Andrew Zimmern's top airport dining spots
November 16th, 2012
03:15 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

A lot of important questions come up at Thanksgiving: turkey brining, pro or con; cornbread stuffing, yes or no; and whether or not that stuffing should be baked in that turkey. (If you answered pro brined turkey to the first question, the answer to the last question is no.)

But now that airport food has improved so drastically, the most relevant question might be: Is anyone even hungry for Thanksgiving dinner, after they pigged out so much at the terminal?

I asked my very favorite frequent flier, Andrew Zimmern, who travels the world for his show "Bizarre Foods" on the Travel Channel, for his favorite dining spots in airports. He obliged by giving me his favorite places to eat in 12 airports around the country. From now on, I’m booking all my flights with stopovers in Minneapolis.

For more great intel from Zimmern, check out Now, take it away, A.Z.!

The cooked food in airports in America used to downright offensive; food overseas was worlds better. But now there’s enough fun places to eat here in the US that I have to keep a list going for where to chow down when I am on the go.

The TSA won't swipe your pie – but will they take the cake?

Croque Madame - John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 2: New York City
Andrew Carmellini makes some great sandwiches and salads, including the chicken salad sandwich, but I always seem to order the same thing: the superb, cheesy, salty croque-madame, made with real Gruyère cheese.

One Flew South - Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Terminal E: Atlanta, Georgia
This is a great place to grab a real meal. Self-described as Southern soul, the place also has a sushi bar, and while most restaurants that try to be all things to all people end up being nothing to anyone, this place is the odd man out. If the lamb ragout is on the menu, grab some. Real food for travelers.

Custom Burger by Pat LaFrieda - LaGuardia Airport, Terminal D: New York City
This place makes a thick, creamy coffee milk shake to pair with my griddled plain burger that hits the spot whenever I am flying through NYC. Think Shake Shack-style and you’ve got it.

Legal Sea Foods - Logan Airport, Terminals A, B & C: Boston, Massachusetts
If my Boston layover is longer than two hours, I like to leave the airport and dine on the far side of the Callahan Tunnel (three-minute cab ride) at Santarpio’s for some pizza, grilled lamb and sausage. But if I don’t have time to leave, I love Legal. Good raw bar; nice soups; tasty, fresh calamari; and on several occasions, a nice lobster roll at the Test Kitchen in Terminal A. Terminal C has the traditional restaurant.
Skewers By Morimoto - Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 5
Morimoto’s new fast, casual concept is superb. It’s everything you want from an airport experience—fast and easy with tasty grub. They have really tasty kushiyaki (grilled robata-style meat/poultry/seafood over rice) and kushiage (panko-crusted or tempura-fried). Both are popular snack-y street/bar food in Japan. Now you can see why.

Matsutake Sushi - Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Delta Terminal: Washington D.C. area
I like to stop at this Japanese restaurant for lunch. The food is very good; it’s a far cry from the prefab airport sushi everyone else serves. There is also a Five Guys burger shop that makes handmade burgers and fresh-cut fries to order, love that place.

Shapiro’s Deli - Indianapolis International Airport, Concourse B
If you are ever in this city, Shapiro’s makes a really good Reuben.

Tortas Frontera - O’Hare International, Terminals 1 & 3: Chicago, Illinois
There’s an amazing set of sandwiches at Rick Bayless’s Tortas Frontera. Despite the sometimes-lengthy waits for my torta to get made and boxed, I go out of my way to stop here every time I am in that airport.

Salt Lick - Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, West Terminal: Austin, Texas
At the airport there is a small outpost of the famous Salt Lick restaurant and the brisket is hand-cut to order and pretty darn tasty.

Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ - Memphis International Airport, Terminal B
The ribs at Jim Neely’s are as good as I have had in an airport. BBQ snobs may quibble, but they really hit the spot if you are a hungry, weary road warrior who is bored with the usual food court crap.

Acme Bread - Cowgirl Creamery and Tyler Florence Rotisserie Chicken - San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2
Speaking of food courts: Acme, Cowgirl Creamery and Tyler Florence’s chicken joint are all basically side-by-side here at SFO. Terrific on their own and if you combine all three you can have an amazing meal. T-Flo also does porchetta there that my travel-mates said was killer.

Taste of Shoyu, Surdyk’s Flights, MinniBar - Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
I saved the best for last. In my hometown we have some of the best airport grub in the country. Shoyu, a ramen and rice shop that I adore, makes bowls of pork ramen and platters of crab fried rice with XO sauce and a fried egg on top. Surdyk’s will send you off on your travels with terrines, cheeses, jamón Iberico and anything else you need for the flight. I always go for a prosciutto-and-mozz on pretzel bread that makes in-flight dining a pleasure.

There is also MinniBar from Andrew Zimmern, which makes the best airport sandwiches in America. But I am biased.

More from Food & Wine:

Best Airport Dining Spots

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

America’s Best Pie Spots

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Ultimate Thanksgiving Recipes

Previously - Airport food: the sumptuous and the scary and "Private" dining in the Denver airport and ABQ > LAX > SEA: a guide to layover eating

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Airlines • Airports • Andrew Zimmern • Bite • Celebrity Chefs • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Travel

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Andrew Zimmern cannot rate airport food because he is partnering with OTG who is trying to compete with other airport food operators. Therefore, he would only not just say good things about his Minnibar, but would also pick against airport restaurants being operated by OTG's competitor. Transparency, Andrew. Integrity is important in your field.

    January 3, 2014 at 1:30 am |
  2. Thomas

    Andrew is very cruel. He killed an American Bison and while they butchered/ skinned it while it was still alive and moving was SICK!! He laughed the whole time, making jokes. He also did this when he helped someone kill a poor Turtle. Do you really need to eat turtle? While the man chopped the head off and tortured it by filling the poor thing with air from a compressor he made comments which he though was so funny. SHAME ON YOU ANDREW, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

    December 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  3. Andrew

    Stop at Starbucks in indianapolis airport concourse B and meet Andrew the barista! huge fan haha

    November 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Valerie

      Does he look like David Beckham or Antonio Banderas??????

      November 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  4. Etta Cornbread

    Yaaaay Atlanta did good. Us 'necks are ok : ). I never go to Atlanta though and only live 22 miles away. Too crowded and too dangerous.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  5. Laurie Buchanan

    On a recent flight from Leon, Mexico to O'Hare - I enjoyed a layover dinner at the Hyatt in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Their salmon was exquisite, and the gin and tonic was generous and done right!

    November 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  6. AirportsMadeSimple

    Reblogged this on AirportsMadeSimple and commented:
    Add your thoughts here... (optional)

    November 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  7. JoeD

    For a REAL restaurant at an airport. Try the Gaslight Club, at O'Hare.
    Take the tunnel's that run under the whole airport to the basement of the Hilton [which is in the center of all of the terminals.
    Excellent beef.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  8. Paul J.

    I've been a frequent traveler to about 30 different states over the last several years. Whenever I'm at Chicago Midway, I make it a point toI stop at MANNY'S Their beef stew is among the best I've ever had. Might as well be home-made. The broth is deliciously seasoned, and it's full of tender beef and potato chunks. A perfect meal in the Windy City.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  9. GottaEatHere

    The best I've had is REAL FOOD at the International Airport in Houston. What a treat for paleo eaters!!!!

    November 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Alan Dean Foster

      At the same airport, also the small branch of Pappadoux...excellent creole/cajun food.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. Quan

    I always try to stop by Anthony's Restaurant and Fish Bar at Seatac. Best airport restaurant that I have had.

    November 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • GottaEatHere

      Agree. Really fresh food at good prices and nice service.

      November 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  11. mickey

    I have to say, despite the inane name, I enjoyed the food at Chef Jimmy's Bistro & Spirits in Denver Int'l.

    November 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • David DeLude

      Agree. I also like to stop at Mesa Verde in Terminal A. Venison sausage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees, and bison burgers. Good drinks. And now they're non-smoking.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Truth™

    I've been to the Minneapolis airport and had a fried walleye sandwich that was out of this world.

    November 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫ @ Turth

      No you didn't. You were there looking for Larry Craig.

      November 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫ @ Turth

        Or Mewelde Moore's whizzinator.

        LOL, that airport is exciting!

        November 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
        • Turth™@JDizz

          Minneapolis may work for some people, but for me working downtown was like being in one big Habitrail. While housed in a freezer. Could not get out of that town fast enough.

          November 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
        • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

          I can't stand Minnesota. Hate that place with a passion. St. Paul has a few cool buildings, but that's about it.

          November 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
        • n133

          You hate Minnesota with a passion? Must be too educated, healthy, and economically stable for you.

          November 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  13. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


    November 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Texas Eater

      OVARIES, Grins.

      November 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
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