SEAT 2B | By Joe Brancatelli
Eating Well on the Fly
Monday, October 15, 2007; 3:20 PM
Life on the road is no picnic, but there is good news: Food at the airport is getting better. And it's getting better the right way: with respected local dining outlets being given a chance to serve up their specialties to ravenous and gastronomically adventurous travelers like us.
If you've had it with Mickey D's and Taco Bell and can't stuff another greasy slice of pizza down your gullet, download this list of top airport tables into your palmtop or BlackBerry. And I'd love to hear the places where you love to nosh at the airport. Just add your favorites in the comments section.
I still grieve for the Flying Pig, the legendary barbecue pit that used to smoke across the street from Hartsfield Jackson Airport. Now Paschal's is the place to stop when you're passing through Hartsfield. Southern comfort food reigns supreme at its branches, which are scattered through the main terminals. The biscuits at breakfast are notably top-notch.
At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, there's an outpost of Salt Lick, the beloved barbecue joint in Driftwood, Texas. Try the chopped-beef-brisket sandwich; it's sinful on a soft roll with Salt Lick's tangy sour-sweet sauce.
The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille has more than a dozen locations in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, and has just opened an outlet in Concourse D of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The chain's turtle wraps, available in styles like 'Philly cheesesteak,' are famous, if not particularly healthy.
What would a visit to Boston be without a stop at Legal Sea Foods? Logan Airport has two traditional Legal outlets and a specially configured restaurant called Legal Test Kitchen, which can serve up a real meal in less than 30 minutes.
The Berghoff is a magical name in Chicagoland, and a branch of the German-Austrian landmark that once stood on West Adams still operates at O'Hare Airport. But I prefer a quick bite at Burrito Beach, a local Mexican chain with a kiosk in the food court between Concourses H and K in Terminal 3. The black-bean-and-red-rice burrito appeals to my inner vegetarian.
I'm not sure I fully understand Cincinnati's love affair with Gold Star Chili. But you can find a branch of this ubiquitous Queen City chain inside Terminal B of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport and taste for yourself. Even I find the chili cheese fries irresistible in small quantities.
There are Dickey's Barbecue Pits all over the place now, including rest stops along the New Jersey Turnpike. But I think the food is better in the chain's home state of Texas. The DFW Airport has four Dickey's kiosks. I know it's almost heretical to talk pig in Texas, but I like their dry-marinated pulled-pork sandwiches.
At Denver International Airport's three terminals, there are Lefty's bars and restaurants in various configurations. If you pass a Lefty's that is selling the portobello mushroom sandwich, grab one. They're tasty and will make you feel virtuous when you go by the 24-hour Burger King.
Detroit Metro Airport has come a long way from the days when Cinnabon was the best food option, but I still don't find anything notably tasty inside the terminals. Instead, I walk to the adjacent Westin hotel and have a sit-down meal at Dema. It has excellent omelets at breakfast and wood-fired appetizers and pizzas for dinner, as well as a good roster of wines by the glass.
Branches of the Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen gladden the hearts of fish fans in seven states. The biggest and best locations seem to be in Texas and that includes the outpost in Terminal E of Bush Intercontinental Airport. Fresh oysters at an airport -- what a concept!