Not too long ago, forgetting to bring a healthy snack on your flight meant one of two options: landing at your destination seriously hangry or reluctantly grabbing something off the fast food menu. But in the last few years, the trend toward healthy living has made its way into the skies. Or, at least, the terminals.
Push through the airport’s tempting Auntie Anne’s smell and you’ll find a surprising amount of healthy options at your disposal. Newsstands regularly sell RXBARs, hummus trays, protein boxes, and even protein-packed cookies. And more fresh restaurants are popping up, too. Here are a few of the most notable for US travelers. Plan your next trip accordingly!
Cava Mezze Grill
If you’re short on time heading through Reagan Washington National, Cava Mezze Grill is a solid grab-and-go option… especially if you’re craving Mediterranean. They’ve got grain bowls, salads, and breakfast pitas. And if you just want a snack, go for the hummus tray or feta spread. Find Cava in Terminal B near gate 16.
Joe & The Juice
Iceland is hot. Well, it’s not, but no one can deny the amount of American tourists booking trips through Keflavík International Airport, even if you’re just waiting out a layover on your way to Europe. If Joe & The Juice’s juice creations and sandwiches are already part of your weekday routine, you’ll be happy to know the juice spot reigns king in Iceland, too. Find the beloved restaurant all over the Keflavík airport. And don’t worry — all the classics are on the menu. Fitt Tip: ask for the English menu at the shop designated for arriving flights — the menu board is all Icelandic.
Touching down in Dallas/Fort Worth, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver International, or Sea-Tac? Swing by this Vietnamese restaurant for fresh summer rolls, Vietnamese soup shots, or a spicy green coconut curry on your way to your gate. They’ve got some of the brightest, greenest meals around, so you won’t have to deal with any measly airplane snacks.
There aren’t a ton of airports that serve ahi tuna tacos, but leave it to Los Angeles to make it happen. If you’ve got some time to kill before braving security at LAX, head to Cantina Laredo for said tacos, ceviche, and best of all, top-shelf guac. For nervous flyers, a pre-flight shot of tequila is always an option, too. Find the Mexican restaurant in the arrivals area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Fitt Tip: You can always order tacos over greens if you want to nix the tortillas.
Leave it to Denver to lead the farm-to-terminal fare. We should say that not everything at Root Down is a slam dunk in the health department, but some days, you just need biscuits and gravy. Though, you should know that everything on the menu is organic, seasonal, and sourced farm to fork. As for the lighter fare, try the Harissa Roasted Carrot Salad, Farm to Table Cobb, or protein-filled bento boxes.
Fresh Healthy Cafe
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is a massive airport. If you’re overwhelmed by choice, Fresh Healthy Cafe is a solid pick, especially if you’re in Terminal C. Across from Gate 45, you’ll find dairy- and gluten-free smoothies and salads, plus a breakfast menu with avocado egg sandwiches and organic coffee.
If you’re bookin’ it through Phoenix’s Sky Harbor, you can’t beat these on-the-go options. Try the seed-based granola, yogurt, and fruit cup or the organic granola if you just need something to stash in your backpack. It’s great for people with food sensitivities, too. The menu marks which items are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
McCoy’s Bar and Grill
Don’t let the name fool you: this isn’t your average burgers and beer joint. This Orlando International Airport gem uses fresh, local ingredients to make small plates and entrees. There’s plenty of seafood, like seared fish tacos, poached shrimp, and a sushi bar, plus create-your-own salads. Vegetarians, take note of the lentil chili!
The fact that LAX has a Lemonade is pure genius. The fast-casual restaurant brings healthy and cold sides to Terminal 5 of the airport, plus a full “land and sea” menu and a new addition: poke bowls. They’ve also got a pretty great breakfast menu, so you’re covered all day.
French Meadow Bakery & Café
If you find yourself in Terminal 1 of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in need of real food, you need to visit this Twin Cities favorite. With respect to the very generous house-made guacamole serving with some meals, French Meadow’s breakfast menu offers food you’ll actually want to eat. See ya later, sad protein bar. They’ve got organic granola, daily omelet, and easy egg plates, and the prices don’t break the bank.
Protein boxes are becoming more and more popular. Starbucks has their own version, and most newsstands or grab-and-go spots have some meat and cheese combo. But Charlotte Douglas International takes it a step further with a paleo snack box from 1897 Market. There’s a paleo lunch box too. Whole30ers, Charlotte just might be your happy place.
Wicker Park Sushi
No one would blame you for skipping out on the packaged sushi in the gift shop, but Wicker Park Sushi Bar in Terminal 2 of Chicago O’Hare is a whole different experience. They’ve got specialty rolls, edamame, veggie rolls, and sashimi. Plus, WiFi and sake in case your flight gets delayed.