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RewardExpert 2017 Airport Dining Scorecard
In the not-too-distant past, airport food was considered a punchline and mainly thought about as the mixed nuts at a smoky airline lounge or a burger from a fast food joint like McDonald’s. As the years have passed, terminal operators have upped their culinary game to accommodate hungry travelers with more sophisticated palates.
With the accommodations arms race sweeping many of America’s airports, we sought to find out which airport serves the best food. We compiled nearly 75,000 restaurant reviews from the top 20 most trafficked airports in the country and gathered menu and pricing options to determine the best airport in terms of overall restaurant quality, variety, as well as the top airports for different dining categories.
The top 20 most trafficked airports in the United Stated were determined using 2015 North American Passenger data from the Airports Council International. RewardExpert created an overall weighted score using Yelp ratings and pricing data, Zagat ratings, JD Power ratings and healthiness scores from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
5.0 RewardExpert determined the final rankings using three indicators: Satisfaction, Price and Quality. Satisfaction rankings were determined by measuring the average Yelp score per venue and the average Yelp score per reviewer at each airport. Price scores were calculated using Yelp pricing data. Quality was evaluated using a cumulative average of data from Zagat reviews, PCRM healthiness ratings and JD Power rankings.
Top of the Class
Denver International Airport (DEN)
The Denver International Airport comes in at number one for the RewardExpert restaurant rankings by a comfortable margin. Ranked the highest in overall quality and second in price and variety, the DIA offers a breadth of excellent choices at a low price. The field-to-fork Root Down has a 4 and a half star rating with more than 1000 reviews to its name.
Denver International Airport, Terminal B8900 Peña BlvdDenver, CO 80249
Concourse C9100 Peña BlvdDenver, CO 80249
Terminal C8500 Pena BlvdDenver, CO 80249
Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport clocks in at number 2 on the RewardExpert rankings. With nearly 5,500 reviews tallied, Sky Harbor has the highest quality score per reviewer and is the fourth least expensive airport to dine at. Chelsea’s Kitchen, a chic, industrial restaurant serving up American and Mexican classics is one of the airport’s culinary gems.
3400 E Sky Harbor BlvdTerminal 4, Main ConcoursePhoenix, AZ 85034
Phoenix Sky Harbor5040 N 40th StPhoenix, AZ 85018
Phoenix Sky Harbor3800 E Sky Harbor Blvd, Terminal 4, Gate B21Phoenix, AZ 85034
Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
To accommodate the largest passenger load of any airport in the world, the Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has nearly 140 restaurants with nearly two dozen different primary cuisines. The widely-celebrated, four-and-a-half star southern and Asian fusion eatery, One Flew South, is considered not just one of the best restaurants in the airport, but the whole city.
Hartsfield AirportConcourse DAtlanta, GA 30337
6000 N Terminal PkwyTerminal EAtlanta, GA 30320
Hartsfield AirportAtlanta, GA 30320
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
The least-expensive airport to eat at of the top 20, the Philadelphia International Airport is home to nearly 80 different gastronomic options for travelers. Aldo Lamberti Trattoria is a hot spot for quality pizza and Italian staples.
Philadelphia International Airport8000 Essington AvePhiladelphia, PA 19153
Philadelphia International Airport, Terminal D8800 Essington AvePhiladelphia, PA 19153
Philadelphia International Airport, Terminal A8000 Essington AvePhiladelphia, PA 19153
Houston George Bush International Airport (IAH)
Home to a number of highly rated eateries, the Houston George Bush International Airport is a seafood lover’s dream. Pappadeaux and Landry’s are just a few of the locations a traveler can stop to get some quality sea fare.
Bush International Airport, Terminal CHouston, TX 77032IAH Airport Area
2852-2878 S Terminal RdHouston, TX 77032IAH Airport Area
2800 N Terminal Rd, Terminal EHouston, TX 77032IAH Airport Area
Best By Category
Nearly 20% less expensive on average than the most expensive airport to eat at in the top 20, Newark International Airport, Philly offers a variety of quick-service local delicacies, like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels, at low prices.
Vegetarian and Vegan OptionsHouston
Situated in a meat-loving state, it may be surprising that Houston’s Bush Airport is such a haven for vegetarian eaters. All but a few of the nearly 90 restaurants in the airport have multiple vegetarian entrée options.
Local EateriesSan Francisco
Aside from a Burger King, a Wendy’s and some staple coffee shops, nearly all of the San Francisco Airport’s restaurants originated in San Francisco. Napa Farms, SF Uncork’d, Mission Bar and Grill, and Lori’s Diner are just a few of the Frisco-based restaurants that can be found in the airport.
High-End BitesLos Angeles
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re looking for a high-end place to eat, Los Angeles International Airport has plenty of pricey options. At Slapfish Seafood, a traveler can eat lobster for every meal and the Petrossian Caviar and Champagne bar features caviar that ranges in price from $60 to $394 for one ounce.
Fort Wort airport is a true barbeque hub that focuses on meats and veggies and is the perfect layover spot for gluten-free eaters. Salt Lick, Dickey’s, Railhead are just a few of the BBQ joints noted for their gluten-free sides and meaty entrees.
Worst in show
Rated 18th of 20 in price and ranked similarly in average quality scores, LaGuardia Airport is the third-worst airport to eat at. With less than 60 restaurants noted by the airport, it also has a fairly poor breadth of options, relative to its competitors.
19John F.Kennedy International AirportJFK
Coming in at second-to-last is yet another NYC-area airport; John F.Kennedy International Airport.
The food in JFK is expensive and its quality is dragged down by a number of low-rated chains.
20Newark Liberty International AirportEWR
Despite a major renovation effort to boost the quality of the restaurants in Newark Airport, it still remains the lowest-rated and most-expensive airport in terms of food. The airport was rated dead last in 4 of 6 report rankings.