Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well-Fed and Ready to Fly

Packs of cold, anaemic sushi, $9 ham sandwiches and indeterminable slop sweating away in bain-maries – when it comes to food choices, airports have for too long held a reputation as the only places where a combo meal from a fast-food chain seems like the most palatable and sensible option.
Thankfully for travelers though, many airports are (finally) embracing the idea that a holiday should begin from the moment you check-in and, as such, are offering world-class food options that incorporate quality ingredients, local traditions and unique ideas.
Travel website, Frommers, recently compiled a list of the top 10 Airport restaurants in the U.S. While no means comprehensive, the list provides a good cross-state sample of what’s available - from Southern classics and old-fashioned burger’n’shake combos to ocean-fresh seafood and dangerously moreish Tex-Mex.
With airport eateries continuing to up their game, hopefully we will see more of these ‘best of’ lists cropping up (I’d personally love what the U.S airports’ European counterparts have to offer!) but, in the meantime, here are America’s top 10 spots for pre-flight fare.

In no particular order:
Atlanta (ATL): One Flew South is located in Terminal E and offers Southern comfort favourites with an Asian twist – think clam and miso chowder or lamb sausage with soybean succotash. Billing itself as “the first upscale dining experience at the world’s busiest airport”, One Flew South also has a well-stocked sushi and sake bar and an extensive list of both modern and classic cocktails.

Chicago (ORD): Celebrity chef, Rick Bayless (a favourite of President Obama) is the man behind Tortas Frontera in O'Hare's Terminal 1. Modelled on his popular Chicago eatery, Xoco, Tortas Frontera is Mexican at its messiest and most fun - the freshest of bread is piled with beef, pulled-pork, chorizo, guacamole, and mouth-watering ingredients to create some of the best sandwiches you’ll ever taste.

New York (JFK): Those after something light and refreshing pre-flight should make time for a meal at Deep Blue Sushi. A sister outlet to Manhattan’s high-end Buddakan restaurant, Deep Blue Sushi prides itself on the freshest sushi rolls, plates of jewel-like sashimi and hot meat, fish and tempura dishes.

Baltimore (BWI): Obrycki is a 60-year-old Baltimore crab house that’s crab-cake sliders are the stuff of local legend. Tucked next to Gate B11, this outpost of the original is a low-key joint with a menu full of rib-sticking fare and, not surprisingly, more than a few crab dishes.

Raleigh, NC (RDU): Make sure your napkin is fastened securely at 42nd Street Oyster Bar , where you'll unleash your inner child through big, messy seafood dishes – think jumbo shrimp still in their bright orange shell, home-style grits and briny, un-rinsed oysters. Get stuck in.

Boston (BOS): Another seafood spot, Legal Seafoods is part of an international empire that was born in Boston. Frommers describes Legal as having “an international reputation for serving only the freshest, best-quality fish, and shellfish, which it processes at its own state-of-the-art plant … and it's all splendid." There's three different Legal restaurants on offer in the airport - Legal's Test Kitchen (shortened menu, fast delivery), Legal C Bar (lots of beer options along with the usual menu) and the traditional, full-menu restaurant.

Los Angeles (LAX): Described by Frommers as "a 1960s Star Trek set gone Technicolor," Encounter at LAX is a favourite of the cool-set and kids alike. Housed in the famous spaceship building at Los Angeles International Airport, the restaurant presents American classics in an artful, slightly wacky way. All blue neon and lava lamps, this place is worth a stop-in, even if it’s just for a cocktail.

New York (LGA): When the proprietor is one of NYC’s best wholesale meat purveyors, you KNOW you’re going to be getting some damn tasty burgers. Pat LaFrieda’s Custom Burgers make an artform of beef patties – offering burgers so finger-licking tasty that they have become a tourist attraction in themselves. Choose from the menu or customise your burger from the large array of fresh ingredients, add a side of fried pickles and wash it all down with milkshakes from the local Ronnybrook dairy.

Seattle (SEA): A branch of one of the most celebrated restaurants in Seattle, Ivar's is a seafood-lovers dream, with fish and chips, scallops and chips, clam and chips, and chowder all being menu favourites. The restaurant stakes its reputation on using “only wild Alaskan deep water halibut, salmon, and Pacific True cod”.

Minneapolis (MSP): Ike's Food and Cocktails is a fine-dining steakhouse located just before security in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. If you’re after some hearty, home-style fare then you can’t go past Ike’s for steaks, turkey dinners, pot roast and burgers. Ike’s also offers $10 cocktails that can be enjoyed at their old-school-style bar.

If you find yourself departing from one of airports listed above then be sure to give these eateries your own review. If you're arriving, on the other hand, arrange your car hire through the following:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport Car Rental

O'Hare International Airport Car Rental

JFK International Airport Car Rental

La Guardia International Airport Car Rental

Washington International Airport Car Rental

Logan International Airport Car Rental

Los Angeles International Airport Car Rental

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Car Rental

Minneapolis St. Paul International Car Rental

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