From boxed sandwiches and salads in plastic tubs to fine dining the world's gastronomic masters are now using airports for their new restaurant openings.
Heston Blumenthal is the latest big name chef to open an air hub establishment. The Perfectionist's Café will open at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on June 4. While Blumenthal is best known for molecular gastronomy, his new diner with a wood-fired oven makes it the first British airport kitchen with an open flame.
Coming soon: See what nearly 40 CNN staffers discovered in 24 hours at the world's busiest airport #ATL24
Air travel these days can feel designed to make a harried flier feel like nothing more than a piece of cargo.
From the interminable security lines to boarding cattle calls, anonymity is the order of the day, and that often extends to the food court. In a sea of endless soft pretzel vendors, undistinguished subs and sad, wan salads, it's always a treat for a hungry traveler to come upon an airport that's serving food specific to its city.
While the fare might not always be quite on par with what's served at these restaurants' in-town flagships - hey, it's hard to cook in an airport! - these 10 offer up the next best thing to a long layover, a rental car and a trip back through security.
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.
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