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7 Best Airport Restaurants in America

Ditch the food court for these memorably delicious meals before your next flight.

Whether you're dealing with a flight delay or just have an abnormally long layover, there comes a point in almost every traveler's journey where they'll have to grab a bite to eat at the airport. For some, the idea of picking up an overpriced premade sandwich or poking at an underwhelming salad near their gate seems sadly inevitable. But if you're lucky, you might be able to get a memorably delicious meal before it's time to board. Read on for the best airport restaurants in America, according to travel experts.

RELATED: 9 Best Airports in America That Are Worth a Layover.

Mauka Market at Honolulu International Airport (HNL)

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
Bill Morson / Shutterstock

Across all of its islands, Hawaii is a destination that prides itself on a wide range of top-notch dining options. This could even extend to your last meal before you head back to the mainland, thanks to Mauka Market at Terminal 1 in the Honolulu International Airport (HNL).

"My go-to dish when I'm there is the Teriyaki Chicken rice bowl. It consistently impresses me every time!" says Pamela Holt, travel expert and host of Me, Myself, and the World. "Its flavor profile is unmatched, and it's my absolute favorite dish on the menu."

But no matter what you're craving, there's plenty to choose from. The menu features a range of Hawaiian-inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and delicious cocktails made with regional flavors like lilikoi, lychee, guava, pineapple, and coconut are served.

"I highly recommend stopping by this restaurant the next time you're flying through HNL!" says Holt.

Bud & Marilyn's at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

exterior of philadelphia international airport
Skorzewiak / Shutterstock

Trying to avoid another sad pre-flight meal? Travel publicist Stephanie Aviles points out that one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia has a location in Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

"Serving up American classics, restauranteur chef Marcie Turney and her business partner Valerie Safran opened Bud & Marilyn's as an homage to the chef's grandparents' former restaurant in Wisconsin," she says. Guests can expect breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus—as well as an elevated grab-and-go counter for those in a rush.

It can also be a great way to experience a Philly gem on a layover. "The airport location retains the same charm as the original Midtown Village spot," Aviles says. "Don't sleep on the Nashville Hot Chicken Buns!"

RELATED: Never Eat at This Kind of Restaurant on Vacation, Experts Warn.

One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

main hub of atlanta international airport

Memorably great airport meals may be few and far between, but it's even less likely you'll find a restaurant with major awards cred. However, if you happen to be flying out of or through the busiest airport in the world, you might be able to sample one of the most lauded culinary experiences available in a travel hub.

"With two James Beard nominations, the acclaimed One Flew South at Atlanta-Hartsfield is far from being a new discovery, but there are still plenty of good reasons why this restaurant remains a dining destination," Claire Westlake, global travel coach and founder of Pistachio Go, tells Best Life. "The Southern and sushi menu is diverse and surprisingly extensive: I always struggle to pick what to have and have always been delighted with my choices."

And it's not just what's coming out on the plates: She says that the mixologists are on point to such an extent that they deserve a mention in their own right in the realm of airport bars.

"Yet what truly sets One Flew South apart for me is that it delivers the experience of dining in a proper restaurant, not just a glorified food court concession," she says. "It's an indulgent haven to calmly while away your time at this otherwise crazy busy airport."

Cafe Versaille and La Carreta at Miami International Airport (MIA)

exterior of Miami International Airport at dusk

It's no surprise that a city bursting with as much culture as Miami packs its passion for food into every corner. This includes its airport, where you can enjoy some of the very best local cuisine.

"You don't need to leave the airport to find a taste of Cuban influence on Miami," says Katy Nastro, travel expert and spokesperson for Going. "Cafe Versaille, a Miami staple for Cuban cuisine, has outposts dotted across terminals so you can get a strong cafecito and pastelito wherever your connection departs from."

And if you're really trying to get a taste of the city, there's another equally tantalizing option available. "La Carreta also serves up cubanos and croquetas throughout the airport," she says. "I always make it a point to stop at either and indulge between flights."

RELATED: 7 Surprising Items TSA May Flag You for at Airport Security.

Trader Vic's at San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC)

The exterior of San Jose Airport

You may not look forward to spending time in a terminal, but it can actually be one of the rare times when you truly have no choice but to kick back and unwind while you wait to fly off. Fortunately, this is even easier to appreciate when you've got both great food and drinks on hand to enjoy.

"I love tropical and tiki drinks, so Trader Vic's at the San Jose Airport located in Terminal B near gate 23 is a must when traveling through there," says Aviles. "Grab an original Vic's Mai Tai at the bar and a poke or Kahlua pork bowl in the Trader Vic's outpost."

She says that while the decor isn't as lavish or fully immersive as visiting the famous Trader Vic's location just outside of Oakland in Emeryville, California, it still feels like a little airport oasis with plenty of island-inspired eats and grab-and-go food options. Thanks to its unique vibe, it's even earned something of a reputation for itself.

"I know plenty of folks who have gone out of their way to get a layover in San Jose just to stop in and check out the airport Vic's," she says.

Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi Bar at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

hall of flags at o'hare intenational airport

For many travelers, the idea of grabbing sushi at the airport involves an expensive premade roll sold from a kiosk. Admittedly, it's a convenient meal on the go, even if it probably leaves a little something to be desired in freshness. But that's not the case at one restaurant at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD).

"I have a noticeable bias towards sushi as my airport cuisine of choice, and there are a few spots around the U.S. that I'll make a beeline for on a semi-regular basis, but Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi Bar at ORD tops that list," says Westlake. "The sushi is fresh, delicious, and well-presented, the service warm and efficient, and there's almost always a good, bustling energy about the place."

In addition to the rolls and raw fish, the restaurant serves up a classic raw bar with oysters, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, and more, along with other sushi house classics like miso soup and edamame. Diners are also treated to a sweeping view of the runways while they eat.

"I'll happily make a long detour through the terminals for a meal at Wicker Park," Westlake says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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