As in-flight meals go the way of the go-go-booted stewardess, dining operators are enlisting big-name chefs to help them open ambitious new airport restaurants.
The recent boom in serious airport food is great news for early birds, who must be at the gate at least an hour before departure—lest the airline decide, for the first time ever, to run ahead of schedule.
Food & Wine sampled status burgers and pristine sushi on a TSA-sanctioned food tour.
This post originally appeared at Food & Wine.
This story was originally published by Food & Wine.
Where: Terminal 5, John F. Kennedy International Airport
With its vaulted, tiled ceiling, Piquillo looks like the inside of some modernist wine cellar, an ideal hiding spot for waiting out a delay. Tapas and Spanish sandwiches evoke the food that chef Alex Raij cooks at her two excellent Manhattan restaurants, El Quinto Pino and Txikito. Dishes include creamy croquetas and a flight-friendly bocadillo of serrano ham on a tomato-rubbed baguette; less portable but equally delicious is a fried-calamari sandwich with spicy mayonnaise.
Where: Terminal D, LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia is quickly catching up to JFK, its Queens sibling, with a growing roster of restaurants spun off from local favourites. At Delta's Terminal D, chef Michael Lomonaco's Prime Tavern serves dry-aged steaks, custom-blended Pat LaFrieda burgers and lobster rolls.
Where: Terminal C, Newark Liberty International Airport
Vino Volo This growing chain of cushy airport wine bars serves small plates of cheese, cured meats, olives, and dishes like chilled paella and duck-confit-and-lentil salad. The food is available to go, and you can also order wines you've tasted for home delivery.
Where: Terminal A, Boston Logan International Airport
Legal's Test Kitchen Legal Sea Foods, a Boston institution, runs this 80-seat restaurant that tests out new dishes for the restaurant company and offers take-out salads, wok stir-fries and sandwiches as well as Legal classics like clam chowder and fish and chips.
Where: Terminals A-West, C, and E; Philadelphia International Airport
Lively South Philly crab house, Chickie's & Pete's, now operates several airport outlets specializing in the original's chowder, steak sandwiches and Crab Fries--french fries seasoned with crab-boil seasoning and served with a creamy cheese dipping sauce.
Where: Concourse E, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Sushi spot One Flew South is Atlanta's first upscale airport restaurant, complete with a menu created by chefs Todd Richards and Duane Nutter of The Oakroom at the Seelbach Hilton in Kentucky.
Where: Concourse B, Baltimore Washington International Airport
You can't don a bib and brandish a mallet over a tableful of crustaceans like you can at Obrycki's original Pratt Street location, but you can still enjoy the popular restaurant's portable, less messy options: luscious crab cakes, crab dip and more.
Where: Main Terminal Atrium, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
Brookwood Farms BBQ Lines of hungry flyers attest to the deliciousness of the Carolina-style barbecue served up here: pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken are among the offerings. Don't miss the fried pickle garnish.
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