Learning to Love Flight Delays

Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar in the US Airways Terminal at La Guardia.Photo: Jeff Mermelstein

‘Honey, you couldn’t pay me,” said my wife, when asked to accompany me on a tour of New York’s airport restaurants. Is the grub at our airports really that bad? Well, it ain’t great, but here are a few places where you might possibly find a decent meal.

Among the endless food courts of La Guardia, Rocco’s Yankee Clipper diner, in the old Marine Air Terminal, is the breakfast joint of choice for many Delta-shuttle regulars. Order just about any of the cheap items cooked on the vast and greasy grill—the $3.25 bacon-and-egg sandwiches and $5.25 omelettes, say—but avoid the French toast, which looks like vulcanized rubber. For lunch, you could do worse than the plain wood-fired pizza pie at Todd English’s Figs, in the Central Terminal. For dinner, the Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar, in the US Airways terminal, offers a $78 bottle of Puligny-Montrachet as well as a pretty good burger.

For lunch at JFK, try the smoked chicken-and-avocado sandwich and the Asian noodles at the new Balducci’s outlet in Delta’s Terminal 2. For volume-oriented fressers, the place for a pre-trip dinner is Bonfire steakhouse, another Todd English joint, also in the Delta terminal. The $38 fourteen-ounce sirloin lacks the proper char but still has plenty of taste. Those who like to drink themselves into a preflight stupor should visit the Vino Volo wine bar in American’s Terminal 8, where eight kinds of reasonably priced tasting “flights” are available.

If you prefer to start your travels from Newark on a healthful note, the Surf City Squeeze stand, by Gate C133, serves fruit smoothies spiked with bee pollen and spirulina. The Virgin Clubhouse is known for its opulent salmon-and-caviar bar. Regular schmoes can grab lunch at the Garden State Diner, by Gate C82, where the menu offers up toppling cheeseburgers, sweet apple pies, and viscous malted shakes at least the equal of those served at the great dining establishments along the New Jersey Turnpike. Newark’s most lavish dinner option is the wood-paneled Gallagher’s Steak House. My $39 rib eye was radically undercooked, but the $14 martinis aren’t bad.

Learning to Love Flight Delays