8/09/2012 01:31:00 PM

Airport Food Continues Its Ascent At NYC's LaGuardia

A steak at the Delta Terminal
Many of us can remember the day when eating in an airport consisted of day-old sandwiches, sad apples, greasy fast food, over-priced bar snacks, or a limp meal on a plane. But now, as the country gets more in touch with good food, and no longer settles for bland and boring, some airports are stepping up their gourmet game.

The most recent development can be seen in the Delta terminal at New York's La Guardia Airport. Here, the space has been filled with quality restaurants overseen by head concept chef Michael Coury, who said he made sure to pick other operators who actually would impart the quality of their regular restaurants, in an airport setting. “The level of the chef needs to be no different than the level of the restaurant,” he said.

These include some places run by big-name chefs like Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch), who runs Victory and serves a superb spicy tuna tartare. The food at the other joints is good too. Take Bisoux by Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson of Balthazar and Minetta Tavern, the steak frites proved so tender, you could actually cut it with the plastic knives airports use instead of real cutlery. The new Delta terminal also features Crust by Jim Lahey of Co.; Bar Brace by Jason Denton of ‘inoteca; and Prime Tavern by Michael Lomonaco of Porter House. The only catch? To try any of these restaurants, you actually have to have destination, rather than it being the destination.

But wait, what about catching your flight? OTG Management, the team behind the revisions, have installed iPads all over the restaurants, coffee stands, and seats, so that you can order food, a magazine, a soda—anything you want from where ever you are. That means if you want to sit in front of your gate you can still get Crust’s spinach pizza sent right to you, without an extra delivery fee. If you want to eat in the restaurant, the iPads there act as the menu and educated server. You can touch a dish on the screen and it will not only tell you what it is, but also recommend wine pairings, a glossary, and what other dishes might go with your meal. The best part, you can manage your flight, surf the web, and tweet all you want right from the table.

This new approach to airport dining comes a few years after Jet Blue got their new terminal at JFK. Then, it was a big step to have Jamba Juice and a food quart lacking Panda Express or McDonalds. Compared to what OTG is doing, now the Jet Blue one is practically medieval. OTG’s classy takeover doesn’t stop there. They are currently working on the terminal in Minneapolis (with Andrew Zimmer on board, naturally) and soon, they hope to have all the Delta terminals up to snuff. Hopefully this means other airports and airlines will get into gear and start upping the game, and, in time, perhaps soggy-bread sandwiches and old salads will just fly away.


  1. When airline service was first developed, good quality food and service used to be the norm. Glad to see we're going back to that. I also like the idea of using an ipad, that makes it up-to-date and means you don't have to nervously wait for a waitress while wondering if you will miss your flight.

  2. I was recently there and the best thing was, when you first began to use it, it would ask for your flight info and display updates, whether it be delays, etc, so you don't get too carried away playing with the ipads. They're experiencing quite the revenue boost from it too: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/07/11/restaurateur-bringing-7000-ipads-to-airports-were-seeing-15-20-revenue-boost/

  3. I can't wait for denver to get with the act! i mean they have some restaurants there but the layout makes me think you will never be able to nosh in 15-20 minutes like you can at LGA.