Once the backwater of the food world, airport restaurants are increasingly upping their game. This new wave of foodie-focused concepts offer from-scratch cooking, locally-souced menus, and great wine lists. From multicourse meals presented in less than an hour to gourmet “picnic” meals for takeaway, these are our picks for the 15 best airport restaurants in the world.
By Emily Wasserman
WHERE: Los Angeles International Airport
Stepping into LAX’s Encounter Restaurant feels like you've flown into the future. The restaurant is famous for its space age interior and location in a 70-foot high “Theme Building” designed by Walt Disney Imagineers. The unusual décor belies a gourmet menu: Visitors can sample everything from ahi tuna tartare to oven-baked lamb loin with a mint demi-glace.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Los Angeles Guide
Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar
WHERE: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
For a glass of bubbly and a platter of fresh oysters, Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the place to go. The restaurant is known for its seafood dishes, but also has an impressive collection of Champagne and wine. Pull up a seat at the bar’s giant saltwater aquarium to sample the house specialty: a plate of herring with bread and onions.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Amsterdam Guide
DEMA Restaurant and Lounge
WHERE: Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Located in the Westin Detroit Hotel, DEMA is connected to the airport by a mile-long terminal corridor. The restaurant is worth the trek, as chef Jason Tarasiewicz uses regional and seasonal ingredients to craft contemporary Asian fusion cuisine. Popular dishes include wild lavender honey-glazed salmon and seasonal specialty pizzas.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Detroit Guide
One Flew South
WHERE: Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
East meets west at One Flew South. Guests can sample Southern-inspired dishes or try the restaurant’s unique interpretations of sushi and sashimi favorites. Ingredients are sourced from regional farmers, and the restaurant’s zen-like atmosphere provides a welcome retreat from the airport’s hustle and bustle. Standout dishes include pan roasted pork loin, grass-fed beef meatloaf, and the sushi “crunch” roll with rice wine-poached shrimp.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Atlanta Guide
WHERE: John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York
For sensational Spanish tapas made with seasonal ingredients, we like Piquillo in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Renowned NYC chef Alexandra Raij draws her inspiration from local farmers’ markets and offers travelers a variety of hot and cold small plates. Popular dishes include the cazuelas, earthenware crocks filled with stews and braised vegetables, and scallops with chorizo.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide
WHERE: Seoul-Incheon International Airport
Seoul-Incheon International Airport keeps visitors busy: the complex includes a golf course, casino, spa, and a variety of dining options. For traditional Korean fare, there's no place we'd rather go than Incheon Bibimbap. The restaurant’s authentic Korean bibimbap is an unforgettable amalgamation of rice, fresh vegetables, chili paste, sliced beef, and a fried egg.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Seoul Guide
WHERE: El Prat de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
At the entrance to Terminal 1 is Porta Gaig, the latest venture from Michelin award-winning chef Carles Gaig. The restaurant specializes in Catalan cuisine and uses market-fresh ingredients to create its dishes. Menu favorites include roasted chicken and cod in samfaina, a mix of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Spain Guide
Cat Cora’s Kitchen
WHERE: San Francisco International Airport
Celebrity chef Cat Cora takes an environmental approach to dining at her airport restaurant, Cat Cora’s Kitchen. Located in the San Francisco International Airport, the restaurant uses local ingredients, and makes its utensils from eco-friendly materials. The menu is divided into sweet and savory dishes ranging from lobster mac-and-cheese to pistachio baklava.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's San Francisco Guide
WHERE: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Eating is an art form in France, and airports are no exception. Located in Terminal 2F of Charles de Gaulle Airport, Brasserie Flo offers the same French fare as its beloved sister location in Paris. Meals are served in multiple courses and include traditional dishes like grilled Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce, sole meuniere, and crème brulee with bourbon-vanilla sauce.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Paris Guide
Plane Food by Gordon Ramsay
WHERE: Heathrow Airport, London
Located on the departure side of London’s Heathrow Airport, Plane Food by Gordon Ramsay is a traveler's dream. The restaurant offers gourmet tasting menus whipped out in under 35 minutes, and also provides a la carte options and take-away picnic bags. Popular dishes include roasted beef carpaccio with arugula, braised pork belly, and salted caramel pannacotta with roasted peaches.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's London Guide
WHERE: Vancouver International Airport, Canada
Award-winning food, upscale décor, and sweeping panoramic views make [email protected] a favorite among travelers. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and offers a variety of regionally inspired dishes. Guests can sample everything from seared Qualicum Bay scallops to Queen Charlotte Island sable fish with chorizo and olive tapenade.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Vancouver Guide
Prime Tavern from Michael Lomonaco
WHERE: LaGuardia Airport, New York
Dry-aged steaks, buttery lobster rolls, and fresh ground-beef burgers are just a few of the dishes travelers can sample at Prime Tavern. Chef Michael Lomonaco of New York's Porterhouse restaurant crafted the menu to give visitors an authentic steakhouse experience. The restaurant also offers lighter fare like heirloom tomato caprese salad and chilled, dill-cucumber soup.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Guide
WHERE: Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, Spain
The brainchild of master chef Dani Garcia, Lamoraga offers travelers traditional Spanish fare with a contemporary twist. Dishes range from tapas to large plates, and popular menu items include cherry gazpacho and the Iberico pig burger.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Malaga Guide
WHERE: Geneva International Airport, Switzerland
Take in picturesque views of the Jura Mountains over a gourmet dinner at Geneva International Airport’s Altitude restaurant. Dishes include squid ink spaghetti with wild octopus, and Provence-style roasted lamb with tomato gratin. Save room for after-dinner treats: the restaurant offers a mouthwatering selection of Swiss and French cheeses, and a rich chocolate lava cake.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Geneva Guide
WHERE: Ministro Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Enjoy hearty Argentine cuisine at La Pausa in Buenos Aires’s International Airport. The well-secluded restaurant features everything from grilled sirloin strip to four-cheese gnocchi. It's easy to linger over wine and food in La Pausa’s low-lit dining room.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Buenos Aires Guide