Multiple Airports: Wolfgang Puck Express
We tried the spicy chicken pizza ($9.45) (hey, this is Wolfgang Puck; half the pizzas have chicken). With bits of white chicken meat, sauteed leeks, tomato slices, cilantro, and red pepper flakes, it was a flavor bomb of a pizza, topping-wise; spicy and juicy and a little sweet in the way of chicken fajitas, say. The well-seasoned chicken wasn't dry in the slightest, marinated in lemon and pepper; cilantro and red pepper add heat. Yes, it sounds like something straight out of California Pizza Kitchen. But it's far fresher-tasting with a crust that, while thin and oily, essentially tastes like pizza—not processed puffy dough.
Each pizza is made to order and fired in a Woodmatic oven—wood in back, gas otherwise—heated to around 650°F. They're big enough for lunch and maybe an extra slice or two on the plane; prices range from $8.50 to $10.
Portland International Airport (Oregon), Terminal C: Good Dog Bad Dog
Hot dogs, sausage, fries and a condiment bar with plenty of sauerkraut. If it's an early morning flight and you can't handle the dogs, they have breakfast burritos too.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport: AJ Tavern
It's named after two A.J.-initial-bearing late presidents from the great state of North Carolina: Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. They serve a bunch of different sandwiches, including this pulled pork one, as well as bar snacks, and beer on tap.
Terminal 1 Near Gate A25;
JFK International Airport (NYC): 5ive Steak
5ive Steak is located in the main food court of JetBlue's pretty swanky Terminal 5. The menu is a contemporary steakhouse affair, with prime steaks, a large seafood selection and many dishes containing truffle oil—like the french fries. Clocking in at a meaty-beaty big and bouncy 10 ounces of custom beef from Pat La Frieda, this is one big hamburger. Forget about getting one to-go and attempting to board a plane with it unless you want to take it on as luggage. It's salty, beefy, and succulent.
Jet Blue's Terminal 5
LAX (Los Angeles): In-N-Out Burger
So technically it's not in the airport (if only!), but you can practically smell the Animal Style fries from LAX; there's a location only a mile and a half away at 9149 South Sepulveda Boulevard (map here). If you have time to swing by to or from the airport, get one of the made-to-order burgers with grilled onions, and a too-thick-for-straw shake. And no, it's not just overrated fast-food.
Hartsfield Jackson Airport (Atlanta), Terminal A: Chick-fil-A
We love the Atlanta-based chain, what can we say? And can't really ever say no to a Spicy Chicken sandwich. Just don't expect them to be open on Sunday! The chain famously closes on Sundays.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Across from Gate 12: Amy's and Salt Lick
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport: Casa de Fresco
Local "Floribbean" food. Pictured here is the jerk chicken platter with plantains, rice, and black beans.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport: Anchor Bar
When in Buffalo, you eat wings. And they must taste better from the "home of the Buffalo wing," right? Maybe not necessarily, but these certainly have all that spicy-buttery sauce glory and juicy meat.
Upper level; anchorbar.com
O'Hare International Airport in Chicago; Terminals 1, 2, 3: Nuts on Clarke
Caramelcorn and cashews do not a meal make, but this Chicago favorite—they're based just two blocks north of Wrigley Field—is a nice portable handful-sized snack.
Logan Airport (Boston), Terminal C: Legal Seafood
It's a chain with restaurants all over the Boston metro area. We'd be happy spooning up the creamy clam chowder (with their crusty, hot-from-the-oven rolls), a spicy tuna burger, crisp fried clams, or anything from their impressive (especially impressive by airport standards) raw bar. As is key at an airport, service is prompt and accommodating—they'll rush a check or pack up an order to go when you have to run.
LaGuardia Airport (New York), Delta Terminal D: Tagliare
Tagliare (which means to cut or slice in Italian) is a collaboration between Don DeMarco Jr., part of the DeMarco family that owns the Brooklyn destination-pizzeria Di Fara, and OTG Management, a company that's worked to elevate airport food around the country by partnering with local chefs. It's far better than you'd expect airport pizza to be. In fact, we'd even bet any New Yorker would be proud to call this their local pizzeria slice.