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Airport Dining Worthy of a Long Layover

In Chicago, chef Rick Bayless oversees Tortas Frontera, dedicated to the famous Mexican street sandwiches, in Terminal 1 of O'Hare International Airport. It's edible bliss, as long as you don't mind standing while you eat. At Los Angeles International Airport many flock to iconic Encounter Restaurant for its Jetsons-style martini bar and retro eatery, but in the Southwest-dominated Terminal 1 you'll find creations from one of the country's best bakers at La Brea Bakery offering a counter of fresh scones, cheesy sandwiches and French-inspired salads.

You'd think that the best culinary airport offerings on the European mainland would be in a city such as Paris, but rather surprisingly the famous Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is lacking in worthy dining experiences aside from the Alain Ducasse meals created especially for those in Air France's La Premiere Lounge. What many consider the continent's best airport restaurant can actually be found in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, where Bubbles lures showy travelers to its grand seafood and wine bar. It has a lofty two-story space and long bar serving a trove of cured seafood platters a dice throw from an in-house casino. Those that know the difference between Beluga and Sevruga find an elegant caviar presentation complete with spooned accouterments and champagne or vodka pairings on request.

Plane Food, within the main departures area of London Heathrow Airport's 3-year-old Terminal 5, offers an all-day culinary playground owned by Gordan Ramsay and overseen by Buenos Aires chef Cesar Bartolini. Designed by Bentel & Bentel architects, who created the look of New York's Craft and Gramercy Tavern, it bears giant industrial buttresses as frames to windows overlooking the main airplane gates, infusing the space with almost blinding light in a city famous for its gloom. Modish design elements such as chairs with a nod to midcentury design and a long bar with an overhead mural feel miles away from the main terminal as plates of eggs benedict, chicken liver parfait, roasted cod with polenta chips and 28-day aged ribeye offer a pre-flight foodie fix.

At Hong Kong International Airport, business travelers often find themselves with multihour layovers at the most random of morning hours. In Terminal 1 is La Palace, offering a traditional dining room of wonton, congee and local specialties that's open at 8 a.m. as well as 8 p.m. Those preferring something a bit more western find London's famous Pizza Express on level 7 in the departures area offering wood-oven specialties such as baked dough balls and ricotta cannelloni as well as grilled chicken salads and Roman or Neapolitan-style pizzas with toppings such as truffles or even Peking Duck (also available for carry-away, or fly-away).

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.
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