Today’s airport food includes gourmet treats featuring the best local tastes. We’ve partnered with Arizona-based Susan Lanier-Graham, of Wander With Wonder, to check out some of the local flavors you can find in airports around the world, even if you happen to just be making a quick connection.
While a flying day once meant bad food, especially during a layover when the only options were greasy fast food, today’s airports celebrate local flavors. As airports have modernized over the past decade, they added local restaurants in favor of national chains. This gives you an exciting opportunity to experience the flavors of a location, even if you only have a short layover. Step outside the box. Bypass that national chain to try one of the local options and step into the heart and soul of the locale, even if only for 90 minutes. Here are a few of my favorite airport food options—and those of a couple of my fellow Travelocity Gnational Gnomads—we have discovered on our travels.
Fauchon Paris Offers French Tradition for Airport Food
Fauchon opened its doors in Paris back in 1886. The original shop is on 30 Place de la Madeleine in Paris, France and is a tradition for locals and tourists alike. I always stop into one of the stores when I’m in the city, so it’s also the last place I visit when I leave—or if I’m just flying through Charles De Gaulle Airport.
There are several locations in Terminal 2 where you can buy gifts, but there is only one restaurant. Take the escalator upstairs and there is a large lounge (with WiFi). I always spend some time ogling the macaron counter and usually purchase a few of those to take home.
I usually order my last Parisian splurge—a ham, cheese and butter sandwich on a crisp French baguette. I top that with a glass of rosé champagne. Remember, if you take the sandwich on the plane, you must finish it or discard it before arriving in the US. You can’t take the fresh meat and cheese through customs. The macarons are allowed, however—but who has any of those left over? Fauchon definitely changes your concept of airport food.
George’s Greek Cafe at Long Beach Airport
When I first started flying into Long Beach about a decade ago, it was a tiny airport that looked like something out of the 1920s. Quaint, cute, but in need of an upgrade. It received an impressive upgrade the past few years. They kept the historical main building and created an open-air promenade embracing the Southern California breezes. The Long Beach Airport also reached out and welcomed local restaurants, creating a taste of SoCal right in the airport.
If your vacation plans include a beach stay in Long Beach or the surrounding area—and I highly recommend it—flying into Long Beach is easy and you can stop at one of my favorite restaurants before heading home. George’s Greek Cafe is a family-owned restaurant that has been in Long Beach for more than 30 years. The worst part? You’ll have to make a choice between the tzantziki, humus, kalamata spread, flaming cheese, gyro, fresh salads…you get the picture.
George’s makes everything fresh, using local ingredients. You can take the food and sit down to charge your electronic equipment or go unplug in the ocean breezes. This is truly one of the most flyer-friendly airports anywhere. It makes flying a pleasure. The airport food is as good as if you were in downtown Long Beach.
ink.sack at LAX Makes Portable Airport Food Exceptional
I reached out to a couple of my fellow Travelocity Gnational Gnomads for their recommendations on airport food. Joe Miragliotta of JoesDaily.com responded without hesitation. “Hands down my favorite place to eat before jumping on an international flight is ink.sack by critically acclaimed Top Chef winner, Michael Voltaggio.”
ink.sack is located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Joe describes the airport food. “Think of this casual sandwich shop as an Italian deli with a touch of Spanish influence. I recommend grabbing the Spanish Godfather to-go.”
Napa Farms Market at San Francisco International Airport
Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com agrees that airports are finally seeking out quality food concessionaires. “My selection for best airport food goes to San Francisco International Airport (SFO),” says Mike. “It stands to reason that SFO would have quality, healthy food. First, it’s an international hub. Second, it’s an affluent market. There are a number of quality restaurants, but one place that stands out for me is Napa Farms Market.”
Napa Farms Market has two locations in SFO—in Terminal 2 and International Terminal G. Mike really enjoys how easy they make it to taste the fresh products. “This place is beautifully laid out with an extensive gastronomic selection of food for takeout (for your flight) or dine in. They like to say, ‘Farm to Flight.'” This definitely gives airport food a new take on farm fresh. Also note that if you’re not going back through a TSA checkpoint, you can pick up liquid items, such as vinegars and wines, and carry them to your final destination.
Taste of Arizona at Blanco Tacos + Tequila
We have some great Phoenix-based restaurants at Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). As a major hub for both Southwest and American Airlines, the chances are you might fly through Phoenix. You can get a taste of our Desert Southwest through the guacamole and margaritas, but do make sure you return to vacation in our beautiful desert landscapes!
I suggest stopping in for a margarita and guacamole at Blanco Tacos + Tequila. This is one of the few places in PHX that stays open for delayed flights. While they don’t serve a full menu, you can get guac and margaritas until closing.
The guacamole has a subtle bite with roasted poblano and Anaheim chiles. I’m a purist with margaritas, so I usually opt for the classic, substituting Don Julio Blanco tequila. I also like the blood orange margarita, with a Grand Marnier float.
With airport food so elevated now, you can get a great taste for local cuisine, even on a layover. It’s enough to have you booking your next vacation back to that spot to get a real feel for the people, the culture and the food that whetted your appetite at Gate A7. Bon voyage!
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