12 US Airports With Gourmet Food Worth The Price

While plenty of people fly far and wide in search of great food, sometimes the food offered along the way is less than satisfying. Whether it's a sad-looking hamburger you overpaid for during a quick layover or that bag of peanuts you're devouring on your flight, there's no reason to settle for terrible food at the airport. If you know where to look, there are plenty of gourmet dining options to try in airports across the country.

Highlights include an Atlanta airport eatery with a Michelin star, a handful of restaurants led by James Beard award-winning chefs, and several must-try up-and-coming eateries. So, next time you find yourself at the airport, make sure to skip the food court and instead find a bit of peace in the travel chaos by taking the extra time to settle in, enjoy a drink, and dine on a meal that will start your trip off right.

1. Legal Sea Foods at Boston Logan International Airport

The Boston Logan International Airport, Massachusetts, has become a culinary destination for travelers, and Boston's best-loved, homegrown seafood eatery, Legal Sea Foods, is one of the primary reasons. The restaurant has five different locations in the airport, so no matter where your flight journey takes you, it's likely you'll be lucky enough to run into one that's within a convenient distance of your gate. 

During a visit to Legal Sea Foods, you'll enjoy time-honored Neflow England favorites like clam chowder and lobster rolls that are a must-try while you're in the region. And, while some of the dishes, like the grilled salmon or New England crab roll, might cost you a little more than your run-of-the-mill airport restaurant, it's well worth it to try this iconic restaurant. Their clam chowder is even so lauded it's been served at almost every presidential inauguration since 1981.

2. Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

The Dallas Fort Worth airport is a major travel hub with over 130 restaurants and bars on-site to feed the roughly 200,000 hungry travelers passing through each day, and while there is no shortage of chain eateries and fast food restaurants there's no reason to settle for anything less than gourmet. If you want a fine dining experience, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen is a must-try. 

The French Quarter-inspired restaurant has all of the New Orleans classics you'd expect, including Louisiana gumbo, a crawfish platter, as well as special occasion dishes like filet mignon and lobster tail. However, if you want something a bit more adventurous, it might be one of the few airport restaurants where you can try alligator meat. Regardless of what you choose, pair it with one of their fun and vibrant cocktails like the Swampthing made with raspberry and melon liqueurs layered with frozen hurricane and margarita. 

3. One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

As the busiest airport in the world, the Atlanta airport  has no shortage of great dining options, including the only Michelin-starred restaurant in an airport, One Flew South. The restaurant opened in 2009 and has since been recognized twice by the James Beard Foundation for its outstanding service — a difficult feat for an airport restaurant, many of which are known for slow and unpredictable customer service.

One Flew South also offers a variety of dishes, making it a great stop if you're traveling with a group. From an open-faced meatloaf sandwich with pimento cheese and barbecue sauce to spicy tuna rolls, there's something for everyone. The eatery is also known for its excellent cocktails, like the Smoke Signals crafted with mezcal, avion reposado, ancho reyes, bitters, and agave syrup as well as the Red Eye Martini with cold brew coffee, espresso liqueur, vodka, and simple syrup.

4. The Tavern at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Phoenix's airport has made a name for itself by featuring several locals' favorite restaurants across its terminals — from the best-loved Mexican eatery Barrio Queen to the "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives-" featured breakfast hotspot, Matt's Big Breakfast. However, for something gourmet, it's well worth dining at The Tavern.

The restaurant showcases the culinary mastermind of Iron Chef winner and James Beard Award-nominated chef Mark Tarbell who operates New American restaurant Tarbell's. No matter what time of day travelers are flying, there's an opportunity to enjoy The Tavern's menu. From the brioche roll sandwich with fennel sausage and scrambled egg for breakfast to The Best BLT in Phoenix with challah bread for lunch, or the spice-rubbed flat iron steak for dinner, it's hard to go wrong, especially if you're ending your meal with the house-made coconut cream pie. The well-curated wine menu and cocktail list are also impressive for an airport restaurant. 

5. Mercantile Dining & Provision at Denver International Airport

Denver's airport has more than 75 dining options including familiar fast food restaurants as well as a variety of local favorites. However, if you want to relax and enjoy a high-end, dining experience with local flavors your best option is Mercantile Dining & Provision. 

The restaurant, led by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alex Sidel brings the farm-to-table dining approach that made its Denver eatery a local favorite to the airport with dishes like miso salmon rice bowl (with ajitama egg substitute shrimp and furikake) a wagyu pastrami sandwich, salt-roasted beet salad and pan-seared halibut. And, the menu is also perfect for taking your time to enjoy a meal with your travel companions amidst the airport pandemonium with shareable starters like the Market Provision Board or lamb meatballs with tzatziki. For an extra indulgent meal, add one of their craft cocktails, like the mezcal-based Scullivers Travels or Mercantile Margarita with grapefruit juice, lime juice, Campari, Cointreau, and simple syrup. 

6. The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck at Los Angeles International Airport

Travelers likely won't be surprised to learn that the glamour of Hollywood extends to its massive nearby Los Angeles airport, LAX. While the airport is known for its A-list celebrity sightings and high volume of flights, it's also become well-known for its decadent dining options. 

One luxurious option is the celebrity-chef-led restaurant, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, a Michelin-starred chef known for his impact on the rise of California cuisine. It's a must-visit, especially if you're not able to experience one of Puck's other eateries — like Cut or Spago — during your time in Los Angeles. For an airport dining experience to remember, we recommend dining at The Kitchen for dinner and ordering one of the restaurant's signature pasta dishes like the classic spaghetti or rigatoni alfredo with roasted chicken, mushrooms, peas, and goat cheese. The latter is on a limited-time menu, which might mean it could be replaced when you arrive. If so, look at it as an opportunity to order one of the other delicious items from Puck's lauded airport eatery. 

7. Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi Bar at Chicago O'Hare International Airport

Unlike many of the other eateries featured on this list, you won't find Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi Bar outside of the airport as its only location is within Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. So, if you're lucky enough to be traveling through The Windy City, it's a must-visit for great, high-end airport seafood.

Guests can order the straightforward yet satisfying menu of vibrant and colorful sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri, oysters, and poke bowls. Plus, each of their sushi rolls is made to order, so diners can watch as their roll is perfectly crafted just for them. For dessert, choose from the small but mighty menu that includes mochi ice cream and red bean jelly. Then, to complete the experience, pair your meal with one of their Japanese spirits such as OAwa Yuki sparkling sake or Hakutsuru plum wine. 

8. Chalice Café at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The Charlotte Airport is one of the country's busiest airports and is quickly growing with expansion plans that include plenty of new restaurants, but Chalice Café remains a go-to for foodieblogs who want a high-end yet light meal while traveling. While the comfortable, bistro-style restaurant is inspired by the Belgium beer brand, Stella Artois, the restaurant isn't just for beer lovers. Cocktail and wine enthusiasts will find plenty of options to pair with their meal here too.

The menu is small but a well-curated selection of Mediterranean dishes, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Light bites include roasted red pepper hummus, a cheese plate, creamy tomato soup, and a variety of salad options. For a more substantial meal option, diners can choose between flatbreads and sandwiches, with options that include a tomato and basil flatbread, a warm mozzarella and tomato sandwich, or the grilled chicken BLT.

9. Juliett at Portland International Airport

A tough travel day often calls for a great drink, and there's few places better to indulge in a cocktail, beer or wine than Juliett, one of the country's first airport craft cocktail bars. The beautiful, aviation-themed bar opened in 2022 and feels high-end, instantly transporting you out of the hustle and bustle of the airport with its selection of Portland-grown alcoholic beverages. It's also notable for paying homage to female aviators with portraits of those who helped women break into the industry, such as Bessie Coleman, the first African American and Native woman to hold a pilot's license.

The food is worth trying at Juliett, despite its small menu, with a variety of elevated comfort food dishes including the French-inspired croque monsieur to salad Niçoise. And, while you're chowing down you can enjoy craft cocktails developed by Adam Ohlsson of Lightning Bar Collective, beers brewed by Fracture Brewing, and sustainably sourced wines from Coopers Hall Winery.

10. Emeril's Table at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

The New Orleans airport has plenty of great dining and drinking options, but if you have the luxury of time, Emeril's Table is a must-try for a sit-down meal, with options that range from pizza to gumbo. While it might not be to quite the same standard as its celebrity chef founder Emeril Lagasse's renowned, flagship restaurant – Emeril's New Orleans — it's still several steps up from your typical, underwhelming airport eatery. Plus, it offers a great opportunity to enjoy a menu created by a beloved restauranteur and TV personality.

The menu, which largely consists of New Orleans' classics and wood-fired pizza, also offers options that have been approved by Eat Fit NOLA dietitians which will help you to stay feeling healthy throughout your travels. Favorites include fried catfish, po'boys, and gumbo (of course) which offers a taste of Louisiana even from the airport. 

11. Reservoir at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Reservoir, led by Chef Robert Wiedmaier who was named Washington's Chef of the Year in 2009, feels like a European bistro hidden within the airport thanks to its charming décor and French-inspired dishes. Even if you're not jetting off to Europe, diners will enjoy French-inspired dishes such as the Crab Cake Benedict for breakfast or a Duck Confit for dinner

However, even less adventurous eaters will enjoy its comfort food staples like a burger and rotisserie chicken. Regardless of which direction you choose, it's essential to start any meal at Reservoir with a cheese plate and end it with their decadent peanut butter pie set in an Oreo crust and topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and fresh berries. Additionally, each dish is made with fresh produce, meats, and fish sourced directly from the region — allowing you to experience the tastes of Washington D.C. with a European flair.

12. Vero at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport

While pizza might not sound like a gourmet dining option, James Beard award-winning Minneapolis chef Ann Kim takes her thin-crust pizzas to the next level with unique flavor combinations that elevate her creations above your everyday pizza to something truly special. She's become a well-known Minneapolis restauranteur after opening her first restaurant Pizzeria Lola in 2010 and has since gone on to open Hello Pizza, Young Joni, and Snooki & Mimi. 

When at the Minneapolis Airport, pizza lovers must try the inventive pies she's become known for such as the Hot Hawaiian topped with mozzarella, bacon bits, pineapple, and jalapeno, and the Chicken Alfredo. Add a glass of wine or a cocktail and you'll forget your travel woes in no time. An added plus is that the dining area is spacious enough to spread out and enjoy — no eating crammed against your suitcase necessary. 

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