Eating Well At The Airport And In The Air

Eating Well At The Airport And In The Air

Celebrity chefs and healthier fare are boosting the culinary quotient at airports. We scope out the best and worst terminals for a pre-flight meal.

In-flight meals on domestic flights have largely gone the way of the dodo. And with TSA rules that limit what you can bring through security, many hungry travelers turn to airport eateries for sustenance. Fast food is always an option, but celebrity chefs and healthier fare are boosting the culinary quotient in terminals around the country. We explore the menus at airport restaurants and scope out the best and worst options for a pre-flight meal.

Guests

Tom Sietsema

Food Critic, Washington Post; author of "The Washington Post Dining Guide" (2003)

Susan Levin

Registered Dietitian; Director of Nutrition Education, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Steven Baker

Vice President of Business Administration, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Best And Worst U.S. Airports For Healthy Dining Options

Nutrition experts at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine surveyed restaurant meals at 18 of the busiest U.S. airports in more than a dozen states. They gave each restaurant a point if its menu included at least one high-fiber, cholesterol-free entree. The report found that 76 percent of restaurants at major airports offer at least one healthful plant-based entree. Below is the list of airports with restaurants offering the most variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, ranked from best to worst. Read the full 2013 report.

Best And Worst U.S. Airports For Healthy Dining Options

Healthy Eating At Washington Area Airports

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which tied with LAX for third place, is the most improved this year—gaining 14 points and moving up from 11th place. Travelers on the run can grab an Asian peanut-tofu wrap from Euro Café, a cup of Moroccan lentil soup or Smart Fit salad from Cosi, or stop by National Airport Grill for a grilled vegetable entrée made with squash, zucchini, and baked eggplant. Washington travelers looking to sit down can check out Cibo Bistro & Wine Bar, which offers Italian specialties, including fusilli telefono with crispy eggplant and tomato sauce.

  • Here are the local eateries at National Airport that offer at least one high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée:

    Allie’s Deli
    California Tortilla
    Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar
    Cibo Express
    Cosi
    Einstein Bros. Bagels
    Fabulously Fresh
    Famous Famiglia
    Five Guys
    Fuddruckers
    Gordon Biersch
    Jerry’s Subs and Pizza
    Jet Rock Bar and Grill
    Matsutake Sushi
    McDonald’s
    National Airport Grill
    Potbelly Sandwich Works
    Qdoba Mexican Grill
    Ranch 1
    Sam and Harry’s
    Samuel Adams Brewhouse
    Starbucks

  • Baltimore/Washington International Airport, which tied for fourth place, gains four percent this year and moves up from 10th place. Silver Diner offers portobello vegetarian stir-fry, an all-season summer salad and a hearty autumn veggie chili with kidney beans, mushrooms, carrots, and squash. Maryland travelers can stop by Chesapeake Café or Rams Head Tavern for a variety of fresh cut greens, including ample servings of seaweed salad.

  • Here are the local eateries at BWI Airport that offer at least one high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée:

    Boar’s Head
    Chesapeake Café
    Chipotle
    DuClaw Brewing Company
    Dunkin Donuts
    Euro Café
    Gachi Sushi
    Greene Turtle
    Jamba Juice
    Manchu Wok
    Market Fresh International
    Mayorga Coffee
    McDonald’s
    Nature’s Fresh Kitchen Café
    Obrycki’s Restaurant and Bar
    Pax Bar and Eatery
    Peppers Mexican Grill
    Phillip’s Seafood
    Potbelly Sandwich Works
    Quizno’s Subs
    Rams Head
    Silver Diner
    Starbucks
    Subway
    Vino Volo Wine Bar
    Zona Mexicana

  • Washington Dulles International Airport, which tied with BWI for fourth place, drops two points this year but rises from sixth to fourth place. Early risers can stop by Capitol Ground Coffee for a quick breakfast or light lunch, which might include a Greek Islands Salad or the GWU Veggie Special, piled high with spinach, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. There is no need to worry about mystery toppings at Green Leaf’s, where you can pick and mix your own salad. Matsutake Sushi serves as a healthful lunch or dinner destination, offering avocado cucumber rolls, pickled radish and asparagus, and steamed veggies with rice.

  • Here are the local eateries at Dulles Airport that offer at least one high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée:

    California Tortilla
    Capitol Grounds Coffee
    Chipotle
    City Wok
    Cosi
    Dulles Gourmet Market
    Dulles Gourmet to Go
    Famous Famiglia
    Five Guys
    Fuddruckers
    Gordon Biersch
    Great American Bagel Bakery
    Green Leaf’s
    Guava and Java
    Harry’s Tap Room
    Matsutake Sushi
    Moe’s Grill and Bar
    Potbelly Sandwich Works
    Starbucks Coffee
    Subway
    Tequileria
    Villa Pizza
    Vino Volo Wine Room

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The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.