another notable O'Hare option, Lawler says. The menu focuses on seasonal food offerings ranging from sandwiches and salads to craft beer and wine.

 Legal Test Kitchen
Legal Test Kitchen/Yelp

Logan International Airport (Boston)

Legal Sea Foods is a legendary Boston restaurant chain famous for its clam chowder, lobster rolls, and assortment of daily fresh catches. It should go without saying that this beloved institution has a few outposts at Logan International Airport, including a Legal Test Kitchen in Terminal A. "You never know what you will get when you arrive at the test kitchen since the only standard item on the menu is New England clam chowder, which is of superb quality. The other dishes can include all sorts of combinations of seafood and fusion cuisine," said travel blogger Philip Weiss, who names Boston's airport as his favorite place for airport food. Some of the other top choices at Logan include Berkshire Farms Market (Gate B20), where you'll find grab-and-go specialties featuring locally made products from western Massachusetts as well breakfast pastries from the city's South End. For another true Bostonian experience at the airport, try Kelly's Roast Beef (Gate B5), which has been serving roast beef sandwiches since the 1950s.

Abruzzo Steakhouse

Newark Liberty International Airport (New Jersey)

Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie spends a fair share of time in airports throughout the year, and among his favorite foodie spots is Newark's Liberty International Airport. "As a regular United flyer, I make my way through Newark's Terminal C most often, and the food options range wide," said Saglie of the terminal, which includes more than 55 new dining venues created by famous chefs. Saglie's top Terminal C picks include Abruzzo Steakhouse, which was created with assistance from Major Food Group's Mario Carbone and serves classic fare such as pastas, pizza, seafood, and steak. Also, not to miss in Terminal C is Tsukiji Fishroom, where fish is flown in multiple times a week from Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market. In Terminal A, Phillip's Seafood gets rave reviews for its lobster rolls, clam chowder, and Maryland-style crab. 

Noshville Delicatessen
Noshville Delicatessen/Yelp

Nashville International Airport

Nashville's foodie scene has been exploding for years now, so it's only natural that some of that food fabulousness would spill over to its airport. Several local favorites are showcased around the airport, says Taylor Randolph of ParkFellows, an online comparison site for airport parking. Neely's Bar-B-Que (Concourse B), for instance, serves up famous dishes such as barbecue nachos, barbecue spaghetti, and the Neely family's coleslaw. Another local favorite, Noshville Delicatessen, in the A/B food court, serves "Matzah Ball" soup, Reubens, and burgers. "Wash it all down with a craft beer from the Yazoo Beer Company, like the award-winning hefeweizen or the Sly Rye Porter," Randolph said.

blue star donuts

Portland International Airport (Oregon)

Portland's airport easily lives up to its host city's world-renowned culinary reputation, says Randolph of ParkFellows. "Foodies should make a beeline to The Country Cat (North Lobby) for a farm-to-table experience from celebrity chef Adam Sappington," Randolph said. "The iron skillet fried chicken and country ham are absolutely divine." What's more, if you missed the world-famous Blue Star Donuts while visiting Portland, it's not too late. These, too, can be found at the airport, Randolph says. "Blue Star Donuts has an outpost in the PDX airport serving up fresh brioche doughnuts with eclectic flavors like blueberry bourbon basil and raspberry rosemary buttermilk," Randolph said. One more note, check out the 15 types of Oregon craft beer at Deschutes Brewery (Concourse D).

Primanti Brothers
Primanti Brothers/Yelp

Pittsburgh International Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport offers some of the city's best and most beloved food to travelers. Top stops include the famous Primanti Brothers (Center Core, between concourses B and C), where travelers can get their fix of french fries and coleslaw on a sandwich. German beer is on tap at Penn Brewery (Concourse A), which is an outpost of the oldest brewery in the city. Alternatively, spend some time learning about Pittsburgh's role in the Prohibition era at Wigle @ Pitt (Terminal A).

La Carreta
La Carreta/Yelp

Miami International Airport

Miami is home to a sprawling airport with numerous terminals, so the food options can be a bit dizzying. You'll find everything from a memorable cold beer to Cuban cuisine and dozens of options in between. Corona Beach House, in Concourse D, is where you'll want to stop for the beer, not to mention tacos, burgers, or breakfast. Also in Concourse D are La Carreta, a Miami classic serving Cuban cuisine such as empanadas, and Lorena Garcia Cocina for an authentic Caribbean meal. In Concourse E, don't miss Viena, one of the airport's newest restaurants, which features made-from-scratch foods created with freshly sourced ingredients provided by area farmers.