When I first started traveling a lot, I dreaded the airport food. Which did I want – a fast food burger or a prepackaged sandwich? Neither really held much appeal for me but when traveling as often as I did, sometimes I had to make that choice. I have noticed, however, that I have started eating in airports more and more and not dreading it and for the first time, last week I actually chose to eat at the airport.
I was dropping off a rental car at Phoenix Sky Harbor and it was lunchtime. What to do? I remembered that Chelsea’s Kitchen, a local restaurant, had a location at the airport outside of security. Chelsea’s Kitchen sums up their food pretty well on their website, “high-quality, honest food that is always fresh and never frozen.” For my lunch, I chose a combo of their chicken vegetable soup and Brussels sprouts salad. Yum!!! It was so great to sit and have a nice lunch. I almost forgot I was at the airport! In walking to the parking garage, there were lots of other restaurants including the Cheauvront Restaurant & Wine Bar with its ceiling-high tower of wines, which just makes it look upscale and not at all like an airport restaurant.
Phoenix Sky Harbor is not alone, however. In my travels, I’ve found other great restaurants. For example, when in Austin, Texas, I was told I had to head to Driftwood to try the BBQ at The Salt Lick. I did and it was delicious and now one no longer needs to head to Driftwood as they’ve opened a location inside Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Plus, I’m no foodie, but even I’ve heard of Cat Cora so I couldn’t resist trying Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Houston’s Bush’s Intercontinental Airport. There are also locations in San Francisco International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport.
Major media outlets and publications are starting to notice, too. The Travel Channel has a listing of the Top 25 Airport Restaurants, Conde Nast Traveler has a listing of The Best Airport Food in the World, and even Food & Wine has a listing of Best Airport Dining Spots.
What I love most about this trend? It gives me more options for my family. Most of the airport restaurants I’ve visited have kids’ menus or child-friendly options. I no longer have to go through that prepackaged sandwich taking off the lettuce and hoping the tomato hasn’t soaked through the bread so much that my son won’t touch it. He can pick something healthy to eat and order it the way he wants it.