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Celebrity Chefs, Local Favorites: The South Gets on Board with Fine Airport Cuisine

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Celebrity Chefs, Local Favorites: The South Gets on Board with Fine Airport Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Caviar and Bananas

An average of 250,000 passengers travel through Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport each day, making it one of the busiest airports in the United States. Airport protocol suggests arriving two hours before your flight. So on a good day you get your boarding pass, check your luggage, and make your way through security in about thirty minutes. How to pass the rest of the time before your flight?

Airport officials want you to eat.

But if you aren’t keen on two-day-old, pre-made sandwiches or overpriced draft beer and fried food, you may have grown resistant, even adamant, about chowing down during fights and layovers. Or perhaps, like me, for both health and economical reasons you choose to smuggle your own grub in. (Note: we do not recommend trying this with beverages or liquids.)

As airports look to better represent the culture of the cities they serve as gateways to, larger chains are being overlooked in favor of local or regional businesses. Ideally, rather than have each airport seemingly indistinguishable (save, of course, for the city logos on gift shop merchandise), the airports will serve as a culinary teaser to what each region has to offer. So that next time you catch a layover through burgeoning culinary capitals like New Orleans and Miami, your first reaction is a mouthwatering at the prospect of all those Cajun and Caribbean flavors, rather than an involuntary groan at the thought of the security lines.

Marcus Samuelson has famed La Brasserie at JFK, Rick Bayless has drummed up rave reviews at Torta Frontera in Chicago O’Hare, and Cat Cora’s Kitchen is taking over terminals in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Houston. Not to mention Duane Nutter’s One Flew South eclipsing the competition in Atlanta.

Some other Southern options for munching on the move?

Obrycki’s, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Baltimore, MD
This layover haven has the best crab cakes attainable in the area—ask any crab loving Baltimorean.

Salt Lick, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, TX
Try their famous brisket if you’re looking to get a taste of authentic Texan BBQ.

C.J. Cannon’s, Vero Beach Municipal Airport, Vero Beach, FL
An amazing pit stop if you’re looking for a satisfying, large breakfast.

La Caretta, Miami International Airport, Miami, FL
A hidden gem that will satisfy your Cuban fix; try their picadillo entree.

Matsutake Sushi, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Arlington, VA
Known for their steak hibachi as well as their well constructive and creative sushi rolls.

Beaudevin, Miami International Airport, Miami, FL, Charlotte, NC
Featuring live jazz, flowing wine, and top-notch ceviche, this tapas bar is a relief to those between flights.

Corky’s BBQ, Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN
Cory’s classic pulled pork sandwich is high on Memphis locals recommendation list.

Le Grand Comptoir, George Bush International Airport, Houston, TX
A high quality French dining experience known for its exceptional tuna tartar.

Photo by Scott Suchman
Photo by Scott Suchman

Coming Soon
Caviar and Bananas, Charleston International Airport, Charleston, SC
Caviar is as fancy as the name calls for: not only does the gourmet market offer quality food and wine, their salad and sandwich stations allow for an ultimate personalized experience.

Page (featuring Carla Hall and Gina Chersevani) Reagan National Airport, Arlington, VA
Backed by Carla Hall, a ‘The Chew’ host and top chef finalist, this sit down restaurant has a promising southern comfort menu underway.