Written by Jennifer Cullen
I used to dread airport layovers with their big chunks of unproductive time. But these days, I can spend my time between flights checking my email, watching a movie on my computer and even enjoying some great food. No more sandwiches tightly wrapped in plastic or salads stuffed into boxes. Over the last couple of years, airports have become showcases for upscale restaurants that use quality, locally-sourced ingredients.
Here are some of my favorite airport restaurants:
If you’re flying cross country, I hope you have some time in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. At Rick Bayless’ Tortas Fronteras, the signature dish is the torta, a griddle-baked sandwich filled with ingredients like beer-braised short ribs or crispy crunchy chicken.
At The Plant Cafe Organic in the San Francisco International Airport, the food is prepared with local, seasonal and organic produce. Some healthy and tasty options include a whole wheat breakfast burrito and an award-winning veggie burger. Or order the “Immune Builder”, a juice concocted with carrots, apples, lemon and ginger.
Cigar City Brewing operates a brewhouse in the terminal at Tampa International Airport and serves Cuban inspired cuisine. Pair up a flight of award-winning local craft beer with a tasty Cuban sandwich, the charcuterie board or a cheese plate. You can also get a black bean soup made with the brewery’s own Espresso Brown Ale.
For Texas barbecue, make a stop at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and pay a visit to The Salt Lick. The brisket sandwich, on a soft roll and topped with their tangy BBQ sauce, along with a side of cole slaw, will keep your stomach happy while you’re traveling.
I don’t expect an airport to have quality, inventive sushi but One Flew South, in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, does. Their Crunch Roll is composed of shrimp poached in rice wine, cucumber, puffed rice and eel sauce. If sushi isn’t your thing, dig into a Kobe beef burger topped with a goat cheese and shiitake mushroom spread.
Jennifer Cullen is a lover of travel and food, a mother and stepmother of teens and a newly converted fitness devotee. Which is timely since she is quickly approaching 50. She writes about her modern family life at Life’s Dewlaps. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.