Faced with concourses filled with ubiquitous shrink-wrapped sandwiches, greasy fast-food burgers, and processed pastries, the thought of eating at an airport is rarely appetizing. But that may soon change, as airports around the world are revamping aging terminals and the world’s best chefs, several of them Michelin-starred, are recognizing the value of serving exemplary meals before liftoff.
The Daily Meal’s list of the 31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World was carefully curated through a six-month-long nomination process. Globe-trotting gourmands that we are, The Daily Meal staff packed its bags, hit the road, canvassed concourses around the world, and compiled a preliminary list of more than 100 restaurants. We also consulted food and travel experts like Nikos Loukas of InflightFeed and other trusted sources and added their recommendations to those of The Daily Meal’s editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world.
Restaurants were judged in two categories: cuisine and style/décor/service. From innovative menu options to plating and presentation to freshness, quality, and taste, The Daily Meal evaluated each restaurant’s cuisine and only included the restaurants that were deemed to be extraordinary. For the second category, panelists evaluated the dining experience, from the restaurant’s interior and dining room ambiance to the service, voting for the restaurants that offer an unrivaled experience. Each restaurant had the chance to be voted on twice. Finally, the percentage scores from each category were averaged to arrive at the final ranking.
From Miami to Munich and Seattle to Singapore, there are dozens of outstanding airport restaurants, many a destination in their own right. From the Full Monty Breakfast (two free-range sausages, crispy smoked bacon, crispy black pudding, "Burford Brown" eggs, potatoes and sticky onions, roast tomatoes, field mushrooms, and organic baked beans) at Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks Bar at the U.K.'s Gatwick Airport to the seasonally changing prix fixe menu at Michelin-starred chefs Gilles Dupont and Thomas Byrne’s Altitude at Genève Aéroport in Geneva, dining at the 31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World is likely to make you wonder why you ever settled for a lackluster lunch during your last layover.
"When you’re flying, you want something healthy and light," said Iron Chef Cat Cora, whose Cat Cora’s Kitchen, located in three restaurants around the country, serves healthy fare made from sustainable, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. The grilled avocado Cobb salad and baked jalapeño poppers stuffed with feta cheese and breaded in panko breadcrumbs are enticing enough to make our list and make travelers think twice about eating plane food, unless, of course, you are referring to Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food at Heathrow Airport in London, which also made the list.
Whether you’re in the airport for a few minutes or a few hours, make sure you packed your appetite.
Have we missed any of your favorite airport restaurants? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.
The Daily Meal's Travel Editor Lauren Mack contributed to 31 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.