35 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World Ranking
November 25, 2013
Pack your appetite and get ready for great tastes before takeoff
35 Best Airport Restaurants Around the World
We take airport dining very seriously. From rating the best airport restaurants around the world to the best airport restaurants in every U.S. state, we spend copious amounts of time eating before, after, and even during our flights. We constantly cruise concourses in search of new establishments and old favorites, along the way compiling lists of the best airport restaurants like this one.
While we’ve enjoyed mile-high memorable meals and tasty terminal treats while racking up frequent flier miles, it wasn’t long ago that airport dining was seemingly an afterthought. Once airlines started cutting back on complimentary in-flight meals, airports started to reconsider dining options. Nowadays, food and drink options at some airports change as quickly as the latest food trends.
To compile this list, we canvassed concourses around the world and evaluated airport restaurants on a trio of criteria: cuisine, ambiance, and service. Some restaurants are the creative output of celebrity chefs, while others provide a taste of a town’s hometown treats just steps from the tarmac. With more flight delays and many airlines no longer serving free snacks, it’s comforting to know that amazing airport food is a travel trend that is not departing anytime soon, especially with these 35 amazing airport restaurants around the world.
#35 Casa do Pão de Queijo (Viracopos International Airport and São Paulo-Congonhas Airport)
This Brazilian restaurant snack chain started 51 years ago, and today there are over 400 locations throughout Brazil (and, interestingly, one in Newark, New Jersey). Its namesake, pão de queijo, is at the center of the menu: warm gougère-like cheese rolls made with cassava flour. Served warm, the bread balls are crisp and chewy on the outside and ooey gooey on the inside — the perfect comfort food for the plane.
#34 Sibarium (Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport)
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport has improved its culinary offerings in recent years with options like Sibarium. The gourmet shop and delicatessen sells Spanish products like olive oil, honey and cold cuts, and also offers grab-and-go options and has a tasting bar, where travelers can nosh on Iberian ham, cheese, foie gras, and sweets.
#33 Du Hsiao Yueh (Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport)
In 1895, Hong Yu-Tou, a Taiwanese fisherman who found it hard to make a living during slack season when the seas were too rough to fish, began to supplement his income by handcrafting tasty noodles, which he sold from a pouch suspended from two long poles balanced on his shoulders. His noodles soon became the talk of his hometown of Tainan. More than 100 years later, the same famous danzai noodles Hong made — served dry or in soup topped with bean sprouts, minced pork, shallots, bok choy, and one boiled shrimp — are served at Du Hsiao Yueh restaurants throughout Taiwan, including in Terminal 2 at Taoyuan International Airport.
#32 Hung's Delicacies (Hong Kong International Airport)
Hung’s Delicacies opened in 2003 in North Point on Hong Kong Island and was awarded one Michelin star for five years in a row before closing its original location in the summer of 2014 due to what its website refers to as “rental issues.” Nonetheless, Lai Wai-Hung (“Ah-Hung”) persists, making his famous braised dishes and roast meats at his outposts in Kowloon; Cotai, Macau; and Hong Kong International Airport’s Arrivals Level in Terminal 2.
#31 Columbia Restaurant Café (Tampa International Airport)
Florida’s oldest restaurant has a location in Airside E in Tampa International Airport, where travelers can order delicious Cuban food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In addition to their café con leche and Cuban toast, menu must-trys include the signature 1905 Salad, made with iceberg lettuce, tomato, baked ham, grated Swiss cheese, pimiento-stuffed green Spanish olives, and house-made dressing; the Original Tampa Cuban sandwich made with ham, salami, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickle, and mustard; devil crab croquettes; and soups like Spanish bean and Cuban black bean. The café also has a full bar serving wines, mojitos, and sangria.
#30 Tacañon (Benito Juárez International Airport)
A fast-food restaurant may seem an unlikely choice for a best airport restaurants list, but Tacañon at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City is a must-try if you’re flying in or out of Terminal 1. Tacañon serves home-style Mexican fare and street snacks like quesadillas, al pastor tacos, tortas, and tamales.
#29 Peach Garden Chinese Dining (Changi Airport)
Travelers at Singapore’s Changi Airport can settle in to the 180-seat contemporary dining room (there are also three private rooms for groups traveling together) or select from the heated grab-and-go options at Peach Garden Chinese Dining. The chain serves traditional Chinese food, including dim sum, and offers several set menus, including a six-course set menu for two that includes an appetizer of roasted London duck with barbecue pork char siew, chilled jellyfish, and chilled chicken in Sichuan spicy sauce followed by soup of the day, steamed fish, stir-fried vegetables, noodles, and dessert.
#28 Sushi Kyotatsu (Narita International Airport)
The airport is one of the last places travelers would think to find some of the best sushi in the world, but Sushi Kyotatsu’s is so extraordinary that a second branch has opened in Tokyo Narita Airport’s North Wing (there’s also an outpost in Terminal 1 and sister restaurant Tatsu is in Terminal 3). Each restaurant buys fish from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market, which is moving this month as the city prepares for the Olympics in 2020, and the sushi is prepared in a 200-year-old on-the-go style from the Edo period.
#27 Le Chef (Geneva Airport)
The former Altitude restaurant at Switzerland’s Geneva Airport has been refashioned into Le Chef, a concept helmed by celebrity chef Benjamin Luzuy, who revisits regional Swiss specialties made with local products on a menu that is based on the seasons. A business lunch is served at noon, and there is Sunday brunch served at the restaurant’s table d'hôte. The menu includes appetizers like mushroom cappuccino with tangy chanterelles, and coffee and Jerusalem artichoke tart with Geneva ricotta and argan oil, mains like roasted venison with cocoa juice and Swiss veal sweetbreads with grapefruit and coriander juices, and desserts like panna cotta melted with almond milk served with grapefruit marinated with verbena and prune cream and yuzu apple-lemon spheres with hazelnut nuggets and Granny Smith apple sorbet. Guests who can’t decide on what to order for dessert can opt for the Le Chef Gourmet Café, which comes with three treats and coffee.
#26 The Perfectionists' Café (Heathrow Airport)
British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal of the three-Michelin-starred The Fat Duck brings his celebrated cooking to The Perfectionists’ Café in Terminal 2 of London’s Heathrow Airport. Comfort food inspired by Blumenthal’s TV series “In Search of Perfection,” in which he explored classic British dishes, is served quickly and expertly. Of course that means fish and chips and a full English breakfast, and there’s also a children’s menu with classics like poached egg and soldiers and beans on toast along with kid-friendly cocktails the Endless Summer (pink grapefruit, apple, Earl Grey tea blend, strawberry, lemon and elderflower). Save room for ice cream made from the futuristic nitro ice cream parlor.
#25 Kitchen by Mike (Sydney International Airport)
Executive chef and owner Mike McEnearney uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for his dishes at his eponymous Kitchen by Mike in the newly renovated T1 International Airside, Pier B, between Gates 10 and 24. It’s easy to see why this restaurant has earned a spot on our list. McEnearney did, after all, pioneer Australia’s first urban physic garden. The canteen-style eatery first opened in Rosebery, a suburb of Sydney, in 2012 and has had a following ever since. The market fresh menu includes crumpets, honey, and Pepe Saya butter and chia pudding with coconut yogurt and rhubarb for breakfast and beer can jerk chicken with roast parsnip and mojo verde; wood-fired Brussels sprouts, freekeh, and ‘nduja dressing; and pumpkin, cumin onion and Persian feta tartine for lunch and dinner.
#24 Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)
Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails, located between Terminals 2 and 3 in the airport’s Holland Boulevard, definitely lives up to its motto: “Making the Traveler’s Day Better.” Soak up the Dutch experience by sitting in large teacup chairs or relax at the communal “Mad Tea Party” dining table. You’ll enjoy organic and locally produced Dutch cuisine, including kroketten (croquettes), poffertjes (traditional Dutch pancakes), and organic burgers using Koningshoeve beef from Spaarnwoude. The bar was designed with Lucas Bols B.V., the oldest distilled spirit brand in the world, and its drinks are impressive, too, focusing on taste, smell, and image. Order the Amsterdammertje, which is made with Bols Jonge Jenever (young Dutch Genever, Dutch gin made with juniper berries), Bols Peach, cranberry juice, and lemon juice.
#23 I Love Paris by Guy Martin (Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport)
Launched in June 2015, I Love Paris by Guy Martin is a unique place embodying the Parisian identity. This veritable declaration of love for the French capital was inspired by Martin’s restaurant Le Grand Véfour. Designed by India Mahdavi, I Love Paris by Guy Martin is located in Hall L, Terminal 2E and offers a new approach to traditional French cuisine using organic and in-season products. The dining room is an elegant space where travelers can enjoy a leisurely meal in environs inspired by Paris’ Palais-Royal with green velvet and leather armchairs and a grand oval bar. There’s also a sandwich shop where travelers can order pressed sandwiches to go. The menu includes starters like cream of carrot soup with caraway seeds and smoked salmon tartare with crab and avocado and mains like roast duckling with aubergine and grapefruit caviar with kumquat jus and paprika-rubbed veal fillet with crispy vegetables.
#22 Restaurant Top Air (Stuttgart Airport)
The only airport restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star, Restaurant Top Air is a destination itself, making it a noteworthy addition to our list. Helmed by Chef Marco Akuzun, Restaurant Top Air serves modern, creative international cuisine in a comfortable dining room in Terminal 1 that overlooks the runway. Diners can opt for three-, four-, or five-course set meals that all begin with the signature unstuffed, skull-shaped goose liver mousse with sour cherry and licorice. An à la carte menu and extensive wine menu with 400 options are also available.
#21 Giraffe (Heathrow Airport)
Giraffe is a great place to enjoy a rich breakfast, lunch, or dinner during your travels; its three airport locations make that an easy goal. In Terminal 5, Giraffe welcomes travelers with three giant giraffes standing tall at its entrance. Tempting menu items include the halloumi and falafel burger with grilled red pepper, carrots, beetroot, mixed leaves, hummus, and tzatziki and a 21-day-aged Irish-reared beef burger.
#20 Plane Food (Heathrow Airport)
Ever since award-winning celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay opened Plane Food in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 a decade ago, it has not only elevated airport dining but has also given jet-setters in transit a chance to sample British fare with a twist. There is a timed set menu — the 25-minute option with two courses and the 35-minute option with three courses — plus an à la carte option that includes the signature British short rib beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese and chimichurri sauce. There’s also a grab-and-go option and children, who eat free on certain days, can order classics like fish and chips from the Tilly’s Treats kids’ menu.
#19 The Larder at Tavern (Los Angeles International Airport)
The Larder at Tom Bradley International Terminal embodies the culinary spirit and convivial atmospheres of the company’s other larder locations including the original Larder at Tavern in LA’s Brentwood neighborhood, The Larder at Maple Drive, and The Larder at Burton Way. The Larder at Tavern features food and wine from James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Suzanne Goin and restaurateur Caroline Styne. The menu is populated with house-made items utilizing local, organically grown produce, and sustainably raised meats. The marketplace/cafe features grab-and-go sandwiches and salads as well as made-to-order items ranging from breakfast dishes to prepared grain and vegetables salads to hot and cold sandwiches and entrées. Signature dishes include challah French toast; breakfast sandwiches on Larder Baking Company breads or croissants; a pilgrim sandwich with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on sourdough; and vegan Cobb salad with beets, avocado, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. Choose from a wide variety of baked goods like cookies and pastries from the restaurant’s Larder Baking Company for a sweet inflight treat.
#18 Napa Farms Market (San Francisco International Airport)
With two locations at San Francisco International Airport (one in Terminal 2 and one in Terminal G, the international terminal) Napa Farms Market brings award-winning northern California cuisine to the concourse. The artisan marketplace carefully curates a seasonally-changing menu of sandwiches, soups, pizzas, salads, and breakfast offerings, including plenty of vegan and gluten free options, made from local ingredients like Berkeley’s Acme Bread, San Rafael’s Equator Coffee, and San Francisco’s Kara’s Cupcakes.
#17 Lee Kitchen by Susur Lee (Toronto Pearson International Airport)
Celebrity chef Susur Lee’s airport restaurant expands upon his talent in crafting his own unique blend of Asian and French-inspired cuisine that has made Lee Restaurant in Toronto a top culinary destination. At the airport, Lee Kitchen’s menu includes Susur’s Top Chef green curry chicken with mint chutney, northern Indian biryani basmati rice, tomato jam, and pineapple.
#16 Cafe Versailles (Miami International Airport)
Grabbing Cuban sandwiches, salads, sweets, and coffees from Café Versailles is convenient thanks to its four Miami airport locations in Terminal D West, Terminal D East, Terminal E, and Terminal F. Order the Café Versailles classic Cuban sandwich, made with sweet ham, roast pork, and Swiss cheese on toasted Cuban bread. Don’t forget to order Cuban coffee and their pastelitos, flaky pastries with fillings, such as coconut, guava, and cream cheese.
#15 Cat Cora’s Kitchen (multiple airports)
Cat Cora’s goal has been to enhance the passenger dining experience, one airport at a time. Cora has expanded her culinary pursuits to the concourse by opening Cat Cora’s Kitchen near Gate 55 in Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport, in the E Concourse at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, in Concourse B at the Lower B Gates at Salt Lake City International Airport, and near Gate A25 in Concourse A at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. With a focus on using organic and fresh ingredients, the restaurant, cocktail, and tapas lounge serves a variety of health-conscious, light fare that features Cora’s recipes and showcases her Greek and Southern heritage. Signature dishes include grilled lamb meatballs with sesame seeds and spicy yogurt; and spicy tomato soup with grilled cheese. Cora suggests travelers try the grilled avocado Cobb salad and the baked jalapeño poppers stuffed with creamy feta cheese and breaded with panko breadcrumbs. Trendy cocktails like the Farmers Market Bloody Mary and a wine list curated by a master sommelier enhance the epicurean experience. If you’re flying to, from, or through Detroit McNamara Airport, stop by Cat Cora’s Taproom near Gate A25 for a pint or two.
#14 Airbräu Brauhaus (Franz Josef Strauss Munich Airport)
This open, airy airport spot wears multiple hats, as it serves as a live entertainment venue, restaurant, and brewery all in one. Airbräu only uses hops from Germany’s Hallertau region in making fine beers. The menu showcases dishes like roast duck, grilled fillet of salmon steak, and Tyrolean spinach dumplings.
#13 Jamie’s Italian and Union Jack’s Bar, Gatwick Airport
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian and Union Jack’s Bar feature an all-British menu with top sellers from Jamie’s Italian’s other locations, like linguine with garlicky prawns, tomatoes, shaved fennel, saffron, chile, and rocket. The restaurant is located after security in the North Terminal Departure Lounge, and the menu includes pan-cooked dishes Naked Chef-style, like The Full Monty (two free-range sausages, crispy smoked bacon, black pudding, free-range eggs, potatoes with sticky onions, roast tomatoes, brown cap mushrooms, and baked beans) and original beef burger (Prime British beef on a brioche bun, sticky balsamic onions, pancetta, Westcombe Cheddar, tomato, and mostarda di Cremona secret sauce).
#12 La Pausa (Ministro Pistarini International Airport)
You’ll find traditional Argentinian cuisine at this sit-down restaurant located in a bright and airy spot in Terminal A of Ministro Pistarini International Airport, serving Buenos Aires. La Pausa has a large bar with an extensive wine list and serves classic dishes like bife de chorizo (sirloin steak) as well as a buffet with hot and cold Argentinian favorites.
#11 Ink.Sack (Los Angeles International Airport)
Michael Voltaggio’s popular Los Angeles sandwich joint is located at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which is known for quality dining. The veggie banh mi is made with barbecue tofu, pickled vegetables, and mushroom spread; the Spanish Godfather incorporates ham, chorizo, and Manchego; and the cold fried chicken includes ranch cheese, Gindo’s Spice of Life pepper sauce, and pickles. Other menu items include the classics: turkey melt, club, BLT, and grilled cheese.
#10 One Flew South (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)
This restaurant, located in Terminal E, dubs its travel-inspired cuisine “Southernational.” A Georgia forest photomural serves as the backdrop in the dining room, which features an 18-foot marble-backed bar and a 30-foot pine and Cherokee marble sushi bar. The name One Flew South is emblazoned in Japanese (ichi-nan-shu) on the backs of menus that list the exceptional Japanese fare. “Salute to Aeromarine,” the cocktail list inspired by Aeromarine Airways, which carried wealthy passengers from Miami to Nassau and Havana aboard floatplanes ("flying boats") so that they could drink legally during the Prohibition era, has signature drinks like the Cab Calloway (oloroso sherry, apricot, angostura, and dry vermouth) and Jumping Jack Flight (applejack, sorgum, and cayenne cider).
#9 Globe@YVR (Vancouver International Airport)
This classy venue specializes in Pacific Northwest cuisine. Executive Chef Colin Burslem uses locally sourced, sustainably grown ingredients on the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus as well as on his monthly Get Fresh lunch and dinner menus that all pair well with wines from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Dishes include maple-glazed Sakura pork tomahawk with mushroom bread pudding, asparagus, and creme fraiche; steak Oscar made with seared Canada prime tenderloin and served with Dungeness crab, asparagus, garlic confit potatoes, and béarnaise; and seafood cioppino with mussels, clams, prawns, Dungeness crab, local fish, and tomato wine broth.
#8 Brasserie Flo (Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport)
Modeled after the original in Paris’ 10th Arrondissement, Brasserie Flo, located in Terminal 2F, offers an authentic brasserie experience. Two- and three-course menus are on offer with options like semi-cooked duck foie gras, mango and cucumber tartare, gazpacho vinaigrette; guinea fowl and cured ham with dried fruit and nuts; and strawberry croustillant with lavender ice cream.
#7 Obrycki's (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)
Since 1944, Obrycki’s has been known for bringing Baltimore delicious steamed crabs and fresh crab cakes. Although its Baltimore City location closed in 2011 and steamed crabs are no longer available, there are still two locations at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; Obrycki’s Restaurant and Bar between Gate B7 and B9 in Concourse B and Obrycki's A Bar adjacent to Gate A10 in Concourse A that serve travelers a taste of Baltimore. Both locations feature a full selection of beer, wine and spirited beverages (try the signature Crabby Mary, a bloody mary made with Absolut Peppar and house-made bloody mix served in a glass rimmed with Obrycki’s Seafood Seasoning and garnished with a crab claw, celery, olive, and lemon wedge) and have menus that focus on fresh Chesapeake regional seafood.
#6 Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)
As the name suggests, Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar is a wine, Champagne, and raw seafood bar. The sister restaurant of Amsterdam’s Bubbles & Wines, the airport location is built around a saltwater aquarium in Departure Lounge 1. Don’t leave the airport without sipping a flute or two of the sparkling wine (there are more than 50 to choose from) and sampling the raw herring with fresh bread and onions — a Dutch tradition. There’s even a casino in case you’re feeling lucky.
#5 Legal Sea Foods (Boston Logan International Airport)
Legal Sea Foods started out as a fish market in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1950, and its first restaurant opened next door in 1968. A Boston classic, Legal Sea Foods now has six locations spread throughout all terminals in Boston’s Logan International Airport (Terminal A, Terminal B, Terminal B Connector, Terminal C, and Terminal E), each offering quintessential New England cuisine. Dine like the president by ordering their famous New England clam chowder, which has been served at every U.S. presidential inauguration since 1981. Additional options include lobster rolls, fried clams, shrimp cocktail, and Boston cream pie.
#4 The Gorgeous Kitchen (Heathrow Airport)
Four British chefs, Caroline Artiss, Sophie Michell, Jo Pratt, and Gee Charman, curated the menu at the Gorgeous Kitchen, which offers light modern dishes as well as traditional British fare to travelers passing through the airport's Terminal 2. There are express two- and three-course meals, an afternoon tea, and special weekender menu. Definitely try one of the Bloody Marys like the Blackberry Mary (Ketel One vodka with blackberries, chili, tomato juice, lemon-and-lime juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce garnished with cucumber and blackberry).
#3 Le Sommelier Bar & Bistro (Copenhagen Airport)
Le Sommelier Bar & Bistro in Terminal 2 at Copenhagen Airport features French bistro fare inspired by the now shuttered Le Sommelier in downtown Copenhagen. The bistro features a menu designed by French chef Francis Cardenau that includes steak tartare and croque-monsieur. Some items, like the rotisserie chicken and steak béarnaise, are marked with a special icon on the menu, indicating these dishes are conveniently served within 15 minutes of ordering.
#2 The Salt Lick BBQ (Austin-Bergstrom International Airport & Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)
Barbecue is a staple in the state of Texas, and The Salt Lick BBQ — at Gate 12 in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and at Gate 16 in Terminal A at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — provides an authentic Texas barbecue experience for incoming travelers who can’t wait, outgoing travelers who still crave it, and through-traffic travelers who have no time to leave the airport. The iconic Salt Lick started 46 years ago on a ranch in Driftwood, Texas, which was run by Thurman and Hisako Roberts, as well as their son Scott, who now runs the business. Thurman Roberts dreamed of living and working on the same property that he grew up on, so he built a barbecue pit on his favorite spot of the ranch and began a barbecue business — The Salt Lick BBQ still uses that pit to this day. It’s noteworthy for its signature beef brisket and pork ribs; at Austin-Bergstrom, be sure to sip The Salt Lick’s BBQ Red Wine, made from grapes grown in the restaurant’s vineyards in Driftwood and crafted with a perfect balance of dryness, oaky flavor, and refreshing crispness. Save room for desserts like a slice of peach cobbler, pecan pie, or blackberry cobbler.
#1 Tortas Frontera (Chicago O'Hare International Airport)
You don’t have to be in Mexico to get great south-of-the-border food. With three locations throughout O'Hare, in Terminal 1 at Gate B11, Terminal 3 at Gate K4, and Terminal 5 at Gate M12, Tortas Frontera, created by chef Rick Bayless, features a guacamole bar with chips and salsa, as well as toppings like pepitas, bacon, and sun-dried tomatoes and tortas (Mexican grilled sandwiches), including the Cubana with pork, bacon, black beans, Chihuahua cheese and avocado. Tortas Frontera serves breakfast, too, offering such dishes as an egg and chorizo torta or molletes (open-faced sandwiches), including the caramelized plantain mollete, which has peanut butter, caramel, and pecans. And don’t forget the drinks. Tortas Frontera serves up refrescos like strawberry and mango smoothies as well as margaritas and Goose Island beer, helping it top the list of the best airport restaurants in America.
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