Forget scrounging the airport for delicious food, only to find a stale, cellophane-wrapped turkey sandwich for $11.99. Whether you’re flying to San Francisco or to Pittsburgh, here’s a sampling of airport restaurants offering the kind of tasty cuisine you’ve longed for—and you might even spot a celebrity chef, too.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD): Tortas Frontera
Rick Bayless—the James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author and television host—owns stellar Mexican-inspired restaurants in Chicago. His newest restaurant is one of the best reasons for a layover at O’Hare.
Find it: ORD, Terminal 1, B11 and Terminal 3, K4
Eat it: If you need an afternoon snack, the roasted tomatillo guacamole “fully dressed” (with bacon, toasted pepitas and sun-dried tomatoes) with tortilla chips is the perfect combination of creamy, salty and crunchy.
Drink it: While wines such as Casa Silva’s Syrah are available, The Deal Maker, a hand-shaken Margarita made with El Tesoro Añejo Tequila, Torres Orange Liqueur and fresh-squeezed lime is great, too.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP): Minni Bar
The Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern has traveled the world and eaten just about everything. Apropos for the guy known for eating his way around the globe, the brand-new Minni Bar offers globally inspired sandwiches made from locally culled ingredients.
Find it: MSP, Concourse G Gates 1–6
Eat it: A nod to Minnesota’s Norwegian ancestry, the Sven & Ole sandwich combines Swedish meatballs, sweet-and-sour red cabbage and lingonberry sauce on a toasted buttermilk-potato roll.
Drink it: Try La Maialina’s 2008 Chianti, or splurge on Jacques Chaput’s NV Brut Champagne.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Houston: Cat Cora’s Kitchen
Thanks to her appearances on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and her new show on Bravo, Around the World in 80 Plates, Cat Cora has garnered a reputation for culinary prowess.
Find it: SFO, Terminal 2; IAH, Terminal E
Eat it: The Greek Fisherman Stew (with assorted shellfish, seasonal fresh catch, fennel and an ouzo-butter crostino) pays homage to Cora’s heritage.
Drink it: Enjoy Cora’s private label Coranation Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir or Villa San-Juliette’s Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT): Bar Symon
An Iron Chef and co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Michael Symon recently expanded his restaurant collection from his flagship Lola in Cleveland to the jet set.
Find it: PIT, Center Food Court
Eat it: For something hearty, enjoy the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with crispy bacon and blue cheese sauce and bread.
Drink it: Try Bodega Norton’s Torrontés or a glass of Cecchi’s Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma.
To see which airlines are serving award-winning in-flight dishes, click here.