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Flying on a Full Stomach - Top 10 Airport Eateries

Explorer C

During a long day of travel it is inevitable that hunger will strike. On a road trip it is always best to eat where the truckers dine. After all, they are the ones who spend every arduous day driving the highways of America. Similarly in our Southwest Airports, who better to ask for food advice than the people who are constantly seeking sustenance on the fly all across the country--the Flight Crew!
Very often when placed in a foreign setting, we tend to try and seek places of familiarity.
You know the scenario: You sit down with a meal that you are not too excited about, then see someone else pull out of a bag the most beautiful sandwich you have ever laid eyes on. With every bite they take out if it, you grow more and more envious as you drool over their food.
Well have no fear! I am about to equip you with the knowledge needed to take full advantage of what our airports have to offer. You will soon be the envy of everyone in the food court! Even if it’s your first time there, you will be eating like a local and enhancing your entire travel experience. So… without further adieu let me introduce my “Top Ten Southwest Airport Eateries”!

Drum roll, please...

Potbelly Sandwich Works

1. Potbelly Sandwich Works

Topping my list is Potbelly Sandwich Works--well known not just for their sandwiches, but also their soups and salads. When first encountering Potbelly’s it is hard not to be intimidated with a line that often extends out the door into the terminal. Don’t let this get you down.  This restaurant has perfected the sandwich-making process by adopting the old-fashioned assembly line, which is sure to have you out of there in close to five minutes. Don’t be surprised if you are the 20th person in line and they are shouting at you to place your order! With extremely affordable prices and great food, your wallet will be just as satisfied as your stomach and taste buds. While visiting, be sure to indulge in one of their classics known as “The Wreck”. Ask for a side of the Potbelly Vinaigrette to dip your sandwich in! Potbelly’s is located at the Chicago-Midway Airport and the Washington-Dulles Airport.

2. Mamma Lombardi’s

Fuhgeddaboudit!!! This place serves Italian Food so authentic you are going to think you are in an episode of The Sopranos sitting with all the boys on Mulberry St. in Manhattan! Tucked in the back corner of the food court at the Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, at first glance Mamma Lombardi’s could easily be mistaken for your typical food court pizzeria. I remember the first time I had the honor of eating here. I was not hungry and certainly was not in the mood for Italian. A Fellow Coworker insisted that I have a sandwich, and when I said no, he bought me one anyway. I am now forever indebted to him as that Chicken Parmesan Hero who left me in a food coma! I was speechless, and even though I was full I wanted another one.

Caper's Cafe

3. Capers Café et Le Bar

Our next restaurant brings us to the beautiful Portland International Airport, where you will find Capers Café et Le Bar.  It is located just through the security line in Concourse C. This European inspired café will have your mind in a frenzy, trying to choose between the many delectable dishes. With selections including breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and daily specials, you will almost hope for your flight to be canceled! For those of you who enjoy a glass of wine with your meal be sure to check out their eclectic wine list. I often opt for one of their daily specials, which always proves to be a first-class decision.

4. The Salt Lick

If you are on the “Meat and Potatoes” diet, then this is the place for you.  When visiting Texas and the Midwest it is imperative to indulge in the savory BBQ that The Salt Lick has to offer. A personal favorite of mine is the “Texas Sized” baked potato with smoked brisket.  Never fear if brisket isn’t your deal, there is still plenty of options including turkey, sausage, ribs, coleslaw, beans, and potato salad. So strap on a pair of cowboy boots and get ready for some BBQ when visiting the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Will Rogers World Airport/Oklahoma City!

Comida Buena

5. Comida Buena Gourmet Deli

At first glance, this small deli may look like your typical “hole in the wall’ deli. However, Comida Buena is home to the “World Famous” green chile chicken soup. If you are passing through the Albuquerque International Sunport, you would be doing yourself a great injustice by not grabbing yourself a cup of soup. Sure to spice up anyone’s travel experience, this soup comes loaded with chicken, vegetables, and flavor that will have your mouth begging for more. Be sure to grab yourself a cold beverage because those green chiles might get you dancing, if you know what I mean!

Salad Works

6. Saladworks

Looking for a little something healthy before you start your day of jetsetting? The Saladworks in the Sacramento International Airport is the place for you. Armed with an extravagant selection of fresh salads and fixings, you will feel like you are out on the farm eating food you just picked from your garden. If you are having a hard time choosing from all of the fine choices, might I suggest the Sophie’s Salad or the Tivoli Salad? When ordering the Sophie’s Salad, be sure to have them mix the Asian Ginger Dressing and the Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Ivar's Fish Bar

7. Ivar’s Fish Bar

Ivar’s has been a Northwest family tradition since 1938. Serving up some of the freshest seafood in the area, they have built a reputation for good seafood that extends beyond the Northwest. Situated in the Central Terminal of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, they serve up a plate of fish and chips that rivals all of Great Britain. Ivar’s is not just fish and chips though! Along with grilled seafood selections and fresh Northwest chowders, they offer a variety of made-to-order salads and seafood that includes cod, halibut, salmon, scallops, calamari, clams, prawns, and more! Just thinking about it has me wishing I were there.


8. Flo’s Shanghai

Nín hǎo, welcome to Terminal 4 of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport! If you’re like me and love Chinese Food, then do I have a treat for you! Flo’s is a local Phoenix restaurant that cooks up fresh-to-order meals. With great prices and a wide variety of menu items, there is something for the whole family. From pot stickers to rice bowls, you will find it hard to narrow down your choices. Flo’s offers great service and extremely clean dining and kitchen areas. Their Wonton Soup (ask to add vegetables) is by far my favorite on the menu! For under $6, you will have a meal that will make you forget you are in the desert and have you feel like you are celebrating Chinese New Year in Shanghai.

9. Pinkberry

No Crew Member can deny this place! Pinkberry frozen yogurt will have you Tweeting and Facebooking to make your friends jealous. Now you can have the refreshing dessert without the guilt.  Pinkberry can be found in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), offering a seasonal variety of different frozen yogurts with your choice of fresh fruits. Be sure not to get pulled too deep in to a tropical fantasy daydream while enjoying this delightful dessert or you might miss your flight!

10. Smuttynose Public House

Our last hidden gem brings us to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. Often overlooked, Smuttynose sits across from Gate 14 and offers unprecedented friendly service and savory crepes that will make you melt! With unlimited options of mixing and matching--you are the chef. Whether it is lunch or dessert you’re in the mood for, Smuttynose is ready to accommodate you! I very often opt for a spinach, tomato, and feta crepe. It may be my French background that has me loving these crepes, but I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Well there you have it!  That completes my “Top Ten Southwest Airport Eateries” list. I hope all of this talk about food did not make you too hungry.

Now you are ready to take on the Southwest Airports and try all of the great foods out there. I would be lying if I said that there were not many other places that I wrestled within my mind when making this list. I know many of you have favorite places you have discovered in your local airports or along your travels and I would love to hear about them. Be sure to leave a comment and tell me about your favorite dining experiences in our Southwest Airports!