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9 airport restaurants: Local eats before liftoff

Facebook / The Salt Lick BBQ via Condé Nast Traveler

Salt Lick BBQ, in Austin's international airport, is noteworthy for its beef brisket and pork ribs.

Airport restaurants haven’t traditionally been at the top of globe-trotting gourmands' lists of delicious destinations. However, an increasing number of restaurants located within the terminals are becoming dining destinations.


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Increasingly, restaurants like Plane Food at London’s Heathrow Airport and Pink’s at Los Angeles International Airport are providing portable eats and sit-down meals that are emblematic of the destination’s culinary traditions.

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For travelers in transit or without time to experience a region’s cuisine, these nine kitchens provide a taste of hometown treats steps from the tarmac. From traditional Singaporean dumplings at Kim Choo’s Nonya Kitchen at Singapore Changi Airport and poffertjes (Dutch pancakes) at Dutch Kitchen at Schiphol International Airport, The Daily Meal presents nine airport restaurants that give travelers a sample of the city’s culinary creations that lie beyond the airport — many of which may even be worth missing your flight for.

Salt Lick BBQ
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas

When it comes to food, barbecue is a staple in the state of Texas. Salt Lick BBQ in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport provides an authentic Texas barbecue experience for incoming travelers who can't wait, outgoing travelers who still crave it, and through-traffic travelers who have no time to leave the airport.

The Salt Lick BBQ started 45 years ago on a ranch in Driftwood, Texas, which was run by Thurman and Hisako Roberts as well as their son Scott, who now runs the business. Thurman Roberts dreamed of living and working on the same property that he grew up on, so he built a barbecue pit on his favorite spot of the ranch and began a barbecue business. Salt Lick BBQ still uses that pit to this day.

Salt Lick BBQ is noteworthy for its signature beef brisket and pork ribs.

Obrycki’s
Thurgood Marshall Airport, Baltimore/Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Cleveland

Originally a bar in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Obrycki's original spot was within two townhomes bought by the Obrycki family. Eventually, food was added to the menu.

Obrycki’s signature crabcakes, typically served fried and made with jumbo lump crabmeat and a little bit of seasoned breadcrumbs and egg, embody traditional Maryland cuisine.

The bar offers a drink with a local twist called the Crabby Mary, a bloody mary made with Absolut Pepper Vodka and spicy mix, served in a glass rimmed with seafood seasoning.

Legal Sea Foods
Logan International Airport, Boston

The first Legal Sea Foods started as a fish market in 1950 under the ownership of George Berkowitz in the Inman Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass. Berkowitz was inspired by his father, Harry's Legal Cash Market, an adjacent grocery store that aimed to be a purveyor of fresh seafood. Legal Cash Market also likely inspired the current motto of the restaurant, "If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!"

Legal Sea Foods first restaurant opened next to the fish market in 1968, and it quickly became a popular dining spot due to the freshness of their seafood dishes.

Berkowitz’s son Roger took over the business in 1992 and opened a location in Terminal C at Logan International Airport. Legal Sea Foods now has four restaurant locations within the terminals of Logan International.

With signature dishes like shrimp cocktail, fried clams, steamers, crabcakes, oysters, lobster (in a clam bake, roll, or steamed) and baked scrod, the airport restaurant captures the seaport-dominated culinary essence of Boston.

For travelers who wish to dine like the U.S. President, order a bowl of Legal Sea Foods signature New England clam chowder, which has been served at every presidential inauguration since 1981.

Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam

Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has a strip of Dutch-inspired restaurants and shops located along Holland Boulevard, with the Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails leading the way with its menu that captures the essence of Holland in food, drink, and design.

Travelers can experience a slice of Dutch culture with a restaurant design that integrates elements from Dutch folklore and daily life.

Dutch Kitchen serves Dutch comfort food on the go, such as croquettes on farmhouse bread, traditional poffertjes (a Dutch pancake) and Dutch apple pie.

Kim Choo’s Nonya Kitchen
Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore

Lee Kim Choo first learned her grandmother’s masterful Nonya dumpling recipe when she was 12 in 1946. The family sold the triangular bamboo-leaf dumplings packed with meat and sticky rice every year at the annual summertime Dragon Boat Festival. The tradition later turned into a dumpling business, Kim Choo's Nonya Kitchen, which started with a stall Lee set up under a tree in front of her house and has since expanded to four locations.

Aside from the portable dumplings, spicy chicken curry, satay, otak (meat cakes), and Nonya kuehs (sweet, colorful cakes) are also served.

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