America's 10 Best Food Courts (Slideshow)

Think food courts are all just Cinnabon at the mall? Think again

10. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia

No one likes having a layover, but if you’re going to have a stop before your destination you might as well make it here. While airport food has progressed in recent years, it still gets a bad rap. Atlanta’s airport, however, has a number of exceptional options for you to enjoy while taking in some people-watching. Café Intermezzo offers lobster ravioli, Brioche Doree has French inspired pastries, or grab a veggie smoothie at Nature’s Table or experience fine dining in the midst of chaos at One Flew South. Its menu, dubbed “Southernational,” features signature cocktails, sushi, pork belly, and more. Also, there’s every traveler’s best friend: free wifi.

9. French Market, Chicago

While it has a market element of just under 30 meat, cheese, and produce vendors, the campus has more than 30 places to enjoy freshly prepared meals of an extremely diverse nature. You can snack on fries at Frietkoten Belgian Fries, eat a lobster roll from Da Lobsta or get soup and a sandwich at Spicy Monkey. The ambiance here feels like a high class, but unpretentious farmers market.

Number of options: 32

8. Westfield San Francisco Centre, San Francisco

There’s something for everyone with a number of classics (Auntie Anne’s, Charley’s Grilled Subs) and also an entire level dedicated to upscale dining. You can enjoy French cuisine at La Boulange, perfectly prepared steak at Lark Creek Steak, or modern Asian at M.Y. China. Make sure to also take in the architecture featuring a dome designed by the famous architect Albert Pissis and built in 1896.

Number of options: 44

7. Fashion Valley, San Diego

Of course you think of fashion when you think of California, but one must also have fine dining to go along with high fashion. Here you’ll find a number of stand-bys like California Pizza Kitchen but you can also savor a number of inventive sauce flavors at Stacked Food Well Built or enjoy a sustainably sourced sandwiches at True Food Kitchen. One of the more unique aspects of this mall is, due to the famously consistent climate of San Diego, there are plenty of al fresco dining options year-round.

Number of options: 18

6. New World Mall Food Court, New York

It’s 165,000 square feet of Asian and other ethnic dining options, shopping and, of course, karaoke. The main attraction here is the Southeast Asian food ranging from ramen to bento boxes and more like difficult-to-find authentic Malaysian or Vietnamese foods. This building also boasts a beautiful three story, cross-hatched wall of glass; great for reflecting views of the sun, the surrounding areas, and more. It’s also home to more than 100 retail operations.

Number of options: More than 32

5. Scottsdale Waterfront, Arizona

Take a break from shopping to enjoy pretzel fondue at gastropub Culinary Dropout, Mediterranean fare like bacon wrapped dates at Olive & Ivy Restaurant, or brick oven pizza at Sauce. What’s even better is that if you enjoy the shopping, dining, and waterfront view you can move in here, as there are a number of condos available.

Number of options: 6

4. NorthPark Center, Dallas

This mall pairs upscale shopping with upscale dining choices. As they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” including the food courts. You can enjoy New York style pizza at Famous Famiglia, Tex-Mex at Luna De Noche or snack on gourmet popcorn from Uptown Popcorn. You’ll need inspiring food options as you browse through a who’s who of fashion including Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and more. The mall also regularly attracts designers and has a number of fashion events and shows you can catch with your meal.

Number of options: 36

3. Water Tower Place Dining, Chicago

A respite from upscale shopping doesn’t have to be casual. For example, American Girl Café offers gourmet food on linen clad tables. You can also check out Freshii for healthy fast food options like brown rice bowls and wraps. Or, indulge your need for a burger, fries, and a shake at M Burger. Also, it’s located just a few blocks from Lake Michigan and a number of parks so you can walk off your meal or you can stay in the mall and check out the interactive Chicago Sports Museum full of memorabilia and simulated experiences.

Number of options: 17

2. Grand Central Dining Concourse, New York

True to its name, the dining concourse is elegant, sophisticated and accessible. You can grab a gourmet dog at Frankies Dogs, a growler of craft beer at Beer Table, a classic panini at Dishes or try any number of other ethnic and classic New York meals. Of course, dining and shopping will always take a backseat to the architecture and history of this cornerstone of American transportation. You can even download an audio tour to your phone and walk the tour at your own pace. That sounds like the perfect excuse to grab some fresh gelato from Ciao Bella Gelato or a treat from Neuhaus Chocolatier and walk it off in the name of history.

Number of options: 35

1. The Todd English Food Hall, The Plaza, New York

With 32,000 square feet, there are a number of options available atchef English's food hall. You can dine on seafood at Luke’s Lobster, fresh fish at Sabi Sushi, upscale sandwiches at No. 7 Sub and score fresh desserts from William Greenberg Desserts and more at this mecca of food halls. The surroundings are as elegant as the food, making it easy to see why notables such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were regulars at The Plaza. The Plaza also has a rich film history, as more than 40 movies have been filmed on site, including Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. It’s no wonder this food hall and accompanying property has become a go-to place for locals and tourists.

Number of options: 17