Whether you’re about to jet somewhere, settle in for a long layover or touch down in your destination, chances are you’re hungry, thirsty, and ready for sustenance.

And nobody wants to be hungry at the airport. After all, the food is usually expensive, unhealthy and not exactly mouthwatering.  

Rest assured, quality airport food does exist. That’s why we’ve gathered 14 of the best airport restaurants around the world, so you can satisfy your hungry traveling soul with a bite and a beverage.

With these foodie havens, you just may find yourself wishing for that layover or delayed flight, after all.

1. Columbia Restaurant Café (Tampa International Airport)

Named ‘One of America’s Most Historic Restaurants’ by USA Today, Columbia Restaurant Café is Florida’s oldest restaurant and offers cuban food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Try a tapa, like Miranda’s Ybor City Devil Crab Croquettes (a.k.a. Croqueta de jaiba). These bites originated during the Great Depression and are made from seasoned cooked blue crab meat, paprika and garlic, before being rolled, breaded with Cuban bread crumbs, and fried. Served with Columbia Hot Sauce, you’ll want to pair these brilliant bites with a glass of Sangria de España, made tableside with Sauvignon Blanc, brandy, and fresh citrus juice.

Need something heartier? Opt for a Tampa treasure — the Cuban Sandwich, which was originally created in the late 1890s for cigar workers. For dessert, go for a fresh baked guava and cream cheese pastry or a true Florida favorite, a sublime slice of key lime pie.

2. Airbräu (Munich International Airport)

Looking for your food with a side of local beer and live entertainment? Airbräu is a massive open-air spot in Munich International Airport known for its incredible beers — made using hops from the Hallertau region of Germany.

Bring a travel buddy and go for the Supersonic, a two-person-minimum food package served with roast pork, a knuckle of pork, one piece of duck, served with fresh dumplings and side dishes. The best part is that the Supersonic policy is to eat as much as you can (excluding the duck) alongside one liter of their famous home-brewed beer.

3. Cafe Versailles (Miami International Airport)

Versailles Restaurant (The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant, as it’s called) has been serving Cuban cuisine to Florida inhabitants and tourists since 1971. If you’re feeling sleepy pre- or post-flight, opt for a Cuban coffee for an energy boost. Hungry, too? Go for a Cuban sandwich made with roast pork, sweet ham, Swiss Cheese, mustard, and pickles all on toasted Cuban bread.

4. Amsterdam Bread Co. (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)

Step into a slice of handmade goodness at Amsterdam Bread Co. Dutch windmills used to grind grain into flour to make bread — and this bread company has based its foundation on the center of an authentic windmill. Top your fresh-baked bread with local seasonal food before making a pit stop on a hay bale to enjoy it all. Go for a gluten-free option if that’s your jam or let loose with a personal Dutch apple pie. If you find yourself at the airport in the a.m. hours, a ham and cheese croissant with a cup of hot coffee may do the trick.

5. Cousins Bar-B-Q (Dallas/Fort Worth Airport)

Cousins Bar-B-Q has been doing “low and slow” Texas Bar-B-Q since 1983. They use fresh ingredients and hand-selected hardwoods to give their meats that characteristically perfect slow smoke flavor. For the lucky traveler wandering through the Lone Star state, Cousins prepares, packages, and ships daily from their pits in Fort Worth to Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Try the sliced or chopped brisket, some ribs, and a side of potato salad while you’re at it. Wash it all down with an ice cold beer before boarding.

6. Uptown Brasserie (JFK Airport)

From Top Chef Masters’ champion and James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson comes Uptown Brasserie in JFK Airport. It features internationally influenced New York Cuisine and craft cocktails prepared in an open kitchen.

The breakfast menu boasts a juice bar, smoked salmon bagels, housemade granola, and buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries. For lunch and dinner, try the Delta Catfish Sandwich with Pepperoncini Tartar, served with Carolina coleslaw and French fries or the Crispy Skin Salmon with citrus aioli sauce, carrots, radish, and snap peas.

Make sure to order a market side of Parmesan and Truffle French Fries and the Kir Royale — champagne with blackcurrant flavored créme de cassis.

7. Northpoint Custard (General Mitchell Airport)

When in Milwaukee, there’s no doubt that you must experience fried cheese curds and custard. Get the midwest experience started off right with a pre-boarding bite at Northpoint Custard. There’s crinkle-cut fries, shakes, beer-boiled brats, cheeseburgers with Northpoint special sauce, and tater tots, and even — breakfast sandwiches for the morning travelers.

They also offer gluten-free buns and turkey burgers (plus beer-battered onion rings, soups, and extra sides of cheese sauce).

8. The Perfectionists’ Café (Heathrow Airport)

The Perfectionists’ Cafe is the brainchild of Britain’s celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal — who runs the three-Michelin-starred The Fat Duck. It’s food inspired by his television series “In Search of Perfection,” where Chef Blumenthal explores classic British dishes with the occasional exciting twist.

The Perfectionists’ food menu boasts favorite British items like Extraordinary Fish & Chips, battered or breaded day boat Cornish fish, chips, mushy peas with a hint of mint and tartar sauce. There’s also the deli, with items like Secret Smokehouse Smoked Salmon, oak smoked salmon served with artisan rye bread, cream cheese, onion, lemon and capers.

Other fare include burgers, pasta, and pizza, like the Five Mushroom with no tomato mushroom sauce made with five different mushrooms (fior di latte, wild rocket, and a hint of garlic oil). Kids even get their own wild menu complete with kid-friendly cocktails like the Pineapple Soda with pineapple, pink grapefruit, green tea.

9. Bluestar Donuts (Portland International Airport)

Already a Portland staple, Bluestar Donuts is known for their innovative and gourmet flavors. A quick stop to Bluestar in Portland Airport will bring any eager traveler into the world of raspberry rosemary buttermilk, blueberry bourbon basil, and lemon poppy.

You can find these donuts all over Portland and Southern California, but there’s nothing quite like having one pre-security in the airport. The donuts are made from scratch with fresh fruits, herbs and spices, and liqueurs.

What makes them stand out from the crowd is the use of buttery brioche as a raised-yeast base. Better yet, Bluestar makes an effort to partner with their neighbors and use local products that support their communities.

10. Antonello Colonna Open Bistro (Rome Fiumicino Airport)

This seasonal bistro buffet is operated by Michelin-starred chef Antonello Colonna — and will cost you 20 euros for an all-you-can-eat expedition. You can also choose the a-la-carte option for starters like butcher-style braised oxtails, carbonara inside out, lamb loin with seasonal vegetables, and soft ricotta cake for dessert. In fact, while on the topic of dessert, you might want to go for two (like the iced pistachio cookie and moose with candied fruit).

Shot of bar and dining room at I Love Paris by Guy Martin, located in Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport

11. I Love Paris by Guy Martin (Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport)

I Love Paris was created by Guy Martin, the Michelin star-winning chef of the Grand Véfour, and architect and designer India Mahdavi. It’s a restaurant primarily based on three offerings: top sandwiches, champagne, and 70 elegant seats. The cuisine incorporates traditional and gourmet French fare made with organic, seasonal products.

If you’re going for a fine-dining option that offers crab rolls, salmon salads, and a Parisian atmosphere — this is a tasty top choice.

12. Napa Farms Market (San Francisco International Airport-SFO)

Napa Farms Market has not one — but two — locations inside San Francisco International Airport. Whether you’re in Terminal 2 or Terminal G (for international flights) you can feast on an expertly curated selection of artisan goods.

There’s a ‘Farm to Flight’ menu that changes seasonally and is filled with salads, breakfasts, soups, pizzas, and sandwiches. Sample items like the Napa Cuban made with roasted pork, smoked gouda, pepperoncini, and tomato on a ciabatta roll or the Charcuterie & Cheese Platter with provolone, salami, prosciutto, coppa, smoked mozzarella, olives, red pepper, arugula, and crostini.

Morning offerings include breakfast bagels and granola bars, as well as a plethora of coffee-complementing dishes.

13. Hung’s Delicacies (Hong Kong International Airport)

Venture to terminal 2 (arrivals level) for a step into celebrated Chinese cuisine. The Michelin-star award-winning Hung’s Delicacies focuses on braised meat — particularly, a style called lou seoi.” For a signature dish, explore the Chinese Marinated Goose Slices, Duck Tongues in Chinese Liquor, and “Chua Lam’s Mixed Noodle.” You can also try the soup, congee, or marinated veggies.

1897 Market's brick-exposed dining room in Charlotte International Airport.

14. 1897 Market (Charlotte Douglas International)

A place for the beverage enthusiasts, 1897 Market is a distinctly hip gourmet eatery and marketplace. It’s the perfect stopping point to sip a cocktail or two while perusing locally sourced gifts to bring on the plane. Inspired by culinary traditions and trends from around the world, 1897 offers the ultimate in food experiences for the culinary-minded traveler. From a raw bar and a woodstone pizza oven to premium wines from the world’s most incredible regions — there’s something here for all hungry and thirsty traveling folks.

From New York to Hong Kong, we hope this list has inspired visions of food-filled daydreams. Whether you’re indulging pre- or post-flight, there’s nothing quite like an epic airport meal (especially when enjoying one before or after the comfort of a day use room).

With early check-in stays and luxury at half the cost of a night stay, booking a dayroom with HotelsByDay is a no-brainer.

Have any mouth-watering, unique airport restaurants you know and love? Feel free to share your favorite airport eateries in the comments section.

Image Credits:

Featured image: “Airport hall interior” by kychan via Unsplash

*All other photos courtesy of restaurant

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Bay Ewald
Bay is a multimedia food and travel storyteller. She’s cofounder of the artistic production company @comewecreate and cookbook author of Living the Mediterranean Diet. She has a passion for learning about new cultures through nature and cuisine.