Whenever someone starts talking about the "good ol' days" of air travel, remind them about eating at old school airports.
Back then, a meal at the airport meant horsing down a candy bar from the gift shop and wrestling with a vending machine for a can of soda.
Nowadays, large, medium and even some smaller airports provide legitimately good restaurants, with enough interesting offerings and atmosphere to make that three-hour layover just a little less hellish.
There's still room for culinary upgrades - as noted below, some airports haven't yet figured out that sitting on planes makes us hungry and irritable - but the best places to eat in the country's busiest airports (ranked by passenger traffic, per FAA statistics) generally range from good to great.
Discover the "Best eats at the 20 busiest U.S. airports" on CNN Travel.
Food delivered to your gate at the touch of a screen? It sounds too good to be true, but it's happening at a handful or airports.
About 7,000 Apple iPads are being installed at La Guardia Airport in New York, Toronto Pearson International in Ontario and Minneapolis-St. Paul International in the Twin Cities in a collaboration between airport food and beverage provider OTG Management and Delta Air Lines.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
A lot of important questions come up at Thanksgiving: turkey brining, pro or con; cornbread stuffing, yes or no; and whether or not that stuffing should be baked in that turkey. (If you answered pro brined turkey to the first question, the answer to the last question is no.)
But now that airport food has improved so drastically, the most relevant question might be: Is anyone even hungry for Thanksgiving dinner, after they pigged out so much at the terminal?
I asked my very favorite frequent flier, Andrew Zimmern, who travels the world for his show "Bizarre Foods" on the Travel Channel, for his favorite dining spots in airports. He obliged by giving me his favorite places to eat in 12 airports around the country. From now on, I’m booking all my flights with stopovers in Minneapolis.
Business Traveller is a monthly show about making the most of doing business on the road.
We've all seen it before - you're in a restaurant and the person at the table next to you has their camera phone out and is happy-snapping their chosen dish before uploading it to one of the many social media sites out there.
Food lovers the world over are now taking their cuisine-capturing antics to the skies as airlines find more and more of their dishes are ending up online.
When I didn't get my cookie, I almost started crying. No, this didn't happen when I was 5, 10 or even 15 years old. It was this past Christmas on an airplane bound for my home in New York, and I'm pretty sure this is the most embarrassing sentence I have ever typed.
Airport dining doesn't have to be terminal. A new wave of airport restaurants is elevating airport cuisine above the level of greasy burgers and wilting sushi, as celebrity chefs and regional food heroes bring their magic to the one-time culinary wasteland of the airport.
Many of the chefs involved are Michelin-starred, and their offerings rate alongside the finest restaurants in their cities.
The better restaurants that are located in the public areas of their respective airports, such as Hong Kong's Hung's Delicacies and La Moraga in Malaga, Spain, have become magnets for non-traveling locals, achieving the hitherto unthinkable by turning the airport into a foodie destination.
What’s the deal with airline food?
It’s a question travelers and stand-up comedians have been asking for decades. Bags of peanuts, barely-edible dinner rolls and the dreaded “meat-like substance” have been a staple of in-flight dining for decades. There are even websites devoted to all things airline food, such as AirlineMeals.net.
But did you know that airline food is celebrating a milestone birthday? Eighty-five years ago this month, the first meal was served on a commercial airliner.
A cupcake isn't always just a cupcake. Sometimes it's so noteworthy, it creates Cupcakegate. Just ask the nation's airport security officials.
Travelers carrying a "normal" cupcake will probably clear airport security, although additional screening may be required, according to a Transportation Security Administration blog post defending the agency's recent confiscation of a cupcake. The post, titled "Cupcakegate" was published Monday and promised to be "short and sweet."
As communications professor Rebecca Hains learned last month, an unorthodox cupcake in a jar may violate U.S. Transportation Security Administration carry-on limits on liquids and gels, warns TSA's official blogger. At least sometimes.
Hains tried to carry a cupcake in a Mason jar, packaged that way by the bakery for easy shipping, through airport security on the way home from a holiday trip.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to get our grub on, we listen up.
I don’t have the statistics handy, but my guess is that on average, 99.9 percent of the people running around airport concourses are not there for the food.
That’s not to say dining options haven’t gotten exponentially better. We can all remember the days when the only organic products at airports would get you in trouble with the DEA. Now you can find entire kiosks filled with products to delight your cardiologist right next to gate C16. So let’s start with the good news.
Tortas Frontera - O’Hare, Chicago
The server cupped his hand to the side of his mouth and whispered, "Those, um, are oysters from the mountains, you know."
I nodded, slightly gravely, and thanked him for his thoughtful euphemism. I know full well what Rocky Mountain oysters are, and seeing as I was encountering them on a menu in Terminal C of the Denver International Airport, they seemed a somewhat safer bet than their maritime counterparts.
So I went ahead and ordered the deep-fried bull balls.